We have all been there, signing a paper and pausing to lift up the pen while shaking our heads, half giggling and half scared to death by the idea that yet another year has passed. Living in what was earlier regarded as “next year” can cause some anxiety. Recognizing that an entire twelve months has passed you by again can be daunting, especially granted that there are some things you may personally want to change.

It is important when considering resolutions to choose realistic ones. While it would be great to decide that this year you are going to walk on the moon or achieve universal peace, it is beneficial to choose New Year’s resolutions based on achievable adjustments that will lead to reasonable long-term goals.

According to a study done by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology on Jan. 1, 2014, the top five New Year’s resolutions for 2014 included the following: lose weight; get organized; spend less, save more; enjoy life to the fullest; stay fit and healthy. While these are all very good intentions, they are also vague. Accomplishing such ambiguous desires requires replacing the habits standing between you and the goal. It is crucial to first define your goal and then follow up by determining the steps necessary to succeed.

Maybe you are interested in losing weight. Realize you cannot simply rely on hopes. Begin implementing a new meal plan and exercise schedule and eventually you will lose weight.

Those who dream to get organized — begin by ridding your life of the disorganization that has caused your discomfort. Go through your clothes and the rest of your possessions. If you can live without it, donate it. If it is garbage, then it should have been in the trash already.

While most people would agree that they would like to have more money, we can adjust our spending to save our wallets from frivolous purchases. Start eating at home and avoid buying things you do not consider necessary. Begin putting a set portion of your paycheck into a savings account that you do not withdraw money from. Perhaps your goal is to enjoy life to the fullest — begin writing a list of things you consider to enrich your life. Start each day by reviewing the list and end each day by adding an item.

If you desire to stay fit and healthy, consult your doctor about areas where you could improve your health or subscribe to a health magazine and dedicate yourself to trying to pursue things you read about each week.

This approach to achieving New Year’s resolutions encourages you not to be so concerned with taking over the world all at once, as first you need to develop the proper skills. In our high-paced competitive society, we find ourselves searching for instantaneous results. While everything we do is quick, between the technological age of communication to the drive-thru windows where we can order entire meals that come out in under five minutes, our culture often convinces us that things must happen immediately. The beauty of a New Year’s resolution is that you are blessed with the upcoming twelve months to keep chugging along and fighting to achieve the set goals.

Implementing the resolution is the hard part, not setting the goal. Based on my own experience, persistence is key. There are no shortcuts in achieving life long habits. While a long-term goal may be the driving force, every little step counts. My point being, do not be discouraged and give up at any point. When you slip up with a resolution, although it may be easy to throw in the towel, recognize all progress has not been lost. Remind yourself of your goal, why you made the goal and how you can work towards it with small adjustments.

A common misconception of the ever worried about New Year’s resolution is that if you fail in achieving the goal post-12 a.m. on Jan. 1, you may as well give up. While Jan. 1 is a new beginning based on our concept of a “year” on a calendar, there is little that separates Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Quit thinking that you have to wait to make changes in your life. Each day is a new opportunity to be the person you want to be.

Arline Votruba can be contacted at avotruba@keene-equinox.com