An excellent start in making some positive changes in the coming year is to create a list of what you hope to achieve. Make an actual list — meaning, put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) — so you can see your goals. Visualizing them will make them feel more concrete and real. Then, pat yourself on the back for taking the first step toward a better you. Item number one: Accomplished! Next, keep these five basic tips in mind to help you see those resolutions through to the finish line:

Be realistic. Recognize your capabilities and tailor the end goal realistically and accordingly. Going too huge and being wildly optimistic from the beginning are surefire ways to set yourself up for failure.

Be specific. Aim to address a particular issue by crafting a specific plan. If you have a detailed course of action in mind, it will make your target easier to attain. Instead of pledging to exercise more, vow to walk the dog every night after dinner and hit the gym at least three times a week.

Be proud. Designate incremental markers along the path so when you meet each objective, you can proudly accept a well-earned reward. With such positive reinforcement along the way, little by little you will get where you want to be.

Be inspired. Everyone needs a cheerleader. Whether you have a friend with the same aspirations who will motivate you, or a mentor to inspire you, an outside source of strength and encouragement is an invaluable tool.

Be persistent. Don’t give up just because you slip up. Forgive yourself if you have a minor setback and be persistent in pushing forward. Learn from the mistake and use it for future progress toward success.

With these five directives to guide you in making and keeping those new year’s resolutions, you are well on your way to a better you in 2018!