If there’s anything about your life you want to change, there’s no better time than the New Year to do it. New Year’s resolutions are a bad thing if you use them to put off making a change in the here and now – using the excuse that you’ll do it in the new year means you’ll look for any excuse to stop a week into January – but if you wake up on January the first filled with purpose, and want to harness that to a positive change in your life, then resolutions can be a great thing. Used properly, they’re a manifesto for a change you really want and need to make, and today we’re looking at a few ways to make that change permanent.

Do the Work Before the Reward

Being an adult means you are ultimately in control of what you do. It’s liberating, but it’s also a responsibility since if you’re dangling a reward in front of your nose to motivate your continued efforts, only you are on hand to stop yourself simply…having the reward first.

After you’ve done that, doing the work becomes less attractive.

So, be ruthless with yourself. If a reward for going for your first run is ordering some plush, Blood Brother athleisure gear, put your credit card firmly away until after you’ve been for that run. In the long run, you’ll thank yourself.

Tell People

If you make your ambitions public, you’re more likely to follow through, simply from the social pressure. It’s doubly important if you’re doing something like giving up smoking. Telling people means that moment of social embarrassment when you’re on the verge of failure that could keep you from giving in.

Telling people also means more positive support: you don’t know what changes other people could be trying to make, whether it’s to exercise more, eat more healthily or get a new job. If you work on it together, you stand a better chance of success!

Make it a Habit

Habits are things will follow through on without even thinking, so even if the going is tough, force yourself not to give up till you’ve given your change the chance to form into a habit.

Research indicates that it takes up to 21 days for a new activity to become a habit – if it’s not a daily task (and running, swimming or other strenuous exercise isn’t recommended daily for beginners) make that 21 repetitions. Force yourself to do this new thing 21 times before you give up: after that you may find it harder to stop than it was to start!