This blog post is for those of you who are skeptical about resolutions AND for those of you who are already sold on the idea.
Why is writing New Year’s resolutions important?
1. It is a wonderful opportunity to identify your hopes, desires, and dreams for your life.
2. It helps you organize and formalize your dreams into tangible goals.
3. It provides a way to evaluate the areas of your life that are working well and areas for improvement.
4. It gives you a sense of direction and purpose – helping you live an intentional life.
5. By helping you achieve your dreams, resolutions increase the likelihood that you will experience a fulfilling, satisfying life.
I recommend getting a head-start on your New Year’s resolutions by writing them in December; so that you are ready to hit the ground running at the beginning of January.
A 5-Step Exercise for Writing New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Create a master list.
Take 10 minutes to brainstorm and write down all the things you’d like to do in the next year, in this case, 2014. Write down every idea that occurs to you. Do not self-edit or judge your ideas. Be sure to consider all areas of your life, like family, friends, hobbies, work, fitness, and spirituality.
2. Prioritize your master list.
Read over your master list, and circle the goals that are most important to you. These circled items make up your prioritized list.
3. Divide your prioritized list into short-term and long-term goals.
For the purpose of this exercise, short-term goals are those that you can achieve in one year or less. Long-term goals are those that you need more than one year to achieve. Often people underestimate the amount of time required to accomplish a goal. Try to be honest with yourself about this.
Looking only at the circled goals in the master list, place a star next to the goals that will require more than one year to achieve (your long-term goals). Transfer these items to another piece of paper entitled “Long-term Goals.” Save this list of long-term goals to work on at a later time. (The present exercise is focused on developing short-term goals–goals you can achieve in 1 year or less)
Then, transfer those circled items on the master list WITHOUT a star next to them (your short-term goals) to a third piece of paper entitled, “New Year’s Resolutions.”
4. Streamline your list of New Year’s resolutions.
At this point in the exercise, your list should contain between 5 and 10 short-term goals.
Evaluate your list. Are there any goals that you’d like to add or remove? If you have fewer than 5, make sure you’ve considered all areas of your life (see Step #1 above). If you have more than 10, you will need to reduce this list by prioritizing your goals, as you did with your master list in Step #2.
5. Make your resolutions specific and concrete.
Read your resolutions and make sure they are not too general. After you make each resolution as specific as possible, write 2-3 tangible steps that you will take to reach your goal. See the 2 examples below.
Bad example–too general and vague
1. Lose weight
a. Workout more.
b. Eat healthy meals more often.
c. Drink less alcohol.
Good example– specific and concrete
1. Lose 10 pounds by October 1, 2012
a. Jog 3 days/week.
b. Eat steamed vegetables 5 days/week.
c. Drink alcohol only on Fridays and Saturdays, and no more than 3 drinks each day.
Good luck developing your resolutions for the year! You should be proud of yourself for going through this process and being intentional about how you want to spend your time and energy this year.
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