Confetti is dropped on revellers marking two hours to midnight during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square in New York
Jan. 1, 2012 is around the corner. Americans across the country take this time to reflect on the past year and decide what parts of themselves they hope to change and improve for the upcoming year. To embrace 2012, we took a look at the top 14 New Year's Resolutions in the U.S. and offer you seven tips for how to keep them unlike years in the past. REUTERS

It's that time of year again!

Jan. 1, 2012 is around the corner. Americans across the country take this time to reflect on the past year and decide what parts of themselves they hope to change and improve for the upcoming year. To embrace 2012, we took a look at the top 14 New Year's Resolutions in the U.S. and offer you seven tips for how to keep them unlike years in the past.

Most Popular New Year's Resolutions

1. Spend More Time with Friends and Family

Many Americans wish they could make more time for their friends and family. This year make your resolution come true by setting aside time on the weekends or after work. Try to have a family dinner with all the members in your family a couple of times each week and make an effort to meet up with friends after work and on the evenings.

2. Get Fit, Exercise More

As any gym member knows, the days after Jan. 1 each year are the most crowded gym days of the year. Unfortunately, members quickly cease going to the gym and by February each year the gym returns to its usual volume. This year stick with your goal. Go to gym classes that keep you in shape or sign up with a personal trainer. By having regular times and appointments, going to the gym will become part of your daily rituals.

3. Lose Weight

In addition to exercising more, many Americans hope to lose weight in 2012. The only way to stick to your goal is to set clear benchmarks for how much weight you hope to lose each month and by outlining clear steps for making those goals happen. Do not fall into the trap of depriving yourself of sweets and then binging a few days later.

4. Quit Smoking

Take the plunge this year. Whatever it takes - cold turkey, the patch, nicotine gum - 2012 is the year to quit. There is overwhelming evidence that cigarettes cause death from lung cancer, gum disease, and heart attacks. Save years of your life by quitting smoking.

5. Enjoy Life, Manage Stress

Most Americans complain that they are too stressed during the year. Manage your stress and take in control of your life by allowing for me time. If you enjoy golfing, set aside time to golf on the weekends. If you relax by going to a spa or getting a massage, schedule an appointment for early next year. Make 2012 the year where you enjoy life and worry less about work, money and personal problems.

6. Get Out of Debt, Manage Money

The past few years have been difficult for many American households. While the economy has not fully recovered, you can take control of your personal finances. Set strict goals to get out debt and create a budget for the first quarter of 2012 to figure out how much money you hope to spend and save.

7. Learn Something New

Whether you would like to learn a new language, attend a professional development event or take a class on fiction writing, 2012 is the year for you to learn something new. Before the New Year, choose exactly what you would like to learn and set out goals. Sign up for a class, schedule a conference or buy a book to learn new skills.

8. Drink Less Alcohol

Faced with the prospect of a night of champagne, many Americans will start the New Year with a resolution to drink less alcohol. Alcohol consumption can hurt your wallet, your liver and your body. Besides the frustrations of hangovers, alcohol has long term negative effects on the body. If you plan to drink less alcohol, be sure to decide what that means before beginning the New Year because it is easy to slip up.

9. Eat Healthier

Throw out your diet books and resolve in 2012 to eat healthier without a diet plan. Diets can be tiring and taxing, but eating healthy has the benefits of a diet and will make you feel great. Make a list of the foods you hope to leave out of your diet in 2012 and the foods you hope to eat more often. Jumping into a new health kick can be difficult to keep up, so start slow, but do not let yourself fall into old habits.

10. Be More Eco-Conscious and Recycle

Make 2012 the year you give back to planet Earth. Find the details for your local recycling online. You can also read up on eco-friendly products like shampoos and soaps that won't release toxins into the water. Buy yourself a reusable plastic water bottle and avoid using plastic bottles.

11. Save Money

Not only should you try to get rid of debt, but a popular New Year's resolution is saving money. Open a savings account and set aside a certain percent of your paycheck each month. As frustrating as it might be each month, at the end of the year you will have a nice amount of savings. At the end of the year, you can use your savings to take a vacation or to invest for retirement.

12. Volunteer to Help Others

Many Americans set out to volunteer more in the New Year, but many often do not commit to the resolution because life can be more hectic and busy than previously anticipated. Even if you do not have time to volunteer this year, donate money to a charity that is important to you or give back to the community by donating books, food and clothing.

13. Read More Books, Watch Less TV

Instead of coming home at the end of the day and putting on the TV, resolve this year to read more books. The Kindle Fire, Nook and iPad 2 were popular gifts this holiday season, which seems to indicate that consumers are hoping to read more newspapers, magazines and books. Be a part of the new trend and pick up a book instead of watching TV in 2012.

14. Go to Sleep Earlier

Many Americans feel there are not enough hours in the day and will stay up late to compensate for working long hours. By getting to sleep earlier the day might actually feel longer, because you will be refreshed for a larger part of the day. Instead of staying up late, make your resolution in 2012 to sleep earlier.

Tips for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions This Year

1. Start small and pick only one resolution

Instead of making a list of all the things you hope to change about yourself in 2012, start small and make one straightforward, simple resolution.

2. Make a specific resolution

It is a lot more difficult to stick to a vague resolution than it is to be consistent with a very specific resolution. If you want to lose weight, for example, set a specific goal about how much weight you hope to lose and by when. If you hope to lose 20 pounds in 2012, set a goal of 2 pounds each month.

3. Make a plan for how to achieve your goals

If you have one specific resolution, you will be able to achieve it so long as you make a plan. Outline a clear plan for how to get to your goal and you will be able to accomplish it.

4. Don't wait to start on New Year's Eve

Plan before New Year's! If you hope to start exercising more, get into the rhythm now. If you hope to sleep more, start now. By starting just before New Year's, it will be a slower transition when the day comes around.

5. Avoid repeating past failures by setting new habits

New Year's resolutions most often fall apart because people fall back on old habits and cannot stick to their new choices. Avoid repeating past failures by setting new habits and sticking to them. Of course, this is easier said than done, but by taking your new resolutions slowly, you can achieve your resolution rather than jumping into it and expecting too much.

6. Positive reinforcement

Remember that change takes time! The only way you will achieve your resolution is through positive reinforcement. If you slip up, don't give up. If you can stick to your resolution for at least thirty days, you should be able to reset your habits for 2012.

7. Make your resolution public

Sometimes peer pressure and public shame can help you in moments of weakness. By telling friends and family members your New Year's resolution, they may encourage you to stick with it and tease you gently if you fall behind. By making your resolution public, you will be more likely to keep it to the end of the year.