With a new year just around the corner, many are likely considering changes that could lead them toward healthier and happier lives. The key to achieving such change long-term, according to Seattle physical therapist Bethanie Bayha, is to set goals with purpose in 2019.

“People know that health and fitness is an important component they should have in their lifestyle,” said Bayha, clinic director of Real Rehab Sports + Physical Therapy in Seattle, “but [they] often have a hard time committing to it.”

Not surprisingly, many New Year resolutions go unrealized. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of resolutions are abandoned by the second week of February.

In an attempt to help people achieve a much higher level of success moving forward, Bayha outlines the following stems for ensuring lasting change for the new year … and for future years to come:

Set a goal that is meaningful to you, whether it be running that first half marathon or losing those 10 pounds.

“It’s about finding your own internal motivation,” said Bayha. “It has to be something that is of value to you.”

Be sure to motivate yourself by repeating a helpful mantra of why this is important, or write the reason on a sticky and put it on a mirror to read each morning.

Seek guidance to determine a goal and make plan. Visit a physical therapist for a screening of function and movement to develop sustainable steps to reach an objective. Just like visiting a doctor for a check-up, Bayha said, a screening can aid in determining your baseline and identifying the appropriate actions to reach your goals while avoiding injury.

Start slow and be realistic. To set yourself up for success, establish an intention that is both attainable and not over-the-top challenging. Rather than running that marathon in April when you haven’t run in five years, start with a daily walk or short jog and shoot for a 5K instead. If flexibility is the aim, sign up for a beginning yoga series and enjoy the journey to change.

Build time into your schedule. Carve out the time into your calendar, whether 15 minutes or an hour. If you treat it like a meeting or a task, Bayha said, it helps maintain consistency, increasing the probability of success.

Find a way to be accountable. One great way to stick with a goal is to create a support system and help others at the same time.

“If you work with a professional, you have someone to be accountable to,” said Bayha. “Or, find a workout buddy and you can help each other meet your goals.”

Bayha also suggests joining a workout class or a group, which provides both infrastructure of support – and, of course, a bit of fun. Whatever your fitness goals are for 2019, draft a feasible plan to implement, then benefit from your hard work along the path to healthy change.