Yes, it’s cliché. Yes, most people don’t stick to it. Yes, the gym will look like Walmart on Black Friday in January, but as empty as the rally for Tim Tebow to join the Jacksonville Jaguars in February. But guess what? Millions of people have still made the New Year’s Resolution to shed some pounds and live healthier in 2014.

You’ve told yourself “This is gonna be the year!” You may have failed in 2013, but hey, that was last year. New Year, New Me right?

Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than a $10 membership at Planet Fitness to get you to actually stick to your goal. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed! Pessimism is so 2013, so put on your game face and take 2014 by the horns.

Related5 New Year’s Resolutions Kept by Productive People

Create Some Kind of Accountability System

One of the biggest reasons why we tend to fail at losing weight is because there’s no real “pressure” to stay true to the promise you made. If you stop exercising for a week, who’s going to know? So what if you’ve been surviving on Chinese food and pizza for a few weeks, you’ll start eating better next month. Those small slipups turn into the end of your resolution.

You can fix this by making a way to help you stay accountable, and stick to your goal. There are plenty of ways to do this:

  • Start a blog — This is probably one of the best ways to keep yourself honest and responsible for reaching your goal. When you make your journey public, it puts pressure on you to perform out of fear of looking like a failure and letting other people down. There are plenty of examples of people who used a blog to log their story. Check out Roni’s Weigh, Ben Does Life, and Finding Radiance for examples of regular people who used blogs to help fuel their weight loss goals.
  • Join a weight loss/healthy living community — There are plenty of forums, meetups, and social media groups filled with people just like you who are trying to live healthier. This is another way of making your progress public, and creates a support system at the same time. Some great online groups you could join are The Nerd Fitness Rebellion HQ, the Healthy Living Google+ Community, and the My Fitness Pal forums.

Take Advantage of Technology

You have to be careful to not become completely reliant on technology, but if you use it effectively, it can really help. There are a ton of useful fitness apps out there to make losing weight a little easier, and a lot more fun. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. You’re probably well aware of MFP, but it’s an app that helps you keep track of what you eat and logs your exercise. For analytical people that like stats, they have plenty of reports for you to review your progress.

I recently bought myself a Fitbit activity tracker, and I love it so far. The primary function of the Fitbit is a pedometer, but it does a lot more. It can also help track your sleep, calories burned, distance walked/ran, and plenty more. It syncs up with the Fitbit App wirelessly (using  Bluetooth) so it’s really convenient. You can also link it to MyFitnessPal to keep a really detailed log of your progress.

There’s also a gamification element to it because you can earn badges for completed goals, and compete with your friends to see who takes the most steps throughout the week.

Buddy Up

Sometimes doing things alone can be tough. Trying to lose weight and get healthier is no exception. If all of your friends are eating pizza, drinking every weekend, and just being all around unhealthy, you’re more likely to join them. Instead of forcing yourself to be alienated because you want to be healthy, get your friends to join you.

You and your friends can help keep each other motivated, hit the gym, and make the lifestyle change together. Just like first tip says, partnering up will help keep you all accountable. If your friend is at the gym consistently  and eating well, but you’re slipping up, you’ll probably feel a little guilty because you’re not keeping up with them.

On the positive side, when you start looking and feeling better, you will be able to share the accomplishment with someone who knows what you went through to get to that point. You’ll both have an appreciation of the hard work you put in. Getting healthy is also a great thing for couples to do together.

Lower Your Expectations

The thing about New Year’s Resolutions is that we tend to make them hastily, and shoot for the stars. On December 31st you had a ton of motivation and your adrenaline was pumping because you were so excited for 2014. That excitement is great, but you have to tame it so that you don’t aim too high.

What can happen is that you anticipate seeing great results. If you don’t progress as quickly as you would like, the excitement you had on December 31st starts to turn into feelings of failure.

Instead of setting unrealistic goals that you probably won’t be able to keep, start small. If you’ve been living unhealthy for years, exercising and eating better will be a drastic change. You’ll need time to adjust.

You don’t have to rush to join the gym in January. Simply start by:

  • Going for a morning walk
  • Swapping out soda for water
  • Adding more vegetables to your meals
  • Ordering out once a week instead of five times

Once you make those small changes, you’ll be able to see that your goal isn’t impossible. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Stop Thinking of it as a “Thing”

Resolutions are nice because they give you something to shoot for throughout the year. But they also carry a negative undertone, because only 8% of people actually keep them. And it makes it seem like a short term goal, instead of what it really is—a lifestyle change.

Your health isn’t, or at least it shouldn’t be, something that you’re okay with failing at. With New Year’s Resolutions, people are okay with abandoning them in February or March. But you can’t afford to let your health go after just a couple of months.

How do you shift your mindset?

  • Don’t agonize over slipups – If you had a greasy cheesesteak sandwich and French fries one night, you didn’t fail your goal. Move past it and get right back on track.
  • Don’t build it up so much – Did you go out and spend a bunch of money on new workout clothes, kitchen appliances, and self-help books in anticipation of your goal to lose weight? Not only is this generally a waste of money, but it creates a lot of unnecessary hype. Keep it simple, and don’t overthink things.
  • Keep pushing– When everyone else has abandoned the gym mid-February, you have to stick to it. Even after six months — when you’re seeing good results — don’t grow complacent. Remember, this is your new way of life, not just a 1 year commitment.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that keeping your resolution will be easy. It’s going to be tough, you’re probably going to want to give it up at some point in the year, and you’re going to have setbacks. But it’s all going to be worth it in the long run.

If you’ve decided to make 2014 “the year,” here are some great HackCollege posts to help you along the way:

How do you plan to stick to your weight loss goals and get healthier this year?