I always get a bit lost in January. The firm resolutions that I had settled on seem to be slipping away and I wake up the same old person as before with less and less desire to keep to the personal commitments that I so recently made.

How do you hold on to new habits that seem sure to change your life for the better? Three steps help ensure success:

Have several visual reminders to keep you on track. I hate to say it, but we get very easily distracted in the midst of our everyday responsibilities, and reminders really help!

Have a specific IF-THEN response to help remind you of your commitments. There is nothing like a game to keep things interesting.

Tell someone important to you (and that you trust not to make fun of your "bad" days) about your new goals and encourage their involvement in your change.

Let me share an example. One of my associates desperately wanted to get her laundry under control. It was always the last thing she thought about doing and was often postponed until there was no clean underwear anywhere in the house, at which time, of course, she got angry at herself for slacking off and did a marathon laundry. So we talked of ways to make the New Year a season of "Laundry Bliss." After learning about the three steps to success, she settled upon the following:

I will put my tennis shoes on the washer when I go to bed. When I get dressed in the morning, I will have to go to the laundry room to put them on, thus reminding me to get a batch of laundry going. I will also make up a note for my bathroom mirror that says, "Have you done the laundry yet?" which will be a back-up reminder.

I will not eat breakfast until the first batch is in the dryer. In other words, IF the wash has made it to the dryer, THEN I can eat breakfast.

I will report my laundry progress every day to my oldest daughter (who has suffered the most from wearing two-day-old underwear and has the most interest in my progress). This will work great, because my daughter will be very encouraging at the slightest progress I make.

Now it has been just over a week since my friend began her new "Laundry Bliss" program, but when we talked recently, she was delighted at her progress. "I can do it, I really can!" she said. You can, too!

So, review your New Year's Resolutions list. Pick one item and resolve upon three steps to success. Write up several small notes to put here and there as reminders. Decide upon an IF-THEN response. Get someone to encourage and prompt you on your way. Soon your laundry will be done, you will exercise every day, you will get dressed first thing in the morning, or another small, but important New Year's resolution will become a firm habit to enhance your life. Good luck!


Marie C. Ricks is a motivational speaker and the author of "Project Organization, Quick and Easy Ways to Organize Your Life," available at local bookstores. To offer comments, go to: www.houseoforder.com. © Marie Calder Ricks/House of Order