By: Heather Zydeck, edited by Jenna Burke

Across cultures and throughout history, New Year’s Day has been a time of jubilant celebration. But for many, it is also a time to reflect on regrets and to focus on the new beginning offered by a fresh year.

Whether a commitment to break a bad habit starts on New Year’s Day or any other day of the year, there are a few tricks to making them stick—and the best way to start anew is to do it equipped with the tools the Church has provided its faithful for 2000 years.

1. Start small. It’s always good to critically analyze areas of your life where you find weaknesses and work on ways to fix them. But it’s not wise to bite off more than you can chew. Start out with small things and take one step at a time, holding onto God’s grace all the while, until you reach your goal. Then, when you do, set bigger goals.

2. Speaking of God’s grace, it’s critical to pray unceasingly while undertaking to accomplish any kind of goal. We should ask for God’s help before we start, while we are working toward our goal and afterwards, as we take on new goals. Establishing a line of communication with God is paramount if we are to receive strength and help in overcoming our own weaknesses.

3. Make yourself accountable. Seek spiritual counsel from a trusted leader and/or a more mature person in your life. Ask them to hold you accountable — whether your resolution is to eat less or pray more — your brothers and sisters in Christ can remember you in their prayers and check in with you from time to time, gently holding you accountable for your actions and offering counsel and support in times of weakness.

4.  If you fail, it’s okay to get up and start over. If we keep trying to overcome our weaknesses, and we prayerfully ask for His help, He will extend His mercy to us. For it is written, “If a righteous man fall seven times’ (that is, repeatedly throughout his life) seven times ‘shall he rise again.”