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The new year brings a new year’s resolution. And if you’ve like me, resolutions usually get abandoned by February.

So how do you make a new year’s resolution stick? Here are a few science-backed methods for shedding some pounds, learning the guitar, waking up earlier — take your pick. Whatever resolutions you have, here’s how to not give up before winter turns to spring.

Be specific with your resolution

So you say you want to be healthier. What does that mean? Lose weight you say. Well how much? And what are you going to do to achieve it? Being specific with your goals helps you start small, which makes them more achievable. Once you’ve broken down your goals into simple steps, you can build on your progress. For example, a more specific goal than “I want to be healthier” is “I will go to the gym to do cardio three times a week for one hour.”

Speak to others

People who speak to others about their intentions are more likely to follow through with them. It makes sense: If you tell your friend you’re going to cut down on soda, you’ll be more obliged to be accountable to this for fear of letting your friend down. Conversely, now that your friend knows you’ve giving up soda, he or she can call you out if you get a hankering and pour yourself a cup of pop.

Write it down

Science shows people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Seeing a concrete version of your goals in writing solidifies their specificity and makes them easier to track.

Find a partner

Having someone as moral support will help you during the times you feel overwhelmed or stressed with your resolution. Friends can frequently offer another perspective in approaching your goals you might not have thought of before.

Be gentle on yourself

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are the washboard abs you’re after. If you suffer a setback — say you have one too many cheat meals or you go on a mini shopping spree — beating yourself up will only confound the problem, put you in a bad mood, and make you even less motivated to achieve your goals. Instead, acknowledge your mistakes, find out what you can do different next time, and resolve to implement your changes the next day.

Resolutions are tough, but you’re tougher! Stick to your goals and by December 31, look forward to seeing a new person in the mirror!

Is your new year’s resolution money-related? Check out our guide to financial new year’s resolutions here.