As we embark on 2013, a little bleary-eyed from the holiday bustle, many of us will make promises to ourselves – the good ol’ New Year’s resolution.

Some of us start the year with steely resolve, looking to kick bad habits or improve ourselves. We see the same evidence of the New Year resolve each year, most clearly in busier-than-usual fitness centers and gyms. We see it in the commercials, geared toward helping us lose weight, get in shape or quit smoking.

As we get lost in the winter months, we often lose focus. We abandon that hope and belief we had when all the holiday lights were still shining.

Some of us abandoned resolutions long ago, knowing that they often don’t get fulfilled and only leave us feeling a pang of guilt. But here’s the good news: We can really take small steps to make our lives and the lives of those around us much better in the new year.

Here are a few small ideas that could make us all better people in the new year:

• Come up with one step you can take to be healthier and stick to it. Maybe it means no more potato chips, eating more spinach or taking the stairs up to your office, but whatever it is, do it.

• Volunteer, just once. We are all busy, but make a promise to yourself to give some of your time in 2013. Maybe it can be at your child’s school or with an organization you respect and admire. It could be as simple as washing some dishes or reading a book to kids. We promise it will make you feel like a better person and may open up more opportunities for you to make a difference.

• Practice smiling, even at strangers. When someone smiles at us, it’s hard not to smile back and feel just a bit happier. You can be that person that brightens up someone else’s day. Say hello, or just smile — it goes a long way.

• Let go of an old grudge or hurt. The person who did you wrong doesn’t even have to know you have forgiven, and it will take a burden off your shoulders. Who wants to hold on to that negativity? We all make mistakes, because we all have past hurts we hold on to and bring into the present. Let one of those go.

• Take a walk. Just once a week, bundle up, if need be, and get outside. That time alone with your thoughts and out in nature just makes you feel better.

• Try something new. We all know that feeling of nervousness and fear when we embark on something new and unknown. But we also know how darn good it feels when we accomplish something that we were afraid to try.

We wish you a happy, successful 2013. May you accomplish all your goals, and if not, at least enjoy the ride.