12 Steps to Achieve Permanent and Meaningful Changes Year-Round

Many people jump start the New Year with a list of New Year's resolutions only to lose steam come February. Psychotherapist, author, and positive-living expert Diane Lang offers 12 steps to help you accomplish your new year goals and achieve meaningful changes throughout the year.

PlanningIt's that time of year again when we look forward to the new year ahead and set goals for ourselves. We all want to start the new year off right. We think to ourselves, this will be the year: I lose weight, start exercising, eat better, reconnect with old friends, get a new job, etc. These are all great goals, but why do we wait until January 1 to form a new habit and make positive changes in our lives?

Psychotherapist, author and positive living expert, Diane Lang, offers 12 steps that will help us accomplish our new years resolutions and achieve permanent, meaningful changes year-round - not just at the beginning of each year - leading to a balanced, happy, and abundant life.

Here are 12 steps to have a great year all year long and beyond:

1. I will make myself a priority this year. I will learn to say "no" to others when I feel overwhelmed and stressed. I will say "yes" to my needs and wants. This year I will learn it's okay to put myself first and take care of myself. This year I will learn that selfish isn't always a bad word; I realize that if I take care of myself, I will be there for others.

2. I will be grateful for what I have. I will take the time to pause and think about all I have. This isn't about my material objects. This is about my abundance of love, warmth, comfort, care and empathy I receive on a daily basis. This year I will make room in my life for gratitude checks where I spend a few minutes each day thinking about all I have in this life and just being thankful I have my life.

3. I will pay it forward constantly. I will give more of myself every day. I will inspire, help and empower others on a daily basis.

4. I will step out of my comfort zone this year. I will take risks, add variety and become more creative. This is the year I won't be stale or stagnate. The word "bored" will be removed from my word list this year.

5. This year I will be a great role model. This will make me a better parent, mentor, friend and educator. I will teach others by my actions.

6. This year I will become fully aware of my negative thoughts, comments, and actions towards myself and others. I will make a conscious effort to be more positive and respectful of others and myself. I realize positive energy, actions and thoughts are all contagious.

7. This year will be the year of action plans. Not only will I set short and long term goal lists, but action plans on how to get there. I will write down each detail of my list and follow each step. I will feel a sense of accomplishment because I have taken action.

8. This year I will live in the present. I will let the past be in the past because the past doesn't equal the future. I will stop worrying about the future because it doesn't exist. I will not waste my energy being stressed about something that hasn't happened yet.

9. I will spend less time this year trying to control others and being perfect. Neither one is possible and even though I have known this for many years, I never listened. This year I vow to let go of my controlling issues and perfectionist traits and learn to enjoy life in its messy existence. I will learn to enjoy the unorganized, the messy, and not planned life. I will realize at the end of each day - everything works itself out.

10. This year I will say "thank you" to everyone I love; not just on New Year's, birthdays and holidays. I will say "sorry" when needed, thanks when it's deserved and I love you just because I do.

11. This year I won't try so hard to be someone I'm not. I will not keep up with the Jones', compare myself to celebrities or wish I was someone else. This year I will learn to spend time alone with myself. I will learn what my likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, dreams and hobbies are. I will become fully aware of who I am. This year is the year of me!

12. This year I will let go of all the expectations of what could be or should be, but instead just live my life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our unrealistic expectations that we forget to just enjoy the life that is here right now: our present life...our present situations, environments and family. We forget to be clear and aware of our surroundings: the love, the warmth, the caring, the friendships, the affection...I forget to enjoy those simple things, but this year and moving forward I will not.

About Diane Lane

Diane Lang is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist, and media expert. Lang offers expertise in multiple mental health, lifestyle, and parenting needs. She has been interviewed for numerous magazines and newspaper articles and is a frequent guest on radio and TV shows, including on the Fox News Network, NY ABC affiliate WTBQ-AM, and others.

Lang is the author of two books: "Baby Steps:  The Path from Motherhood to Career" and "Creating Balance and Finding Happiness."