Elul, the last month of the Jewish year, is a period of contemplation and reflection. We review our actions and accomplishments over the past year and resolve to do better in the coming one. During prayers on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we solidify those decisions.

Resolutions, though, are notorious for petering out not long after they’re made. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, offered a number of suggestions to keep our resolutions long-lasting and meaningful.

1. Action is better than inaction.

It’s easy to get distracted by endless calculation and contemplation over which would be the best course of action, and whether a specific resolution will really make a difference. The truth is that every good deed — even a minute one — is better than inaction. So go ahead and make your resolution.1

2. Keep it attainable.

Your resolution should push you out of your comfort zone—it should be a little more than you feel you can easily attain. At the same time, you should keep it practical and realistic, to help ensure that it lasts.

To people who spent the day at work and wanted to study in the evening, the Rebbe suggested the shorter tractates of Talmud and the practical laws of Judaism—smaller doses of study that would be conducive following a tiring day.2

3. Be specific.

A vague, all-encompassing resolution is one that easily evaporates. Instead of saying, “I will be a kinder person,” say, “I will act more kindly to my difficult colleague at work.” You can also limit your resolution to a time period of several weeks or months instead of “from now on.” Being specific with the timing and scope of your resolution increases the likelihood that you will follow through.3

4. Tell the world.

Publicly announcing your resolution adds accountability, and creates a network of loved ones who can keep you motivated and help you out when the going gets tough.4

5. Start right away.

Philip Stanhope, fourth Earl of Chesterfield, wrote “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” The Rebbe, however, focused on immediacy. Anything good that is worth doing is worth doing now. Don’t wait for tomorrow; get your resolution in full swing today.5

6. Take it day by day.

The best way to get a huge project done is to break it into smaller, more manageable pieces. A person once asked how to reach a greater level in study, and the Rebbe responded: “Take it step by step.”6 In The 5 AM Club, Robin Sharma calls it “day-stacking.” He explains that small things done daily are far more important than big things done once in a while. By enhancing a skill by just one percent every day, you amount to a 365 percent improvement over a year.

7. Set a reminder.

Making your resolution part of your daily routine can increase the likelihood that it gets done, and one way to do that is to set a recurring reminder. A child realized she had been behaving disrespectfully towards a parent and asked the Rebbe for advice. The Rebbe suggested that she write down the Biblical commandment to “Honor your father and mother” and keep it in her pocket to read every so often.7

A positive resolution is a powerful thing, and even when it’s something you always thought you couldn’t do, you may well find the inner strength to get it done. As the Rebbe taught, when you take upon yourself a good decision, even if you don’t necessarily see how it will naturally happen, G‑d grants you additional energies to take you across the finish line.8

Good luck!