A new year is a clean slate; an opportunity to start fresh and to turn over a new leaf. But as attractive as this sounds, the fact is that most New Year’s resolutions are most often dropped by the end of January. While it might seem like a good idea to set a new goal for yourself in the coming year, there are some basic reasons behind why New Year’s resolutions don’t work. If you want to create real change in your life, then it’s important to understand why many never follow through with their proclamations.

One of the reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t work is that they’re often based on things that you think you’re supposed to do, and not necessarily on things that you want to do. You think you should exercise more, you think you should lose weight, you think you should stop smoking, you think you should start keeping a journal. These are all good things, but if you don’t really want to do them, then there’s nothing there to motivate you to keep it up. These types of resolutions can stress you out. It’s important to be authentically passionate about your self vision, in order to achieve it.

Another reason why New Year’s resolutions don’t work is that people often take on too much when writing out their list. They write a novel-length list that basically says, “I want to change the entirety of who I am in one year.” This is a recipe for disaster; no one can keep that many resolutions. And it can also serve as a reminder of all the things you don’t like about yourself, which is more likely to send you running for the ice cream in your freezer than it is to send you running to the gym.

There are many reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t work, but here’s an effective way to affect genuine change in your life. Pick one area of your life in which you’d like to improve, and focus on making a little progress at a time in that area. By taking things step by step, you’re far more likely to follow through and take things day by day. And who says that you have to wait for the New Year? The rest of your life is starting now; you don’t have to wait a month in order to get your rump in gear.