How to Set Perfect New Year’s Resolutions

Having done recruitment for a long time, I know that most of us have a think over the holidays and come up with revolutionary plans for January and the year ahead. Some of us follow through on these plans, some of us don’t.

What are the factors that make for effective resolutions? Well, these are rules that work for me and people around me so I thought I’d share them well before you start getting to work on next year’s action plans.

1) Make them achievable:

Don’t cheat yourself when making resolutions. If your goal was to quit smoking this year and the last 7 years, you are not very likely to kick the habit next year. If you set a goal that you won’t achieve, it will only have a demoralizing effect on your psyche and you are worse off. Be honest with yourself and set objectives that will challenge and stretch you but definitely are achievable with hard work.

2) Make them measurable:

What gets measured, get done as the wise fellow said. Buying a house on stilts, traveling to Patagonia, auditioning for the X-Factor are all goals that you will know when you have achieved. Merely saying ‘learning old church Slavonic’ isn’t good enough, it has to be more detailed than that. Make it: ‘will take 50 lessons and pass exam level B and be able to order fine wine at a restaurant in Slavonia’. If you can come up with milestones or goals, that’s even better as you can track your progress easier.

3) Write everything down:

We already know that goals that are not written down are simply dreams, this goes for New Year’s Resolutions as well. Start working on a master list of what you want to achieve, break it down into categories and set estimated finished dates. These lists and deadlines will be hardwired into your brain and your unconscious will take you closer to your objectives every day.

4) Spread the word:

You have to commit to your resolutions and by telling the world, i.e. your friends and family, you establish accountability. If you tell everyone you are running a marathon next year, they will pester you with questions for the next 12 months so you had better get out and train.

5) Support network:

If you can, try to buddy up with someone else that has the same objective as it’s great to have peer support at hand. This could be friends or it could be other like-minded folks online, at the gym, at your philately club, etc. A support network is extremely useful when you ground to a halt or when you achieve a through the goal and find yourself a bit lost for what to do next. People love to talk about their own exploits and how they got there so make use of others’ success.

6) Reward yourself:

Remember to encourage your small wins with little rewards. These rewards will keep you going when you need it the most. Rewards can be anything from a cup of ginger tea to a weekend in the city of lights. Whatever rewards work for you, remember to hand them out when appropriate.

7) Flexibility:

Remember that what seems like the perfect plan in December could all change once January kicks in. External factors will always move the goalposts and you have to factor these in. Just because your resolutions are an annual thing doesn’t mean you cannot change them as you go along, just like you would with any goals in life.

Examples of resolutions:

If you are stuck, why not do your bit for the environment and recycle other people’s most common resolutions? Here is a little list:

  • Change jobs (very popular in January, fizzles out in February/March)
  • Buy something big (a house, car, boat, dilapidated sausage factory in western Pennsylvania)
  • Get fit (sign up for a gym, start cycling, taking the stairs at work)
  • Get involved in your community (charities, local government, activism)
  • Work on your personal brand (all the rage nowadays)
  • Start writing again (manuscript, blog posts, memoirs).

Your turn:

What are your resolutions for next year? Please share and inspire others!

RELATED: How to Start the New Year with a New Job

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