A new year is here. For many, it’s a time of resolution, setting new intentions and goals to strive for in the coming weeks and months. Often, these relate to our health, exercise and eating habits. Some choose to focus on how they interact with other people or set a career related goal. Without realizing it, these good intentions may be setting us up for failure. How many of us will be able to say next December that we kept true to our resolutions? Here are three points of focus for those hoping to begin new practices and better habits.

Be Realistic

It’s important to set attainable goals. If your intention is to begin jogging, don’t plan to run a marathon by the end of the year. A 5K in the fall would more realistic. If you are going to start a yoga practice, resolve to attend one class per week, not two or three. If you already go to class regularly and your intention is to also start a home practice, set your first goal at 15 minutes, five days a week. These bite-size resolutions are enough to make a difference in how you feel, but not so large that you are unlikely to follow through.

Make a Short List

In addition to unrealistic goals for single resolutions, setting too many new intentions is unlikely to work. Though we can probably all think of five or six things we would like to change, sticking with the two or three that are most important is a much better plan. Going vegan, beginning a yoga practice, not speaking unkindly of others, writing your first novel and spending more time with family is a tall order for one year! What is the area in your life where a small change would make the biggest difference? Prioritize and minimize!

Document Your Progress

Though just feeling better or looking better can be enough of a reward in itself, it’s always a good idea to record your efforts. Keeping a diary, photo journal or a weekly social media posting is an important part of the process. It will help to keep you on track, serving as a reminder that you have made positive changes even when the results are not apparent. Don’t make the recording process more difficult than the intention itself! A few notes on a calendar or in a datebook may be all you need.

If there are times when you are frustrated with your progress, remember that every step along the path is worthwhile. A consistent, regular effort is the primary thing to strive for. Twenty minutes of yoga every day is probably better than two hours once a week. A class every week is better than a weekend workshop once a year. Follow these guidelines and soon you’ll looking back at 2014 as a year of accomplishment.