The New Year’s resolution is an important tradition for many—mainly because it almost always involves something fitness related. With a new year always comes the reality that you’re getting older. And, with that, oftentimes comes the reality that you’re not as fit as you’d like to be. Maybe you’d like to be a bit stronger. Maybe you’d like to hit a half-marathon. Maybe you’d even like to lose a few pounds.

So, you resolve to get it done in the new year, only to find that you haven’t actually done much of anything by February, and by May, you don’t even remember what goals you originally set.

The question then becomes, "How do I create a resolution that I can stick to, and actually successfully achieve?" Below are four steps for creating successful resolutions that are virtually foolproof:

Step 1: Outline exactly what it is that you want from the new year.

It’s not enough to say “Oh, I want to lose weight” or “Oh, I want to look like [insert celebrity.]” You have to outline exactly what it is that you want. Do you want more muscular arms? Do you want leaner legs? Do you want a higher-sitting booty? A flatter stomach? Do you want to be more flexible? A faster running pace? What about finally deadlifting your body weight? Whatever you want, define it clearly. What will it look like? What will it require? What will it feel like? You can't achieve a goal until you know exactly what it is.

Step 2:  Map what your route to success looks like.

If you want to lose 30 pounds and you’ve never even set foot in a gym before, you’re going to need to first begin with making space in your busy schedule for working out. Incorporating healthier options into your diet, downloading a fitness app, or hiring a trainer or wellness coach may all need to be on that list. Whatever you choose to , map out what must happen in order for you to get as close as possible to your goal, and organize them in order of what must happen first, and then map out what must happen in order to make that first step a success.

In other words, plan thoroughly.

Step 3: Realize that you’re in the midst of creating and changing habits.

Now that you're incorporating more fitness-focused activities in your life in ways that weren’t there before. That’s great! But let’s face it, life happens, and it's not always possible to stay on plan—what to do?

The first time you're thrown an unexpected curveball, you may have to take the "L." But after that get into the habit of creating plans B, C, D and Q. Spend time understanding how your life throws curveballs at you, and build alternative plans accordingly. Perhaps you need to set time in the morning to work out before you begin your day and get busy or download a fitness app so you can fit workouts whenever you can spare the time at home. Maybe, you need to pre-plan and prep your meals on Sunday for the days ahead so you always have healthy meal options on hand.

One of the most common reasons for people “falling off the bandwagon” is because their lives throw so many curveballs, that they eventually believe any attempt to change is futile, so they go back to what’s comforting. If you can anticipate those curveballs, you should be good to go.

Step 4: Be patient with yourself.

Don’t let February come around and you’ve quit simply because you didn’t have a perfect journey. If you give it time, follow your plan and account for potential curveballs in your game, you can rest assured that you’ll do fine. You will absolutely fail some days, but that failure isn’t enough to justify you throwing in the towel. Keep at it! As I always say, your body will thank you for it!

Oh, and that hangover? Drink water. Lots of water. Before and after the turnup. You’re welcome.

Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award-winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she chronicles her journey of going from 330-pound couch potato to certified personal trainer, nutritionist and all-around fitness dynamo. Ask her your health and fitness-related questions on twitter at @bgg2wl.