Au revoir, 2012.  Time to turn the page, crack open a new calendar, and suffer mounting peer pressure to declare our resolutions for the new year. It’s a tired tradition, almost belonging high on a shelf next to the oh-so-coveted first wedding anniversary gift of paper and the not-so-practical weather forecast bestowed by the behavior of a groundhog. Yet we still do it. Year in and year out. Why?

I suppose the answer to that is–unfortunately–the answer for a lot of things: because we’ve always done it that way. Guess what else the majority has “always done”? Failed miserably at aforementioned resolutions.

How about instead, we resolve to resolve the core issues that cause us to participate in fantasies of sudden change and self-improvement in the first place? How did we get to the point of needing to lose thirty or fifty pounds? What was the inspiration for our super-unglamorous smoking habit? What about getting rich will truly make us any happier? Why do we feel so unsatisfied with our position in the world that we beg for the New Year to bring us a promotion in our job or status? If we can discover the source of our malcontent, then perhaps we can make real, lasting changes.

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously doomed for the mere reason that such dreams are either 1) too broad, or 2) frankly, unattainable. Example: last week a client told me, “In 2013, I am going to get skinny and rich”. He’s already lost by setting himself up for failure. Defeat is almost guaranteed. Both “skinny” and “rich” mean different things to different people. Besides, such broad aspirations neglect to cut a clear path to success. Had he instead stated “In 2013, I am going to start walking to work, proactively seek what makes me happy in my job, and get to the bottom of why I overeat”, he would have a far greater chance of accomplishing his goals. Same intentions, but much more specific and honest.

Yes, digging way down to those deep-seated issues seems daunting when you think about it. Anticipation is brutal for nearly everything that matters. Place one foot in front of the other, and you’ll be astonished at how far you can go.

Let’s look at the numbers. According to Scranton University statistics, 45% in the U.S. make New Year’s resolutions.

Only 8% successfully achieve their resolutions. What’s worse, 24% of those who make resolutions never succeed and fail every year.

Talk about discouraging. If you are anything like a lot of the people I have worked with, once you deem yourself a failure, you subsequently punish yourself — entering a nasty cycle of sabotage and defeat. If you want to set a resolution for yourself, start by breaking these vicious patterns and find ways to set new habits.

A resolution really is just a goal, isn’t it? You can set goals for yourself any time of the year. Self-improvement is a great goal, and all it takes are small tweaks to your daily routine. Take the stairs. Eliminate soda. Chew gum between meals. Carry a water bottle. Express gratitude. Every day. Think of the New Year as a new opportunity to do things a little differently instead of putting unrealistic and unrelenting demands on ourselves.

Here’s to you. A happy you. Happy New Year.

Jodilyn Stuart is the owner of ModaBody Fitness and has been a fitness professional since 1997. She currently contributes to 303 Magazine as a Fitness and Health writer. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]