Many of us made New Year's Resolutions as part of our holiday celebration and are now doing our best to make them a reality. Unfortunately, only about 12% of people actually follow through with the resolutions. You can be a part of that successful 12% if you commit yourself and take action. Here are some great tips for sticking with your resolutions for this New Year.

1. Face Forward:

Concentrating on the past won’t get you anywhere. If you are going to make positive changes in your life, look to the future. If you focus on disappointments or failures that have already happened, you’ll be bogged down, too busy saying “what if?” to step forward into the new you.

Just because you didn’t save the money for your dream vacation last year, or never got around to remodeling the bathroom, that’s no reason to think of these goals as failed. If they are still important to you, treat them as brand new. Look to the upcoming year with confidence, and meet your goals head on.

2. Paint a Picture:

If your resolutions include self-improvement or strengthening your relationship, we recommend that you create visible, tangible goals for you and your partner. Take a moment to ask yourself, “What do I want my life to be like at this time next year?”

Talk to your spouse about your goals for yourself, and for the relationship you share with them. If the two of you are on the same page, you’ll be much more likely to achieve the goals you set. Where you want to “end up” will determine the path to get there.

Whether your goals for the relationship are monetary (savings, vacations, big purchases, etc.) or personal (more time together, children, personal development, etc.), having your partner on the same page can make all the difference. If you don’t take the time to talk about your individual goals, you may not be working toward the same outcomes! For a strong relationship, you and your partner need to have the same expectations for the direction your shared life is heading.

3. Draw a Map:

Make a plan to follow through with your resolutions. Identify where you want to be or what you want to change, and then identify the steps you need to take to get there. Forming this plan with your partner will help ensure that the two of you are working together to achieve your mutual goals.

Your plan should be truly step-by-step, outlining the actual tasks you need to complete to realize your goal for the New Year. Start with three practical steps, things you know you can do, and then implement them. By creating and following a plan, you will be able to move toward your goals with accountability and direction, as well as punctuate the process with tangible successes.

For example, Ted and Denise resolved to spend more quality time together. The formed a plan of three easy actions to put their goal in motion.

1: Compare schedules every Sunday, and free up at least eight hours a week to spend alone together.
2: Take a weekly hike as a couple (they both wanted to get outside more too!)
3: Turn off the TV a few nights a week to spend more time communicating.

With these three items on their plan to spend more time together, they will be moving toward the overall goal, and achieving small victories along the way. Sharing resolutions with your partner is a great way to stick to them, too!

If you truly desire to forge a stronger relationship this year, make a plan and stay with it! A stronger marriage in 2012 will make for a better year in every aspect of your life.

If you would like to learn more about making resolutions work and practical steps to improve the quality of your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System.

Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart,