If you’re like 50 per cent of us, you’ve made a New Year’s resolution. But the odds are against you when it comes to successfully meeting those resolutions.

Research shows that fewer than 10 per cent of people actually follow through with the goals they set for themselves as part of the New Year’s tradition.

Whether you wait until January to set goals or do so throughout the year, here are six research-backed tips to help you meet those resolutions and beat the odds:

Be Specific

When you complete a goal-focused task, completing it is a ‘win’ or mini chemical brain ‘high’ nudging you closer to your goal. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook when the actions you set are ambiguous or too complex.

Get Emotional

Your goal should evoke positive feelings and stir up your emotions. This prompts us into action and tells our brain to pay attention. Emotion also helps us store goal-related information in our memory so we don’t forget it.

Make it Personal

Is it your goal or someone else’s? If your goal is important to someone else – and not you – your success rate plummets. Unless it’s personal, your brain is not interested. You’ve got to set meaningful goals your brain loves.

Be a Visionary

Our brain’s executive center can store vast amounts of imagery. So an excellent goal setting tip, used by elite Olympic athletes, is to imagine achieving it, over and over again. What does it look like, feel like, sound like? Being deliberate in your visualization helps provide clear direction for your brain. You’re more likely to get to where you want to go when you can clearly see the destination.

Be Present

Framing your goals in the present tense – I am the new Executive Director – is a clever hack that gets your brain preparing and anticipating success. Otherwise your brain will keep striving for something you want, wish, or have to do because those of the words you keep repeating.

Make it (kind of) Challenging

Research shows that if a goal feels either too easy or too hard, our brain isn’t in the optimum chemical state of motivation, to focus on it. The best goals hold just enough of a challenge so excitement in our body peaks.

Noesis delivers neuroleadership consulting and training to organizations handling everyday change and major transformation initiatives. We help our Fortune 500 clients scientifically improve leadership.