Some of you reading this have made “resolutions” about various ways you’re going to improve in 2020. Because I help folks do that all year round, I’m going to write about how to be successful. The specific goals are yours and whether or not they’re realistic, well, that’s yours, too.

Let’s start with that. Realistic. If you made the resolutions, whether they’re realistic depends on just one simple thing: doing what you resolved to do. I didn’t say easy; I said simple. As someone who has both succeeded and failed, I’ll try to share how much it lifts us when we hang in there with self discipline — not give in to distractions and escapes — and complete what we set out to do. I know that sounds obvious but simple things are. I’m not being a corny motivator. I’m simply saying there’s no easy way to accept a challenge and no better way to lift us up emotionally, physically and mentally than to do a complete job. Most of us have already done that in many ways and it’s on those we need to focus to be successful.

For some, it’s many; for some, it’s few — the times we’re proud of, times we succeeded, but we all have some. If you’re someone who has a tendency toward negative memories, maybe toward a kind of down attitude, depression even, focus on those times you felt good about how you handled a situation. Don’t let your mind drift around into unpleasant territory. Write down a positive or two that you’ve done and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Use those actual things you did to give you the confidence you need to face the challenge of completing your 2020 resolutions.

Now, I didn’t make your resolutions; you did. But I’ll tell you, from experience both personally and as someone in a helping profession, if you’re the one who made them, you absolutely can do it. It can be realistic. Will you? Will I? 50/50.

This seems like a good place to put in this year’s version of what’s become (due to the response I get) my January mantra: “This past year flew by. Next year will too. And an unavoidable fact of life is you/I will not be the same in another year. You/I can commit to improve and then do exactly that OR we will drift downhill.” Age and life just don’t allow us to stay the same. You’re already aware of that and fortunately, thankfully, most of us can do something about that hard, cold fact of living. For you, dear reader, it can start with your 2020 resolutions.

Considering that challenge, don’t rush off now to modify and make your resolutions more “realistic.” Just face what you’ve resolved you’d do in 2020 and make it realistic. Remember, mine aren’t easy either, but let’s keep it simple. We’re in this together, I have mine and you have yours.

And while we may share in the struggle, we have to face ours all by ourselves. I’m just as 50/50 as you. I do know we define ourselves by stepping up to our personal challenges rather than treating them casually or dismissively as in: “I made a bunch of resolutions again that I can’t possibly stick to. Every year I do that. You’d think I’d learn. Oh well…”

OK, if that sounds like something you can hear yourself saying, you’re certainly not alone. And while there are plenty of advantages to a carefree approach to this short, short life, this is a “To Your Health” column.

So know this: Extending your Health Span makes you much more likely to enjoy a carefree life for more of your life span rather than spending way too many of your years in discomfort or pain or the incapacity to do carefree things. That’s just a fact of life we have at least some control of.

Make your resolutions realistic and I promise you (I see folks every day who are examples of this) — you will always be thankful for the hard-earned improvements you made in 2020.