One of the things that I look forward to the most at the end of the year is sitting down to write my New Year's resolutions. Does that sound unusual? New Year's resolutions typically get a bad rap. Some people argue that you just can’t keep up with them. Few people remember they've set them past January 2. And you can probably fill in the blank with several more reasons to make your own resolution, "Stop Making New Year's Resolutions."
The first time I sat down to chronicle my resolutions and really took it seriously was at the beginning of 2012. Sitting down to think through my goals—which I look at as a year long to-do list—really helps me prioritize my time through the next twelve months. At the end of the year, it's rewarding to see what goals I accomplished.
Four years later, I still make a new list every year. It's not too late for you to compile some goals for 2016. Here are my five tips for creating and accomplishing your own New Year's resolutions:
1. Carry your resolutions with you.
Write your resolutions down a small journal or notebook you can carry with you. Always having a reminder of what you're working towards will help you actually accomplish your list. Below are some of my favorite portable journals:
2. Start small.
If you're a resolution newbie, set yourself up for success by determining a set number of things you would like to accomplish. In the past I have chosen 12 items to do in 12 months. This year I have five. Might I suggest you start with one or two? Two goals to accomplish this year. You can definitely fit that into your schedule over the next 12 months.
Do you want to spend more time reading, volunteering, or organizing? What would you like to see change in your life, home, or community? If you need some help getting started, check out Lifehack's list of 50 New Year's Resolutions.
4. Make each goal specific and attainable.
For example, if you'd like to "Read more" in 2016 be specific about the number of books and even what book titles you would like to read. The ambiguous "More" will have you making excuses all the way to December (i.e. “Does one word more count?”). I like to think of what I would normally do and then set my goal slightly ahead. So if I read three books last year, I might write my goal as “Read six books by December 2016” and follow it up with a reading list.
5. Review your goals regularly and make notes.
In your resolutions notebook, use one or two pages to write out each goal—leaving some blank space for future notes. Then, review your resolutions monthly to remind yourself of the end goal and make notes on your progress. At the end of the year, you will be able to trace your progress through your notes and be inspired!
A final note, remember that these goals aren’t set in stone – You made them, and you can change them! I don't feel bad if I don’t get every single thing on the list accomplished. Focus on what you DO get done and reevaluate the incomplete items at the end of the year as you think about your next year’s list.
What do you want to accomplish this coming year?
Adapted from my 2012 Blog Post, Topical Journaling: Resolutions Journal.