Every day offers a fresh start—but if you aren't feeling your best, it is sometimes helpful to use the start of a new week, a new month, or a new year to find extra motivation to become your best, healthiest self.

There are some tricks to making life changes and setting goals—it's not quite as simple as saying you are going to eat healthier, exercise more, or be nicer to your family.

Why is that?

Resolutions often fail because they are too vague. "I'm going to lose weight" might sound like a good goal—and it is—but it's not specific enough. Other resolutions are specific, but too unrealistic—"I'm going to become the fastest runner on the track team."

Setting a goal that's too ambitious can lead to frustration, and you're more likely to give up—not to mention, you may push yourself so hard you get sick or hurt.

To make positive changes in your life, set reasonable and achievable goals.

Try these tips

  • Instead of resolving to lose weight, make a healthy lifestyle your goal. Take one step at a time, such as drinking more water, or eating a piece of fruit a day.
  • Set a specific goal—"I want to run a six-minute mile" instead of "I'll get in shape."
  • Make a plan for what you will do to achieve your goal. If it is to eat healthier, when will you shop? What will you buy? What's a typical day's menu—breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner? Preparation is key to success.
  • Celebrate when you reach milestones! Acknowledging how far you've come can help you move forward to your bigger goal.
  • And get a buddy—a friend or family member who will encourage you, remind you of your goals and keep you on track. It's more fun to do it together!