Keeping New Years resolutions can be difficult, but it is possible.

It is a tradition to set a New Year resolution or two when the fresh start of the next year comes along.

New Year
A new year symbolizes a new start.

It is a clean slate, a new beginning, and the feeling of change is in the air. Setting new goals, or renewing old ones, is a good way to start the year, but how is your follow through? At the end of each year, do you look back at your resolutions from the beginning of that year and check the boxes, acknowledging your completed goals? Or do you remember that you’d set some but don’t know what they were? Or do you remember and use them again for the new year because you hadn’t reached them?

Whichever category you fall into, there are ways to be the new you that you’ve dreamed of at the beginning of each year. The new year, new you can be here to stay.

A Habit of Goal Setting

Though a new year is a good place to start, it doesn’t have to be the only place to start. You can set goals year round! You can think big or small, even medium. Where are you now? Where do you want to be next week? In 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? Goals don’t have to be restricted to the beginning of the year. Start with your big goals, such as where you want to be in 10 years, then set smaller goals to get you there. If you want to be set in a career that is mentally and financially satisfying then set small goals to get you there, such as complete necessary schooling, or obtain a stepping-stone job. If you want to lose weight, start with setting a goal for 3 months ahead, see where you are there, then set other goals accordingly. Set goals often and for any period of time. Continually set and reach goals, enhancing your life often.

Write Down Your Goals

Write goals
Write your goals where you can refer to them.

“If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal- you have a wish.” Steve Maraboli

Writing down your goals make them more solid and more likely to be reached. It deepens your level of commitment, making your dream a reality. Get more specific by writing down your big goal then breaking it down into smaller goals, setting weekly or monthly goals leading to the big one.

Once you’ve written it down, put it somewhere you’ll see it often and be reminded. You can put it on your mirror, or in your planner. It can be a regular reminder on your phone. You can take a picture of your list and set it as your phone’s background picture. Put it somewhere you look often.

Positive Light

As you set your goals, write them in a positive tone. For example, instead of writing “don’t watch so much TV” write “be more productive with my time.” It is easier to accomplish something than it is to avoid something. Your goal will feel more reachable. It can be a challenge to phrase goals this way, but you can also use this exercise to set more specific goals. Such as describing how you will be more productive: “read 12 books a year.”

Adjust as Needed

You can adjust your goals to make them more reachable or challenging.

When setting goals, it is easy to underestimate the difficulty of reaching it. If you start your goal and find that it is too easy or too hard, adjust. Goals should be hard enough to stretch you but not so hard that you are doomed to fail from the start. If you want to save 20% of your income and, after trying it, you realize it isn’t working, adjust it. Try saving 15% or 10%. Once you’re able to do that, revisit your goal of saving 20%. Goals should be life-enhancing, not stressful.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value and Rewards

Think about why you want to complete each goal. What does it mean for you? How does accomplishing your goal help you?

Extrinsic value is value coming from external factors. For example, losing weight to be more attractive. It is harder to reach a goal that is centered on extrinsic values because they don’t mean as much to the goal setter.

Intrinsic value is value that comes from internal factors, such as character. For example, losing weight and eating healthy to improve self-control.

Determine your reasons for your goal and find the intrinsic value. Intrinsic rewards will make it easier to keep up your goal, reaching it and keeping it. You can improve your life long-term. 

Completing goals pushes you to improve and become the person you aspire to be.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Henry David Thoreau

Set goals of all sizes often, write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see them often, frame them in a positive tone, make necessary adjustments, and find the value in reaching them. You can make goals and reach them throughout your life, anytime of year. Improve your life continually and you won’t have to wait until the new year to begin the road to a new you.

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