The start of something new brings the hope of something great. For nearly half of us the passing of another year comes with the resolve to make some meaningful changes. Take a look at the research on The Top 10 Resolutions for 2014.

Did you notice any familiar themes?

You’ll also notice only about 8 percent of people are successful in achieving their resolution. That doesn’t say much for the time honored tradition of goal setting. What gives?

Precisely what gives is our willpower. Roughly 25 percent of people cave on their new resolution in the first week. Relying on willpower alone is a terrible mechanism for making meaningful change. I”ll also point out the #1 resolution is to lose weight. Would you agree that information on how to lose weight is very accessible?

The problem isn’t information. We already live on information overload! We need to get better at execution on the ideas available to anyone reading this post.

Success often requires more effective planning and strategy. With the right plan in place backed up by commitment and discipline just about any resolution can become reality in 2015. If you are committed to taking it to the next level in some area if your life I hope this 10 step planning process is useful:

Decide What You Want: The more specific and precise you can be, the better. How much? When? These are important questions to answer because it helps you track, measure and evaluate progress. Write it down. Don’t skip this step!

Consider Why: I would encourage anyone attacking important changes to consider why they want to put forth the effort in the first place? What will it mean to the quality of your life? To your future? To your family? Write it down. This can become a powerful source of resolve, discipline, and commitment.

Commit To A Specific Action Plan: Identify the tactics that are required to accomplish what you want. What are the principles, practices and daily habits necessary to move the needle? Are your routines and rituals in alignment with the outcome you desire? What changes need to take place? Write them down. If this is a sticking point simply borrow some action planning insights from someone who has already been down this road. Reverse engineering the success of somebody else is a perfect way to get pointed in the right direction. Just remember not get to stuck in the planning process. You need to take action now! #TANPlan

Get Help: I work with a business coach, life coach and personal trainer. They certainly help improve the planning process and my own experience is that enlisting some outside expertise can cut the time to achievement in half. This applies to almost anything! The advice and perspective of well intentioned friends and loved ones certainly can lend some valuable support. When it comes to getting the most out of feedback, I would simply add that it’s real important to consider the source.

Create Accountability Systems: The coaches and trainer add another critical component for successful outcomes – accountability. When the willpower wanes you need to fall back on an accountability system. I procrastinate. But my business manager and content marketing team force me to be accountable. I hate going to the gym before work. But I cannot bail when I know someone is waiting for me. I love eating pizza and drinking beer when I am watching ESPN at night. But I won’t if I know I have to log what I eat as part of a ‘system’. Systems make it harder to quit and whenever I do come up short my accountability system snaps me right back into place.

Measure What Matters: There is an old adage, “you cannot improve what you do not measure.” It’s important to establish a baseline and benchmark progress toward the desired outcome. Measurement is part of an effective accountability system. It elevates our awareness, focus and commitment. Technology often makes it easier to measure what matters. If wellness is on the wish list for 2015 give an app like Lose It a try. It works!

Morning Routine: How do you start the day? I have been experimenting with my own morning routine the last several months and I am pleased to report that the morning rituals we embrace can jump-start momentum, which is so often the catalyst for progress toward meaningful results. My shift has included waking up 60 minutes earlier (I try and get to be earlier to not sacrifice sleep). Doing a version of meditation for 15-20 minutes which includes practicing gratitude and setting my intention for the day. This is also the perfect time to review and reflect on the commitments you’ve made and why they are important. I try and eat a healthy breakfast and do a little learning before I get into the in-box. For a little inspiration check out the morning routines of these 12 successful leaders. You’ll notice a common thread – consistency!

Give Help: Look for the opportunity to support someone else committed achieving more in 2015. Can you lend expertise or mentor someone in need? Doing it without the expectation of anything in return is service that can prove to be a catalyst to propel you forward. I’ve shared previously, exceptional teachers follow certain patterns according to the research about What Makes a Great Teacher:

“First, great teachers set big goals for their students. They are also perpetually looking for ways to improve their own effectiveness. … Great teachers … constantly reevaluate what they are doing.

Superstar teachers have a few other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully—for the next day or the year ahead—by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls.”

Celebration: Mark the milestones on the journey to the next level with celebration! Don’t let significant chunks of time pass without acknowledging progress. Celebration fuels momentum to keep going and makes the journey much more fun! This is an area where I plan to improve in 2015, in fact I am already planning for an appropriate mid-year celebration right now!

Adapt: Life evolves all the time and plans will change, but it is good to have a starting point. January is the perfect time to make your move and adjust accordingly. I believe it’s worth the effort.

I hope this helps you take it to the next level in 2015. Happy New Year!