When you look back on the past year, what feelings come up? Maybe feelings of gratitude — for the relationships you’ve built & strengthened, a successful year at work, or the growth you experienced personally. Maybe last year was a particularly trying one, and you feel the heaviness of sadness, loss, or worry.
Whatever this past year looked like for you, the start of a new year is a season for reflection on the past and a hopeful look towards what’s ahead. When you close your eyes and picture yourself a year from today doing this same activity, what do you hope to have accomplished? How do you want to feel? What are your goals – and what actions do you need to take to achieve them?
With these things in mind, you can now set your resolutions accordingly.
New Year's Resolutions are a hot topic at this time of year. While great in theory, they are notoriously challenging for people to achieve and sustain. The good news? Failed resolutions tend to have two things in common. That means that on the flip side, if you can focus on these two things when setting your own goals, you’re much more likely to succeed!
The first step to creating resolutions that are achievable and sustainable in the long run is to make sure that they are clear. This might sound simple at first, but when you evaluate your resolution as part of this step, you might be surprised to find that it is in fact lacking clarity.
Let’s hone in on what we mean by clarity. A clear resolution is specific and follows a structure/system. Without specificity and a system, it becomes nearly impossible to accurately assess if we’ve actually achieved it — and it becomes easier to let ourselves off the hook.
An example of a resolution that lacks clarity might look something like this: “I want to work out more.” Now, let’s turn this into a clearer resolution: “I want to complete a 30-minute workout 5 days a week.”
So, how can we turn unclear resolutions into stronger ones? One of our favorite ways to guide people in bringing clarity to their resolutions is to rely on the SMART goal format.
What is a SMART goal?
The SMART goal framework can be incredibly helpful in ensuring that your resolutions are clear, organized and follow a plan. Ensure that your resolution has each of these five elements:
The second step in the process of setting effective resolutions is to create them with strong intention.
The first question we need to answer here is: what does intention really mean? An intention is a purpose or a guiding principle. It is the bigger reasoning behind the things that we do.
Without intention, resolutions are often weak and powerless — and it’s easy to give up on them. Intention gives us the motivation to keep taking steps forward, even when the journey gets hard.
An intentional resolution is one that’s connected to your values, the things that you hold closest to your heart. If you aren’t sure what your core values are, start by setting aside a few minutes to identify 5-10 of them — there are lots of values lists online if you need some examples, and we have a great values tutorial & activity of our own for you check out!
Once you’ve got them identified and written down, evaluate your resolution based on how it relates to what’s most important to you. If you find that your resolution does not support your values, it’s probably a red flag indicator that it will be difficult to sustain.
Let’s take a look at our example from above and analyze it for intention.
See the difference? Intention makes or breaks the process!
Remember: clarity and intention are both important metrics to analyze your resolution on. You can have a clear goal that lacks connection to a deeper purpose, and you can also have a resolution that supports your values but that lacks a clear plan. Both are equally essential in resolution success!
Maybe resolutions aren’t for you — and that’s okay! There are so many other ways to set your year up for success. Before we wrap up, we want to share some resolution substitutes with you. We encourage you to give one of them a try today!
Whether you’re hoping to achieve “New Year New Me” status or just to make some small, high impact adjustments in your life, be sure that all your resolutions are clear and intentional. Be specific about what you hope to achieve, create a sustainable and measurable plan to support it, and connect with your values to keep motivation strong.
We’ll leave you with one final reminder: resolutions are not about perfection! Off days do not mean failure — be gentle with yourself and reconnect with your plan and your values when you feel yourself falling short. Here’s to a fulfilling year ahead!
Download this New Years Resolution Tracker to keep you clear & intentional this year!