Is your list of New Year’s resolutions ready? Or, do you just repeat the same resolutions year after year with no success?

Is your list of New Year’s resolutions ready? Or, do you just repeat the same resolutions year after year with no success?

University of Scranton research indicates 45 percent of Americans make yearly New Year’s resolutions. But according to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8 percent ever achieve their goals. And, 25 percent of us don’t even make it past the first week. Why are we so prone to failure when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions?

Following are some of the most popular resolutions, why we fail to keep them and what we can do to meet our goals this year.

Topping the list (no surprise), are resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle. This may be to lose weight, exercise more, eat more vegetables or eat less junk food. We often set ourselves up for failure here by overestimating how many changes we can realistically make. It’s easier to give in to the depressing winter weather and snuggle down with comfort foods and postpone the gym. Or, to stock up on all the after Christmas candy specials, telling yourself that the diet will start Monday.

To quit smoking is the second most popular resolution. You know smoking is harmful to your health and to those around you. So why is it so difficult to quit? One reason is our fluctuating willpower — the more we resist something, the more desirable it seems. .

The third most popular resolution is to improve relationships or visit family and friends more often. Family and friends are often on our minds during the holidays, and we may regret not making the time to see the people we care about more often. It’s easy to make promises to get together, but then somehow we get busy and time just slips away.

Next on the list is the promise to save money or resolve debt. We all feel the pain of empty pockets after Christmas and many of us vow to save money this year. We may overestimate our ability to make good decisions when we’re under pressure or when we let emotions rule.

There are several steps we can take to ensure this year’s resolutions won’t be thrown by the wayside in a couple weeks.

1. Be honest with yourself. If you are not a morning person, chances are a goal to work out first thing in the morning is not going to happen. Set realistic, specific, attainable goals with a deadline. People that do this are 10 times more likely to achieve success than those who have no plan.

Instead of a goal to “lose 30 pounds,” try a goal of losing 5 pounds by Feb. 15. Write out a plan to make this happen. Maybe you will exercise for 30 minutes three times a week, cut out sweets except for one day a week, or cut your portions in half. Whatever the plan, it needs to be detailed.

2. Take small steps. Choose the one resolution most important to you and work on it full force. Taking on too many changes at once is a recipe for failure.

3. Stay motivated. Make a list of why you want to achieve your goals and post it somewhere you will see daily — on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, on your computer screen.

4. Be accountable. Track your progress online or on paper. If money is a motivator for you, consider joining a weight loss group online like DietBet or HealthyWage where you pay a fee to join but get money back if you meet your goals. Or, set up your own group weight loss challenge.

5. Share your goals with others. Tell your friends and family, post on Facebook or Twitter, or join an online discussion group. A support group can help keep you motivated and on track. Plus, when you hang out with like-minded friends, you will be more successful.

6. Plan for setbacks. We are all human, and sometimes we fail. But, that is no excuse for simply giving up. Pick yourself up and start again. Remember that any change is progress, no matter how long it takes.

And finally, consider a different start date for your New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing magical about Jan. 1, but that date may put too much pressure on us. Some of us do better making changes when the season changes and we are able to be outside and more active. Some might just need a little more time to make a doable plan. Just remember that no matter when you start, a year from now you’ll wish you had started making changes today.

Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.