Every New Year, millions of people start their resolutions by dusting off their sneakers and donning their workout gear for the first time in weeks or even months to transform their fitness and physique.

The goals can vary, but one thing stays the same for many people: As the prior year fades, so does their resolve. Getting in shape requires an effective plan and future goals that will continue to motivate you well after January. Try these tips to stay motivated and on track. 

Don’t start on January 1st.

Associating your fitness resolution with the New Year is a great way to motivate yourself to start. However, it is estimated that only 8% of people stick to their exercise-related resolutions. It turns out that the association with the New Year can become a stumbling block if you’re goal-oriented. Try separating your goals from the holiday and look at them as more of an overall lifestyle shift. Starting before or after the New Year can decrease the pressure you feel to maintain your fitness goals.

Write out the reason for goals.

A little bit of introspection can go a long way when it comes to meeting your goals. Think about why you want to get fit, highlighting reasons such as weight loss or athletic goals like running a 5k. Then revisit those goals on a regular basis to keep your motivation (and morale) up. 

Establish short-term and long-term goals.

Once you have a rough list of reasons and goals, it’s time to make them even more specific. The goal here is to make your aspirations actionable. First, be specific by making a list of short-term goals, such as “work out three times a week.” Then, highlight long-term goals to identify what you are working toward, such as “run a 10K in under an hour.” Trainers have found that having achievable goals is the best way to keep clients motivated.

Create a realistic training schedule.

One of the easiest ways to hit your goals is to limit the guesswork. Don’t leave your training schedule open. Instead, lay out exactly what workout you want to do each day. Have everything ready so even if you’re tired, you don’t need to think about what to do, you can just jump right in. 

Be flexible with yourself. 

As much as planning can help, it is also essential to be flexible with yourself. If it doesn’t work to get to the gym one day, be willing to swap around your week or drop a day if you need to that week. It turns out that 38% of Americans who give up their fitness-related New Years’ resolution fall short because they find it too hard to get back on track once they fall away from their original schedule. Be flexible to push yourself further forward.

Remember that the most important thing is consistency.

In the end, it’s long-term consistency that creates change. If some days you don’t have time to do more than a quick 10-minute core workout, it is still a success. Research shows that you have to do something about 68 days in a row before it becomes a habit. That doesn’t mean you need to exercise every day, but even taking rest days in between workout days can count as fitting into your fitness schedule. Continuing to put your best effort in for weeks will turn into months that turn into years of exercise and improved health. 

Successful resolutions for the whole year

Someone once said, “Plans are made so that in the moment, you know what you are deviating from.” This works for health and fitness, too. Make a plan and be flexible to work it into the reality of life. Make better health a way of life without the pressure of a New Year’s resolution.