As I stand in the driveway, the temperature can’t be more than—optimistically, let’s say—seven degrees at most right now. Chunks of snow fall from the neighbor’s oak tree, and with a side-step through a fresh bed of snow and crushed leaves, I dodge the frozen blobs that drift from above.

“You know you look ridiculous, right?” My wife is referring to my light jacket, running shorts, exposed legs, and sneakers.

“Yes, I know. Just get in the van.” I concur. She’s dressed a bit warmer, in exercise pants that cover her legs.

Today is the first day of the year, we are both headed to the gym, for there are some promises we must keep.

While this narrative is written days after our initial trip to the gym, the story is not about what happens when we walked in the door. You see—the focus of today’s nouns, verbs, and adjectives—it is all about taking control of something in your life—that is taking control of your life—and making a positive change to rectify that situation.

For me: it’s my waistline, and it’s been my exceeding too-large-frame, for many years. For you: it could be a lazy attitude, lustful eyes, gossiping at the coffee shop, Cool Ranch Doritos, Class I and II narcotics, gin and juice, or simply sharing too many cat memes on every social media network. Honestly, I don’t care about your specific vice, because I have enough difficulty focusing on my own, and modifying my behavior accordingly.

You, yourself, should care enough about the demon that haunts you, the vice that beckons you from a deep sleep, and the one thing in your life that you just…can’t…quit…ever. Do you have it in your mind now? Are you focusing on that specific monster? That’s the one that you need to defeat. Make a promise to yourself right now, to tackle that skeleton in your closet, over the course of this year, starting now—go ahead, I’ll wait right here.

The first step in change, is to admit that you have a problem. And while that sounds like it makes a lot of healthy sense, to a healthy mind, it is ridiculously easy to ignore the first step of the process, or you will be knee-deep in denial. The Nile isn’t just some big, fancy river in Egypt. To change your bad habits, you must completely change the way that you think about an issue. You have to obtain a new perspective about it, and only then will you be able to change the way you interact with that aspect of your life.

Speaking from a nutritional perspective, this is why I have failed at losing weight every year for the last ten years. I treat the challenge like a short-term sprint. I am very fast out of the gate: I eat healthy foods; I perform some random acts of exercise; and I make infinite promises to myself that this year will be different. Kind of like I am right now, or even at the start of my 5K training a few months ago.

Halfway through the race, I run out of energy, and can’t imagine continuing: two donuts for breakfast doesn’t sound that bad; I guess that I have to eat pizza, if I’m attending a social function or birthday party; well, it’s just too something (cold or hot or wet) to run outside; or my schedule is too hectic to shoehorn a healthy lifestyle within the folded pages of my stuffed day planner. Each excuse for delay, and breakdown in the process, is a wedge placed between me and my goal. Eventually, that wedge splits my initial claim of “I’m going to be healthy this year, for sure, you fools!”, and I feel like a fool myself.

Wash, rinse, repeat. I’ve been completing that specific process of failure for a long, long time now.

This year, 2018, can be the year that I finally discover a flame inside of me that longs for change, that roots for Team Healthy Living, that can burn hotter than all of the other distractions in my life—either ones that I create to self-sabotage, or ones that other people throw in my path—that keep me from achieving my goal.

You too can accomplish success as well, but first, you have to remember that there are some promises we must keep. And then actually keep them.