While making—and breaking—New Year’s resolutions may seem like a tale as old as time, the practice began some 4,000 years ago, rooted in the religious pledges of ancient Babylonians to behave in the year ahead. Ancient Romans and early Christians followed suit, again with a resolve to do better.

Today, many of us make promises to ourselves. Then, like our ancient brethren, we fail to keep them.

Modern research shows eight in 10 will quit their resolutions within 30 days. Ouch.

The internet is flowing with advice about how to stay on track. What follows is guidance from your pals here at the magazine, specifically from those two in 10 people who beat the odds and succeeded last year.

  • Set attainable goals. Losing 50 pounds sounds like a lot, because it is. However, 10 pounds is much more doable. If you end up going beyond that, you have the added satisfaction that comes from overachieving.
  • You will learn the year as it goes along, so leave room for grace. Be OK with changing goals if the year is not what you thought it would be.
  • Adopt Jon Acuff’s philosophy of “I want to be better today than I was yesterday, and I want to repeat that process tomorrow.” Focusing on habits instead of hard goals keeps one from striving for perfectionism, which can be a productivity killer.
  • Be careful not to overfill your days or weeks. Leave room to think and dream.
  • Write down as many goals as you can, but only pick the top ones for the year. It will give you a starting point next time, or if you need to swap a goal because life changed, it will be quicker.
  • Find an online or local group related to your goals for shared accountability, learning from one another, motivation and fellowship.
  • Instead of thinking about losing weight, focus on eating habits and exercise.
  • Track your progress and celebrate the milestones. Progress over perfection.

Happy 2023. Let the adventure of a new year—with all its promise—begin.