Written by Andy Mouncey - http://www.bigandscaryrunning.com

Many people gear up to start a new year full of good intentions. Add some reality with these top five tips so you can avoid coming to an abrupt halt in February.

Don’t Join A Gym

In January. Do it in December or wait until February – ‘cos if you’re still motivated and have control (mostly) over the calories in and calories out part of your life by then the chances are you’ll be on your way to making those new habits stick without the leverage of a new monthly direct debit. Use a gym membership or classes as a reward. By Feb-Mar the gym will be quieter anyway as the initial surge through the doors will have abated. How do I know this? I used to manage one…

Don’t Be Lonely

Especially when the days are short. It’s much harder to make some new habits stick trying to do it all on your ownsome when the sun doesn’t shine much. Contract with friends, share your intentions with your significant others – and give them permission to poke you with a stick to keep you on track. Make it sociable as well as effective and it’s more likely to stick because first and foremost we humans are social animals – even though we all know those who prefer a cave...

Don’t Start With The Big Stuff

Big scary sudden change is a real challenge whether it’s in life, business, sport or everyday life. Start where you can make the most difference for the least amount of effort in the shortest possible time. Once the boulder is moving you’ll be more motivated to tackle the biggies. Pace yourself – you don’t have to solve it all in January.

Don’t Do Stuff You Don’t Like

Swimming is a great full-body exercise – but that’s no good if you don’t like swimming. An exercise class can be a great way to workout at a higher level than you would on your own – but that’s no good if you don’t do classes.

Start with stuff you like to do; stuff that’s fun and has at least a bit of a challenge.

Upping the ante once you have momentum means you are more likely to persevere as the challenge ramps up.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

At least to start with. What you’re actually doing is comparing their outside to your inside: They may look fantastic – but you have no way of knowing what’s going on inside their head or the price they are paying for that look. Put your focus on stuff you can control - your choices, your progress, your thoughts, your behavior. While it can be helpful to use role models and targets, in the final analysis the only comparisons that matter are self to self – a mindset that puts you in a position of personal powerfulness as opposed to the horrible fretting other stuff.