Are you amazed at how crowded your gym is in the early weeks of the New Year with those New Year "Resolutionists" lining up for the weight machines? But by late February it's back to normal with only the regulars on the treadmills.

So what can we learn from this? Maybe that New Year's resolutions are not the best way to change our bad behavior. Ask yourself does it make sense to attempt to lose weight, quit smoking, declutter your apartment, and save more money for retirement all beginning on January first? 

Your Brain Can't Handle It - Sticking to those resolutions beginning on the first day of January requires an enormous amount of willpower. The brain cells concerned with willpower are situated in the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is also responsible for staying focused, solving abstract tasks, and handling short-term memory. Overloading it with all this willpower is simply too much.

Don't Fixate on a Date - Here's why it's important to make your list now of what you want to accomplish in 2016. If you wait until the New Year you are likely to make emotionally motivated, champagne influenced decisions. Sit down NOW and calmly make a list of what you would like to accomplish next year. Here are some actions you can take:

Create a step-by-step, realistic plan - If you try to do everything all at once, you will inevitably fail. Divide your ultimate goal into smaller, achievable pieces. If your aim is to lose fifty pounds, plan to lose five or ten at a time. If you want to save more money, cut out one unnecessary expense per month.

Record your progress - Mark a big red "X" in a journal or on a calendar as a clear statement that you have completed a step. Of course, in this digital age there are apps you can use to track how you are doing.

Celebrate along the way - Give yourself a carrot for the stick of effort. When you have reached a sub-goal, go out to your favorite restaurant or buy theater tickets as a reward. 

"No one's ever achieved financial fitness with a January resolution that's abandoned by February." - Suze Orman

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