New Year’s Resolutions: Making Them Happen!

Happy New Year! We’re finally back—by now I hope you’re back to work and off to a great start. Welcome to the year of the Dragon! A sign of success and happiness, the Dragon year already promises great things ahead, and you’re probably already promising yourself a success-filled year ahead, too.

On January 1, Americans tend to be the most optimistic about the year to come. We all set plans of greatness for the next year. Everything goes perfectly at first. We exercise regularly, we eat more vegetables than usual, and we haven’t touched alcohol in days. We zoom along this path for maybe a few weeks before the inevitable happens: the rest of our lives get in the way and we forget our grand goals.

Below, from TIME, are the top 10 commonly broken New Year’s resolutions:

1) Lose weight and get fit.
2) Quit smoking.
3) Learn something new.
4) Eat healthier and diet.
5) Get out of debt and save money.
6) Spend more time with family.
7) Travel to new places.
8) Be less stressed.
9) Volunteer.
10) Drink less.

Aren’t you tired of never resolving your resolutions? I know I am. Instead of dwelling on failure, though, it’s important to acknowledge what’s going wrong here.

One aspect of goal making that sets people back is that they tend to set themselves up for failure. A lot of times, goals aren’t specific enough. Take the first from the list, for example. “Lose weight and get fit.” OK, great! But how much weight do you want to lose? And what’s your plan to lose that weight? We know the “what” but we don’t know the “how’s”. What happens is that people have an idea but they don’t have a plan. When it comes to resolutions, whether you achieve them is in the details.

Here’s how I aim to make my resolutions happen in 2012: by being specific. This means writing out my goals as such:

Resolution: At the end of each day, I want to be thankful for something.
Why I want this:
To help me see all the blessings in my life, even in the events that don’t go the way I planned. There’s always something to be learned.
How I’m going to make it happen:
Keep a calendar in which I write down every night what I’m thankful for on that day.
Ongoing. No deadline. Just write at least one thing I’m thankful for every single day.

By detailing my goals, I’ve given myself directions on how I can really make this happen. Instead of aiming for a general goal, I’ve made it very specified. This helps me see my goal more clearly, and also helps me see how attainable it truly is. I’m seeing the how’s and why’s of my goals instead of the hopeful end result.

In 2012, I’m making a commitment to myself to stick with my top goal. It can be something small or something huge; it can be giving up something or adding something to your routine. Whatever your resolution is, my wish for you is that it enriches your life. And whatever it is, commit yourself to it. Figure out your what’s, why’s, and how’s, and you’ll be set. Here’s to an incredible new year!

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