01/01/2011 12:10 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Making New Year's Resolutions That Work

Ever notice how your new year's resolutions lose power after a little while? If you really want to make some changes this year, here are some ways to make sure your resolutions stick.

• First, commit them to paper. Write down exactly what you will do, whether the change you want to make is in your inner world or in the outer world.

• Second, do a brainstorming session and write down every possible way you could accomplish each of your new year's goals. Take ten minutes per goal and write down every idea that comes to mind, whether practical, feasible, legal, or ethical.

• Third, choose the best option from your list. This is often the one that will be easiest to do, as long as it accomplishes what you want to accomplish.

• Fourth, write an affirmation that states what you will do. An affirmation is a statement that begins with "I am...", "I can..." or "I will....." Say this affirmation out loud a few times and notice whether or not you can believe it. If you can't get to the place where you believe it, rewrite it, or change your resolution. Let's face it - if you can't even convince yourself, it's a loser, you're not going to follow through.

• Fifth, once you have a statement that you can believe, write out a plan in as much detail as needed, clarifying exactly what it is you will do, what steps you need to take, and in what order, including who, if anyone, you need to talk to, what support and resources you will need, where you will get what you need, and how you will deal with any barriers or obstacles that may get in your way.

• Finally, use imagery rehearsal to amplify your motivation for being successful. Imagine going through your plan in as much detail as possible. When you are imagining yourself being successful with your plan, notice how you feel. You should feel some type of positive feeling there -- at the very least a sense of relief - and hopefully more. Notice any feelings of pride, joy, accomplishment, or whichever positive feelings you have at that point, and notice where the feeling is strongest in you. Imagine that you can amplify the feeling and make it stronger, as if you had a volume control like you do on a radio or TV.

Imagine that the feeling radiates out from that area in all directions, like the rays of the sun. Imagine it penetrating your body, touching every organ, tissue and cell with the feelings it carries, and let that be a good feeling. Imagine soaking it up like a sponge - as if it can fill your bones, your muscles, your connective tissues, your skin, your organs, and especially your brain and down your spinal cord, out through the nerves that carry the messages from your brain to all other parts of the body.

Turn the feelings up until you can feel them filling your entire body, and then the space around your body for 6 inches in every direction. If you like, turn it up even further and imagine filling the space around you with this good feeling for several feet in every direction, or filling the room, or as large a space as you like. Take your time and experiment with how this feels. Then turn the feeling up or down to whatever level is most comfortable for you.

Now run through your plan in your mind again, until you get to the successful ending and feel that feeling again. Then do it a few more times, imagining how good it will feel to have accomplished your goal.

There's a reason that top performing artists, champion athletes, and even the Blue Angels use imagery rehearsal. Every time you mentally rehearse you are reinforcing your decision, and putting a powerful emotional stamp on it that tells your body that this is something you really want to do, that you have the energy to do it, and that you will be rewarded for it. Through imagery, you can experience some of that emotional reward in advance, which greatly increases your motivation and the odds of carrying through. Recall this image frequently, feeling the feeling that goes with it - it'll keep you motivated and on track to having your best year ever.