Was getting organized one of your New Year’s resolutions? You aren’t alone, many people see the New Year as a time for clearing out clutter and finally tackling those areas of their homes they don’t love. But guess what…research shows that 80% of all New Year’s resolutions fail by the middle of February. Any idea why?

Our resolutions are typically big life changes that are challenging or perhaps unpleasant things that we’ve been wanting to change about ourselves or our lifestyles for a long time. We put them off or ignore them completely for months, sometimes years. The promise of a New Year somehow makes us believe that if we give these things an important label like a “New Year’s Resolution” then we will finally be able to follow through.

We wake up on January 1 feeling excited, “This year I’m going to ________ !” But the reality is that most people don’t know how to make significant permanent changes in their lives. We have big goals, big resolutions, but don’t know how to actually stick with them.

The most common resolutions like eating healthier, losing weight, and yes, even getting organized, deserve a plan. They aren’t going to magically happen overnight because in many cases it took us years to develop whatever thing it is that we now want to change, and we can’t undo them just because the calendar flips to a new year. So if we want to actually stick with our resolutions this year, we have to make a plan and commit to change.

Consider the resolution of eating healthier. We can’t wake up on January 1 and suddenly start eating healthier unless we have taken even the most basic steps of purchasing healthy foods and learning how to prepare or cook them. And while regularly buying and preparing healthy foods can help us stick with our resolution, we need to define exactly what we meant when we said we were going to eat healthier. Does it mean that every single thing we eat has to be a healthy choice? It is crucial to define what ‘eating healthy’ means so that we can celebrate when we succeed. And what about the days when we lose motivation or find ourselves out to eat in a restaurant, how can we prepare for those challenges? Without a plan and a definition of success, we are much more likely to eventually abandon your resolution.

Getting organized requires the same thought and planning as our other resolutions. If you want to “get organized” in 2018, you could start by cleaning out a certain room in your home or going through that old stack of papers in your kitchen. But you are more likely to feel like you stuck with or accomplished your resolution if you start by defining exactly what “getting organized” means to you. Do you need to organize one small space or tackle your entire home? Is it simply cleaning out a space, or implementing a new organizing system or process?

What does success look like to you – it is a picture perfect room with beautifully coordinated containers or a simple functional space that is clear of clutter? What are the things that challenge your organizing success – is it lack of time, skills, or is it all just too overwhelming? And how will you keep that space organized or that stack of paper from reappearing?

It is the middle of February. If you have abandoned or are struggling with your resolutions, go back to the beginning. Define your resolution, make a plan, decide specifically what you want to accomplish, what success looks like to you, and how you are going to overcome those challenges. You can do this. Be in the 20% and make 2018 your year of change.