About half of more than 200 people studied failed to keep their New Year's resolutions for a month, and less than one in five followed their pledges for two years, a researcher said.

"Sticking to your resolution takes more than willpower, it takes careful planning both before and after the new year," said John C. Norcross, head of the University of Scranton's psychology department.Norcross headed a research team that showed only 55 percent of 213 people kept their New Year's resolution for a month. Only 19 percent kept their pledge for two years, he said this week. The study ran from Jan. 1, 1986, through Jan. 1, 1988.

People who make New Year's resolutions need to take them seriously and follow a systematic strategy for keeping them, or not make them at all, said Norcross, a clinical psychologist.

"More than half a million American adults routinely make New Year's resolutions, and year after year they fail," he said. "Not because they lack desire. Rather, they are poorly prepared to change and are under-educated in the complex process of self-change."

Norcross suggested several steps before the new year to improve chances of a resolution succeeding, including:

-Define an attainable goal.

-Solicit the cooperation of family and friends.

-Have a substitute for the behavior to be changed.

The key to keep from giving up and saving yourself from the guilt that usually accompanies failure, said social worker Tom Mudd, is setting your sights on one or two small, specific goals and then working on them as soon as possible.