No matter how charmed (or challenging”> life can be, the new year always seems to startle us into finding ways to make it better. Remember that trying to make too many changes at once may be so overwhelming that we quit before even getting started. But choosing one really important goal is doable, right?

What is a must for you in 2009? Maybe you want to find a new love. Maybe your goal is a leaner, stronger body. Or, maybe your inner fashionista is calling for a new curly hairstyle, revamped wardrobe or makeup makeover.

Whatever you choose, making it happen will take a little soul-bearing honesty and a lot of action. Here are a few ways we can all get started on our resolutions as we ring in the new year. And keep them.

If you… MUST have a new ‘do:

What to consider:

What kind of haircut and style will fit into your lifestyle? For example, a dramatic new ‘do that requires a lot of maintenance probably won’t work if you have a harried schedule and only a few spare minutes each morning.

Are you really ready for a major style change or are you making an emotional decision (that you may regret later”> based on, say, a heart-wrenching breakup with a boyfriend?

Get started:

Flip through beauty magazines, tear out pages of hairstyles you like. Take your top three favorites to your stylist to see what will work for your hair type.

If you see someone whose hairstyle you love, stop and ask them about it, then make an appointment for a consultation with their stylist.

curly hair

If you… MUST update your wardrobe:

What to consider:

What fashionable items do you absolutely need (not just want”>? What pieces would have the most dramatic effect on your style?

Is your wardrobe dominated by black and white? Are you yearning for a splash of color? What colors complement your skin type?

Get started:

First, pull out clothes you haven’t worn in a year and donate them to Goodwill, Salvation Army or some other charitable organization. You can also invite your friends over for drinks, ask them to bring their unwanted outfits and swap!

Now that you have extra space in your closet, make a list of items (and colors”> that would jazz up your wardrobe for work and play. Narrow it down to your must-haves, research the styles (and deals”> online and then head to the stores with specific garments in mind. With a list in hand, you’ll stay focused instead of shopping randomly — and ending up with buyer’s remorse.

curly hair

If you… MUST make over your makeup:

What to consider:

What products are you using now that aren’t working for you anymore? For example, does your foundation seem to dull your complexion instead of brighten it? Have you worn the same basic (brown, green or fill-in-the-blank”> eyeshadow for what seems like forever? What are your best facial features? Once you decide what you want to focus on, you’ll be better prepared to make a change.

Get started:

Make appointments for a complimentary makeover at three (or more”> different makeup counters in your local department store. Then, let go of the reins and allow the makeup artist to create a look that fits your skin tone and face shape. (Don’t judge until it’s over!”>

Afterward, write down the products and colors that you liked best, and consider whether you will really use them. You can also ask for samples, especially of foundation, so you can test the products another time or two before you decide to buy.

Redken Extreme Iron Repair

cutline here

If you… MUST find a new love:

What to consider:

What qualities are you looking for in a partner? (Yes, write down as many of them as you can think of.”> Dating experts often suggest you then narrow the list to three “must-have” qualities and consider the rest of your “wish” list. Next to that, decide on your “deal-breakers” so you can avoid those dating dramas altogether.

Why do you want a new relationship? Are you trying to escape problems in other areas of your life or do you want to find someone who simply adds to your full life?

Get started:

Tell close friends and family that you want to find someone special, and ask if they know a good match. Then, when they actually set you up, approach the blind date with an open mind and heart. (At the very least, you make a new friend, right?”>

Hire a dating coach or matchmaker or sign up for an online dating service. (No, this does not mean you’re desperate.”> If you want to meet new and interesting people, chances are they’re not all in your neighborhood or connected to your inner circle of friends. Besides, in this age of Twitter and Facebook, everyone is online now, so why not meet a date that way?

If you… MUST get in shape:

What to consider:

What does getting in shape mean to you? Do you want to lose body fat and drop two or three dress sizes? Do you want more energy or strength and muscle? All of the above? How much time can you realistically devote to exercise? Do you travel a lot? You’ll want to think about how you can incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.

Get started:

Write down your top three fitness goals, in order of importance — and be specific. Consult with your doctor and consider hiring a personal trainer to get started. (Make sure you check the trainer’s certification, ask about their training style and philosophy, and get references before signing up.”>

Keep a food journal for a week and write down every bite of food. Review it after the week is up and you’ll likely see patterns in your eating habits. Decide what foods you can live without, and what healthful foods will take their place. Also, recruit a friend to create his or her own health and fitness goals. Then, you can motivate each other to stick to the plan and stay focused!

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