January 1 is right around the corner. With the drop of the ball on New Year’s Eve, scores of Americans once again make New Year’s resolutions. Keeping them is a different kettle of fish. In fact, it is quite possible that you are even now derailing your odds of keeping your goals for 2016. How?

The Nebulous Resolution
“I’m going to lose weight.” Although this is not exactly an original New Year’s resolution, it is one shared by about 32 percent of Nielsen-polled consumers. The problem here is pretty clear: you have stated the “what” of the goal but not the “how to.” Try something more specific. For example, say, “I’m going to lose weight by cutting my fast food consumption in half.” This goal includes an actionable component.

The Amorphous Ideal
Even as you say that you will “spend less and save more,” which is third on the list of most popular resolutions (as noted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute), you set yourself up for failure. While it is a good idea to save money and spend less, it is impossible to predict the financial curveballs that life will throw at you in 2016. Even if you plan to set aside $50 each month, it only takes one unexpected water heater leak, car replacement or medical bill to completely derail your plans and even put you further in debt.

Rather than trying to meet the ideal, make a budget and find some fat to trim. For example, set the goal to save at least $20 per grocery shopping trip by looking out for sales, clipping coupons, cutting down on processed foods or shopping at a farmer’s market. Although the unforeseen expenses may still happen, you will continue to go strong in your chosen savings effort.

The Exhausting Overhaul
The same researchers discovered that Americans make multiple resolutions for New Year’s. Imagine how hard it is to lose weight, save more/spend less, and perhaps also go back to school or fix your marriage. In essence, this approach requires an entire overhaul of your lifestyle, way of thinking and behavior. Do you really think that you can start all this on January 1 and keep it going?

A better approach is the selection of one area that you want to make changes in. Next, break it down into multiple components that you might tackle over time. For example, if spending more time with your kids is your goal, list the things that are keeping you from doing so right now. Each month, tackle one of them. While this might result in a list of 12 individual resolutions, it does actually tally up to only be one – in 12 parts.

(Do I really need to mention that you should consider these resolutions in prayer before God? Psalm 127:1)