For people looking to freshen up their lives, the beginning of a new year is a good time

to start.

Missteps and mistakes are in the past, tossed away with the 2014 calendar. The possibilities for 2015 are unlimited.

That makes New Year’s Day a natural time to make goals for the next 12 months. But actually starting on a large-scale life change can be difficult, and your plan could be doomed before it even gets going.

By taking things slowly and going in with a positive state of mind, people can overcome those challenges and meet their resolutions.

“The most important thing is just having a ‘day one,’” said Jacque Bush, trainer and owner at Indy Fitness South in Greenwood. “People get intimidated and put it off, thinking they aren’t able to do a workout. But you just have to get it started.”

About 45 percent of people in the U.S. will make a New Year’s resolution, according to a study done by the University of Scranton in 2014.

Losing weight and getting fit, getting organized, saving more money and quitting smoking top

the list.

But the study also revealed that only 64 percent of people who make a resolution keep it after one month. Only 46 percent maintain it halfway through the year.

“Take it in small chunks. You always want to be the tortoise, you never want to be the hare,” said Jenna Hruban, a registered dietitian at Community Hospital South. “When you break your goal down, it doesn’t seem like this massive change you’re making.”

Hruban is used to seeing an increase in patients each year in January. Her initial step is fine-tuning patients’ goals to fit each individual. She ensures that the goals are specific — eating a certain serving of vegetables each day or cutting back on foods with empty calories.

Simply saying that you’ll “eat better” isn’t good enough,

Hruban said.

“Well, what does that even mean?” she said. “We want specific, measurable and attainable goals for them.”

Making a goal that is obtainable is vital. It doesn’t serve the patient at all to make far-fetched pledges, such as giving up all chocolate or never eating a cheeseburger all year, since those will likely be impossible to keep.

Hruban also sets up a timetable for her patients, giving them small plateaus to work toward as the year progresses. Trying to tackle a large goal all at once only increases the chances of failure, she said.

“Losing 20 pounds this year seems pretty lofty,” Hruban said. “But if you do it more manageable portions, like losing 5 pounds in three months, that seems easier to do.”

Working hand-in-hand with eating better is exercising more. Gyms throughout the country will see a surge in membership

in January.

About 12 percent of all new memberships are made in the weeks immediately after New Year’s Day, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.

Bush is used to seeing new faces at the start of the year and welcomes it. Trainers love to craft individual plans of improvement that will help people meet specific goals and never want people to feel like they’re out of place or slowing down the people around them.

The first step is asking for help if you need it, she said. There is no shame in asking someone for help beginning a fitness routine, and learning how to use equipment can make your workout more efficient.

Most of all, though, is having patience, Bush said.

“People think that they can work out and lose it in a day or a week or a month. But it really has to be a lifestyle change,” she said.

The lessons of getting fit and losing weight also are useful when becoming more financially healthy.

A big factor in successful money management is going into it with the right mindset, said Cherie Lowe, a Greenwood resident and author of a book on financial

responsibility, “Slaying the Debt Dragon.”

If you go into the New Year doubting yourself and thinking that efforts to turn around your financial situation will make your life miserable, then it likely will.

“On the other hand, if you going into it thinking that change may be painful, but it will be worth it, you’ll have a different result,” Lowe said.

Make a budget to chart and forecast what you need to spend where, either on paper or using computer programs and applications such as Quicken or Budgt to track your costs.

“You want to get a really good understanding of what you spend normally and where you can afford to cut back,” Lowe said. “That gives you a realistic feel of what you’re facing.”

Then, she would recommend finding a community of people who are facing the same challenge to become more financially responsible. Churches and libraries have support groups and classes for people looking to scale back debt and manage budgets.

Meeting with other people experiencing the same issues can take away some of the stigma of money problems.

“You want someone to be able to share your emotions with you if you’re feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed,” Lowe said. “A lot of those fears prevent us from starting anything in the first place. They’ll shut us down before we can get anything going.”

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.