Ah, January. With the cold weather outside it can be tempting to don fluffy socks, hibernate and watch box sets as we face into a new year and try to restore the bank account to pre-Christmas levels. But with 12 clean new pages on the calendar waiting to be filled with events, birthdays and holidays, it’s the perfect time to take stock and set some goals for the spanking new year ahead. Why not add a few life-boosting goals to the schedule? Here’s our guide on how to identify and set some positive goals in 2018. And – most importantly – how to stick to them.

With your weight-loss journey in mind, we’ll help you glide through that four-course wedding meal and cruise through First Communion and Confirmation season or plan for that dreamy fortnight in the Costa del Sol with style.

If you’ve taken a bite out of a New Years resolution – try and be realistic about when you expect to see results. Slow progress is much better than no progress. Studies tell us that 80% of New Years resolutions don’t make it into February, and this is due to the fact that, by nature, we expect instant results. In reality, cutting out an old habit takes time and by putting pressure on yourself you are less likely to succeed.

Just remember that you’re not alone. In reality, life, our jobs, and family have a habit of getting in the way. We hear you. And there’s a way to change this. By setting realistic, achievable goals with actionable steps we can enter 2019 with pride and a calendar full of completed action ticks to look back on.

Let this be the year you knock your goals into shape and rock on with confidence, clarity, and conviction.

Here’s how:

We all have hopes and dreams. This is wonderful and keeps us looking on the bright side of life. Goals are a little different. Goals are specific targets we want to meet, made up of simple structured little actions or mini-goals that all add up to a bigger more ambitious whole. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were goals achieved. But with patience, a plan and some mini-steps in place there’s no telling what you can do.

To help you identify and smash those goals here are a few steps you can take to give you every chance of succeeding this year.

Identify your goals. Think about what you want to change in your life this year. Fit into your dream dress, give up smoking or learn a new skill by spring? Visualise it. If it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling it sounds like a good goal for you. Remind yourself of this image often, it will spur you on in moments of weakness.

Break your goals down into mini-goals. Big goals can be daunting and too hard to realise. By breaking your goal down into smaller goals and actions that you can manage, you’re already on your way to putting a bigger dent than ever into that masterplan. Chart your progress and you’ll feel like what you’re doing is having an impact.

Be realistic. Try and set realistic rather than idealistic goals. This way they will be easier to stick to. Remember every journey or good habit starts with a single step. Just start.

Be specific. Rather than say ‘I want to get fitter’, try to be specific and change this to ‘I want to run a mini-marathon in May’. Start with a mini-goal like ‘I’m going to walk for 30 minutes, three times a week for a fortnight’. Choose something that’s slightly challenging and a bit fun rather than a chore and you’re more likely to stick to it.

Track your progress. Once you’ve chosen your mini-goal now mark it in the calendar and – here’s the important bit – tick it off with a big red pen every time you’ve completed an action. This may seem like a small thing but it gives us a visual sense of achievement that powers our progress and keeps us going. Having your mini-goals marked on the calendar somewhere you can see them each day also acts as a reminder of when and what you have planned this week.

Reward yourself. After a fortnight, reward yourself for your achievements with a non-food treat. This could be a new pair of sports socks, a new beauty product, an upbeat music CD or download, a bunch of flowers. Rewards for hitting those little goals make the whole process pleasurable and encourage us to keep at it.

Review your goals. Revise them once a month, ask yourself how they’re making you feel, are they working? If you’re on course give yourself a high five. Reassess your mini-goals and plan the next fortnight challenging yourself a bit more this time.

Cope with the unexpected. So you had a work deadline or came down with the ‘flu and missed two of your walks this week. That’s totally fine. Just keep going. And if a mini-goal isn’t working for you, feel free to adjust it. A morning walk might work best or switch to a fun dance class if you’re not loving your spin workouts at the gym.

Plan for red-letter day events. So you’ve got a few occasions on the calendar that you want to look forward to and enjoy. The way to deal with them is to plan ahead. Check out our full list of recipes, save your Bites for the day and dance instead of sitting wherever possible!

Keep praising yourself Your little achievements are all nudging you closer to that bigger goal. Keep going and before you know it you’ll be well on your way to hitting those once unimaginable goals.

The important thing is that you believe in yourself, your ability to adapt and believe that you are going to smash your goals.