Make New Year's resolutions you can keep or it's a waste of time. Set timescales for major changes in your lifestyle and break down your targets into measurable segments.

We have all made foolish and wide-sweeping New Year's resolutions in the past; things like stopping smoking, losing weight and taking more exercise.

These are fine as overall aims, but they need to be broken down so that you can measure your degree of success. With a sweeping statement like "I will stop smoking" the minute you have one cigarette, your resolution is gone, probably by January 2nd.

The end of one year and the start of a new one is a great opportunity to re-assess our lives and to make new plans, but the key is plans.

A word of warning, New Year's resolutions are ten a penny; easy come, easy go. We all make New Year's resolutions because it is easy to do so. Easy equates to good and achievable in our minds. Easy is actually a total waste of time except as a party game and that is all that most New Year resolutions are good for.

A New Year's PLAN takes time and effort, but you are more likely to stick to it because you have put thought and effort into it.

Your New Year's resolutions should be part of your New Year's Five Year Plan, rather than standing alone, to fall easily by the wayside.

Most people never even think about their priorities in life. Nobody has time to think about the big picture because we are all so caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day life. Most companies have a ten year plan, but individuals very rarely do. Even business people who have a ten year plan for their business rarely apply the planning principle to their private lives.

You need a long-term plan to assess your progress towards your life goals. Most people have vague ideas about getting rich as they become older, or moving out of the city, about starting their own business or ending a relationship.

Vague ideas NEVER happen. If you are serious about your life plans you need to follow a few simple steps to change your dreams into plans.

How to Produce a 5 Year Life Plan

Buy a diary, ideally a five or ten year diary. You could use a notebook, but a diary gives more discipline and sense of purpose.

Write down all the important things in your life in a list. These will include your health, your partner's health, your children, your house, your parents and money.

Next to each one write down what you would like to change. Be specific, If you want more money, how much more money would you like.

Be ambitious in your list, because these represent your long-term targets in your 5 year life plan.

Plan things out in a notebook or on sheets of paper, because your diary targets should be permanent ones, crossing out in your diary is a bad habit to get into.

On today's date in your diary make a list of your life plan's objectives with your current status alongside each one. If your objective is to have more money, write down how much you currently owe. If your objective is to lose weight, write down your current weight. If your objective is to become fitter, note your current blood pressure or the results of a gym's fitness assessment tests.

You have written down what you want to achieve, now is the tough part. Work out HOW you can make progress towards each of your objectives. There will be many small steps, just jot them all down for now. This will take a while and you may need to come back to it.

This stage of the process can be traumatic. For the first time you are trying to map out exactly how you are going to achieve your life's objectives. You will come to realise that for the past five, perhaps ten years you have done nothing towards the most important things in your life. You have allowed yourself to be distracted by daily life and have lost sight of where you want to be.

It might help to break down your five-year objectives into annual ones. If you cannot envision a way to reach your five year objectives then work out a way that you might just possibly meet your first year objectives,

If your current income is $2,000 a month and your five year objective is $25,000 a month then it is better to plan to achieve a doubling to $4,000 a month in the first year. You can assess in twelve months time how achievable a second year target of $10,000 a month might be. The plan is always amendable, just as long as you are making progress.

If you are currently fifty pounds overweight and out of breath from pressing the TV remote control then to set an objective of running marathons in five years is reasonable, but not measurable. You need objectives you can achieve in a year or six months, objectives that you can measure your progress against.

Once you have annual objectives in each area, transfer your Year 1 objectives into your five year diary for this date next year.

A year is a long time away. Divide your annual target into eleven and write down those target breakdowns into your diary at monthly intervals. Eleven is better, because then you have a month's leeway to enable you to achieve your annual objective if you need it. If you hit your twelve-month objective in eleven months you can always go beyond it.

Devise a systematic method of amending monthly targets to accommodate under-runs in previous months or special events. Do not just cross out the old objectives, writing the new one in using a different colour pen is one way of organising you diary five year plan.

Your Five Year Life Plan will give you back control of your life. Instead of waiting for life to bring you your just rewards you will be extracting them from life. You will be in the driver's seat instead of sitting in the back.