Whether you want to start eating healthier, read more books or up your exercise, the New Year is a great time to set goals for self-improvement. While well-intentioned resolutions often fall to the wayside, this year set yourself up for success and craft a resolution you’ll actually keep with this simple, resolution-writing guide. Here’s how:
1. Pick a Personal Resolution
Get started by taking a quick inventory of things you would like to improve or learn this year and rank them according to personal importance. The resolutions that are most likely to last are the ones loaded with passion and personal meaning.
For now, focus on your top one or two goals. It’s important to start small and make gradual progress toward what’s most important. Take on too much, and you’ll be more likely to give up altogether.
2. Create an Action Plan
Now that you’ve got a meaningful resolution in mind, it’s time to put together a plan to get you from point A to B. Stretch goals are great but are more easily to tackle when broken up into into several smaller “stepping stone” goals. When creating your action plan, work backwards and think about the steps you need to take to achieve your goal and deadlines you’ll need to meet along the way.
3. SMART-check your goals.
Goals—hard, easy, big or small—need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Resolutions that meet these criteria are infinitely more actionable and achievable.
- Specific: Add as much detail to your goal as possible. Rather than vaguely saying, “I want to eat healthier,” make it actionable with more detail. For example, it’s much more effective and actionable to say, “I will fill half my dinner plate with vegetables or salad five nights a week and pack a healthy lunch to take to work at least four days a week.”
- Measurable: Measurability is essential for tracking progress and accountability because it’s clear whether or not you’ve achieved what you intended to do. Saying, “I want to eat healthier” is hard to measure whereas, “I will fill half my dinner plate with vegetables or salad five nights a week,” is easy to measure and track progress throughout the week.
- Achievable: Lofty goals are great but make sure your resolution isn’t entirely out of reach. If you had a hard time putting together an action plan, it might be worth considering how doable it really is.
- Relevant: Don’t set goals to appease others, or because you feel like it’s something you “should” do. Relevant resolutions are rooted in personal meaning, self-love and should bring you happiness.
- Time-bound: Everyone works better with a deadline, so make sure your resolution has a realistic timeline attached to it. For big goals, set several smaller deadlines along the way to keep you on track and curb procrastination.
Now that you’ve written a strong resolution, it’s time to get going on those goals!
Don’t forget, hiccups will happen, so when they do allow yourself some flexibility and grace when life gets in the way. Surrounding yourself with like-minded others will provide a system of support, and celebrating the little wins along the will help you maintain momentum when motivation wanes.