Let me guess: You want to lose weight, do more exercise or eat healthily in 2018. Self improvement, or at least the desire for it, is a shared hobby for a lot of us. It’s why so many of us make New Year’s resolutions. But for all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions.

Why do so many people fail at goal-setting, and what are the secrets behind those who succeed The explosion of studies into how the brain works has more experts attempting to explain the science behind why we make resolutions, and more relevantly, how we can keep them.

The top three new year’s resolutions are:

1 Exercise more

2 Lose weight

3 Eat more healthily

Slow and steady wins the race – Step out of the ‘I want it ALL and I want it NOW!’ mentality and step into a slow and steady mindset. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating because if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them. If you have a lot of bad habits today, the

last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. If losing weight is your goal, stop with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy

like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

Take action – The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Seek inspiration and knowledge everywhere, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

Be willing to change – As Albert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The problem? Restricting yourself to a strict diet does nothing to develop positive behaviour change. Behaviour change might not be sexy, but it is necessary if you want to eat more healthily. Most diets depend on calorie-counting, which is an activity that sucks the joy out of eating. The best health and fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

Have fun – The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make exercise enjoyable. That could be participating in dance classes, exercising with a good friend, or joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people.

Track your progress – Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen, or a diary entry on your calendar. For every workout, record what you did and for how long. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going. Same applies to eating and losing weight.