After all the holiday gluttony and madness, January is finally here. The ending of the holidays can be a bit of a let-down for some people who enjoy the festivities and extra time off that begins in November and lasts through the end of December. But for many others January is also a time of relief from holiday-related stress, and excitement for all the possibilities that the beginning of a new year symbolizes: fresh starts in life, the manifestation of dreams and hopes that have not yet been realized, and the generation of new inspirations to make life better than ever before. In this spirit of new beginnings, I would like to discuss some of my observations and thoughts about some ways to help make the achievement of the wonderful ideas and plans that many people come up with at this time of year more realistic to persevere with and achieve. First and foremost, I don’t like to make “resolutions”. The term itself has come to mean a lofty idea that sounds great on paper, but is difficult to commit to and integrate into our daily lives and thus goes unachieved and leaves us feeling as if we have failed. It is easy to think of a resolution that would greatly improve our lives-for example, exercising daily, losing significant amounts of weight, becoming completely debt free, etc. However, it is unrealistic to think that we can go from Point A (i.e., never exercising at all) to Point Z (i.e., exercising for 2 hours per day 7 days a week) in a short time just because we set a resolution to do so. Plans like this are called distal (or distant) goals, and they are unreasonable and set us up for failure. In my experience, setting proximal goals that allow us to master smaller tasks in order to work up to larger overall goals (i.e., running two days per week for 20 minutes, then working up to longer times and additional exercises) works much better in helping to maintain and increase behaviors over long periods of time. When we successfully master a certain task, this creates positive self-esteem and motivation to push forward and reach for higher levels of achievement; so instead of setting resolutions I personally prefer to think of myself as integrating new and more challenging life changes into my routine. Also, I believe that when thinking of life changes that you would like to create it is important to consider how this will fit harmoniously and joyfully into your lifestyle. For example, if exercising is something that you would like to integrate into your daily life it is essential to think about and even try out what types of exercise that you will enjoy putting into your workout routine. So, if you hate jogging then don’t do it. Trying to force oneself to consistently do something that is not felt to be pleasurable or valuable in any way will lead to failure at some point. And there are usually several options available in any given area, so taking the time to do some research about the best way to tailor life changes to fit your personal style will also yield better results. So in general, devoting some time to putting together a plan for determining the best way to develop realistic and valuable goals, set up steps to achieve them and reward yourself for success, and to commit to sticking with your personal plan can be very effective in creating positive and lasting change. You should never beat yourself up for falling short of a proximal goal. However, even though goals should be enjoyable there will still be times when motivation is low and it will seem much easier to just give up; regard failures and setbacks as learning experiences, and continue to move forward. Continuing to push and motivate yourself in a healthy and realistic way is essential in achieving and maintaining success in life, so committing to seeing your goals through is perhaps the most important way to ensure the accomplishment of whatever changes that you would like to see in your life. The thought of new beginnings, whether in a New Year or at any time, adds excitement and joy to life, so don’t be afraid to be creative and run with your inspirations-taking steps to make your inspirations more achievable is a great way to ensure the manifestation of the kind of life that you want.