This year, many people will make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight — without any plan or strategy to reach the goals! And some people do this, year after year. They have the same resolution because they never got close to the goal in previous years. Does this sound like anyone you know? Or does this sound like you? Read on for some ways to change this stubborn pattern!

Whenever setting goals (and a resolution is just a very important goal), it’s key to set goals that meet the S.M.A.R.T. requirements. SMART goals work where non-specific goals fail because they target success.

* Specific. Set a goals in a specific area. For example, target body mass, weight, dress size, pants size, or something similar. No generalities!

* Measurable. Measure the specific area, in weight, the pair of pants that are size 36 or dress that didn’t fit before – but is close, etc. Use numbers, or a particular item that hasn’t fit before to measure.

* Attainable. Success tip: set goals that are smaller. Closeness of goals makes them more feel-able and believable, and naturally has motivation build right in!

* Realistic. Be reasonable with yourself! Setting a goal of becoming 30 pounds lighter in 30 days is pretty drastic, and unhealthy. Choose something that you will be able to accomplish while still maintaining your other daily life routines, without having to work out constantly and cooking exotic meals. (Eating better is a good to do, but entirely changing our ways of eating overnight is not… realistic, is it?)

* Timely. Keep your goal in focus by setting a specific completion date.

Taking it further, here are some more weight loss tips to help you succeed with your New Year’s resolution:

1. Make a plan of what you’ll do. Break your large goal down into some smaller attainable goals. For example, plan to lose (so many) pounds by (some particular date). Make these goals measurable and realistic, and then make a plan of meal and snack strategy, and exercise and activity, to reach the goals in a timely way.

* The goals may mean you need to make changes in your life routines. Lots of change at once will make sticking to the changes pretty challenging. Make the changes one at a time, so that you are able to install them in your life without disruption. Remember: One change at a time, and setting it in habit over a period of time, makes for success! For example, instead of changing every meal in the same week, plan for a different type (healthier) breakfast for a week. Once you make it work, then start thinking about better lunches. Once they both work for you, after a week or two, look at snacks and dinner. Also: don’t expect yourself to become Jillian Michaels overnight. In exercise, set small changes before big ones. Walking for 15 minutes daily is a great start, and when that is fit in, THEN look at longer walks or more strenuous exercise!

* Track your goals in a journal daily. I recommend writing them on paper, and investing in a some sort of journal or notebook you find to be attractive, so that you enjoy doing this.

2. Make changes to your eating habits. If you enjoy the analysis, calculate how many calories you consume in a day. If you’re consuming over 2500 calories, little by little bring down the consumption of calories to 1200 per day

For example, set a cap of 2000 calories for a week, then lower it to 1,500 for the next week. Eventually, you’ get to the goal without feeling like you’re so hungry.

* Doing this will take some healthy eating decisions. I do recommend you consult your physician for ideas and nutritional guidance, and choose ways of eating that fit their recommended ideas.

* There are websites that will calculate your calorie intake. There are also some smartphone apps that do this for you pretty easily. Track your food choices, enter them, and you’re ready to go. Use any of these that you find helpful. The apps may have some different capabilities, too, so check out what they can do to increase your motivation.

3. Get moving. From a sitting starting point, moving in any way is better than sitting still! Jogging, running, biking and swimming are great – and if you’re like many of us, walking is a great way to just get going, too. After you’ve gotten a routine started, then begin targeting the parts of your body or exercise that you’d like to improve (i.e. thighs, abs, arms, buttocks, etc.).

* Keep your exercise goals realistic. Choose an attainable exercise plan to get you started, and boost up to something that’s a little more of a stretch later. For example, jogging 6 miles daily will burn lots of calories, but really not enjoyable or even feasible for someone who hasn’t been exercising much. Starting smaller and more comfortable, developing awareness of what’s your sweet spot, then stretching yourself is the way to establish your exercise routine.

* Setting harder goals which are far ahead of what you can do now will really wear you out and discourage you. Start with smaller steps. Build up your exercise time (or treadmill speed, or incline, etc.) little by little over a few weeks.

* Exercising daily for a bit will increase your energy and gradually help you become healthier. And it’s not necessary to have a gym membership or any exercise equipment to get some exercise in. Jogging or walking around the neighborhood and using cans of food as weights will give plenty of opportunity to burn more calories. If you want some inspiration, there are plenty of exercise DVDs in the local library, and has plenty of exercise videos for viewing.

Choose the sort of friends that will hold you to reaching your goals. The super-supportive friend who will just say “That’s OK, you can do it when you feel like it,” is the wrong person for this job. Think more pushy coach, less touchy-feely!

4. Break it down. Reduce your goals into bite sized pieces, rather than looking at the whole meal, or whole turkey. For example, if your goal is to weigh 25 pounds less by the end of the year, break the goal down into nine months if it’s now March, for example. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

• 25 pounds less over nine months comes to just under 3 pounds per month (2.78 pounds).

• Even if you are a bit short of the goal, you’re still lighter and feel better, just for making the effort. Really, you’ve succeeded even if you’re short of your goals because you’re in better shape and conditioning that you were before.

• Any goal becomes more reachable when broken down into smaller milestones.

5. Announce your goals! Tell people important to you about your New Year’s resolution. They’ll help you be more accountable for your own resolutions. Doing this increases commitment to goals, and you’ll feel stronger in them and closer to completing them when those in your life support the goals this way.

• Doing this gives you two incentives to complete to your goal: First, enjoying the process of working toward the goal, and being able to say that you have completed the goal. The second incentive is to hold off any embarrassment of explaining why you fell short of the goal.

6. Recruit friends. See which friends have a similar goal, and work together to reach the goal while strengthening the friendship because of the common effort. Having a friend to talk about it during the whole process helps strengthen your determination.

• Choose the sort of friends that will hold you to reaching your goals. The super-supportive friend who will just say “That’s OK, you can do it when you feel like it,” is the wrong person for this job. Think more pushy coach, less touchy-feely!

7. Make Some Friends. People who succeed in losing weight and keeping it off are those who have a group of peers or friends to whom they are accountable for it. Knowing that you have that support, and that support will hold you accountable for each bite, helps to maintain commitment and focus.

* Times can get tough. This sort of support, especially in a group, is tough to get anywhere else. The sense of community about the common goal is strong.

* Some people join weight loss support groups or join other communities that already exist. Having a group to celebrate the weight loss success stories makes them more meaningful.

Losing weight is possible for just about anyone who tackles the goal with some strategy and common sense.

Strategic planning – not just to fit into your current life, but to meet your goals – can make your weight loss goal your new reality in the New Year.

Join my next Trim-Life class to learn self-hypnosis to lose weight, address your own eating habits, and join a community of friends for life who have the same goals. It’s fun and makes a huge difference in reaching happiness and health!

Trim Life has worked wonders for me. I never thought there would be a day I didn’t have my Mt. Dew! Don’t want it, don’t crave it! It is wonderful to release weight without being on a “diet” or feeling deprived. Gwen Welch-Slaff is amazing and has given me the tools I need to have a healthy relationship with food. – Malia