There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire way just might be procrastination. Depending on what survey you’ve read, approximately 45 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent succeed in keeping them. You and I can change, however. Not just superficially, or temporarily. You can stop doing the things that hold you back or cause you suffering, and create a life filled with meaning and happiness.

Once you have evaluated your goals and prioritized the changes necessary to incorporate a new habit, it takes work to bring that new behavior into being. Our brains have enormous “plasticity,” meaning they can create new cells and pathways, but our brains also create strong tendencies to do the same thing over and over. That’s why lasting change takes lots of practice; you’ve got to create a pathway to the new resolution/behavior. The process is not about getting rid of bad habits; it’s about building new, more positive ones. Because of our brain structure, you’ve got to put external reminders in place, at least in the beginning. You need a trigger from the outside such as a note, an email reminder, a friend who shows up at the door to go to the gym with you; or, you’ll keep defaulting to the old behavior most likely, because it’s automatic. That’s also why it’s so important to be willing to start over no matter how often you blow it or get discouraged. When a baby is learning to walk, it keeps getting up no matter how many times it falls down. It’s learning a new pattern; a new behavior. You are not only learning a new behavior, but also getting rid of an old one. You expect to change overnight and when that doesn’t happen, you resign yourself to staying the same, convinced that you are hopeless, weak, or unmotivated.

Some procrastination pitfalls to your resolutions are: being vague about what you want; not making a serious commitment; unwilling to go through the awkward phase; not setting up a tracking and reminder system; trying to go it alone; telling yourself self-limiting rut stories; looking for distractions because of fear of failing; turning slip-ups to give-ups. Anytime you’re talking about changing a behavioral habit, it’s going to take commitment, dedication, and a lot of practice. Once your resolution becomes an ingrained healthier habit, you become empowered and experience greater satisfaction and fulfillment in your life. You have become the master of your fate rather than the victim of old choices. How’s that for a Happy New Year?