I've always adhered to the expression, "Undersell, over-deliver".  I'm pretty sure it's how I convinced my wife to marry me.  It's also served me well in New Year's resolutions.

Cold turkey on New Year's Day is never a good idea. Photo credit iStock Photo

It's not that I don't want to better myself, it's just that I'm a realist.  Even when I've accomplished major changes in my life, none have come as the result of a New Year's resolution.  The only thing resolutions do is clog up the gym's treadmill machines and spike the sales of products to help you quit smoking.

When I was 20-years-old I quit smoking cigarettes... in April.  I just woke up one morning and decided I wanted to quit smoking.  I went to the store, picked up the patch and never smoked another cigarette.  When I went on a serious weight loss binge, ultimately losing over 100 pounds in six months, I started in March.  Maybe it's a change-of-seasons thing.  I just don't feel like an arbitrary date on our calendar should sway my life decisions.

This doesn't mean I don't think people who commit to resolutions are going about it wrong.  Whatever it takes to get you to live a healthier lifestyle and become the person you feel you need to be, I say go for it.  I just personally don't think hanging up a new calendar and seeing my arms jiggle as I hold them out is reason enough for a life-change.

All that being said, if I was being asked by a friend committing to New Year's resolutions, I'd personally set smaller, monthly goals that will keep you motivated over the long haul.  For example, instead of setting a goal of losing 50 pounds this year, try setting a goal of losing 5 pounds a month.  That's barely a pound a week.  If you hit a weekly goal or two, followed by a monthly goal or two, you'll continue to build your confidence throughout the year.  You're no longer looking at a goal you won't realize until late in the year.  You're giving yourself more mental high-fives throughout the year with monthly goals.

Smaller, easier-to-reach goals work better, in my opinion. Photo credit iStock Photo

If you're looking to quit smoking, don't tell yourself you're going to stop smoking TODAY!!  Instead, tell yourself that by December 31st of 2014 you want to be smoke free for at least six months.  This gives you the chance to pick the moment you want to quit smoking over the first six months of the year.  It's so much more difficult to quit smoking while still dealing with the stress of family, money and overindulging in general.  Give yourself a few months, and when the time is right you'll know it.  It's just another way of cutting yourself some slack and not beating yourself up if you happen to let the stress get the best of you within the first few weeks of the year.

Remember... the glass is half-full... unless it's booze... then that glass is empty. Photo credit iStock Photo.

If you're wanting to change something about your behavior, whether your anger issues, your dealings with your spouse or anything else that may come up, focus on the positives.  If you're trying to control your temper around family or co-workers, don't focus on the one time today you let your anger get the best of you.  Focus instead of the eight different times you collected yourself and showed restraint.  If you're trying to better communicate with your spouse, don't let your failures get the best of you.  Communicate your failures with him or her, and ask for support as you try to stay on track.  They should be more than willing to help in any way they can if it means a "better" you.

New Year's resolutions are all about staying positive.  There are literally thousands of places to find advice on sticking with those resolutions, like here, here, here or here.  It's got to be a glass-half-full mindset, but it can be done.

Good luck in 2014.

What are your resolutions this year?  How do you plan to succeed?