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Many would describe 2012 as a roller coaster with lots of hills, jolts and backward spins followed by some smooth riding which led to plunges that left them breathless.

Some are finishing out the year invigorated and expectant for the new year, while others have been shaken to their core, are weary and have no intention of looking back.

According to research, 45 percent of us will make New Year's resolutions. The top resolutions have something to do with losing weight, managing money, quitting smoking, living life to the fullest and spending more time with family.

As we approach the new year, all of us have an opportunity to write a new chapter. If you have children, they are watching and learning from you about how to handle all the twists and turns of life. This is a perfect opportunity to teach them about goal setting, failure, starting over, celebrating accomplishments and understanding the motivation behind certain goals.

One of the reasons people fail to keep New Year's resolutions is setting their goals too high. Here are some tips to help you and your family make New Year's resolutions you can keep.

• Make goals realistic. Avoid setting yourself up for failure by choosing a goal that is a major change. For example, if working out is a goal, instead of saying that you will work out every day, set a goal to begin working out two or three times a week.

• Put your plan in writing. Studies have shown that if you write out your plan, you are more likely to work your plan. Place it on your bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator as a reminder of what you are working towards.

• Enlist the help of family and friends to hold you accountable. Share resolutions with your children and encourage them to ask about your progress.

• Don't allow setbacks to derail your efforts. Every day is a new day. If yesterday was an epic fail, put it behind you. Start fresh the next day.

• Avoid getting carried away. Instead of setting a bunch of goals for yourself, decide on one or two areas where you will focus your time and energy.

• Celebrate. You don't have to wait until you completely achieve your goal to celebrate. Plan something special for yourself when you reach your halfway point to help inspire you to keep going.

When your children see you working towards realistic goals and making progress, you are teaching them that, no matter what life hands them, they can have control of some positive changes in their lives. That is a powerful gift that will carry them through 2013 and years to come.

Email Julie Baumgardner at julieb@firstthings.org.

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