How to make awesome New Year’s resolutions

Dec 29, 2014

I know, I know – you’re groaning under the weight of holiday party buffets, getting 40-year old seasonal jingles stuck in your head 24/7, and not even done with your shopping yet. It’s the last week and a half of the year – who wants to think about New Year’s resolutions?

YOU, that’s who! It’s hard to make real, achievable New Year’s resolutions when nursing a champagne headache on January 2nd. Instead, the time between cleaning up unwrapped-present-detritus and making New Year’s Eve plans is the best time to formulate your year’s goals.

Three Steps to Making Awesome, Achievable New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Identify your reason

I think half of why most New Year’s resolutions fail is because they’re often depressing. After the sparkly over-sugared holiday season, who likes following austere rules?

While resolutions are often no-based – “No caffeine after 8 PM" – the reasons BEHIND resolutions are mostly positive: you want to cut out coffee after 8 because you want to get better sleep.

Think about the positive steps you want to take in the next year. Do you want to be stronger, more relaxed, more connected? What are the good things you want to welcome into your life – and what stands in the way of that? Get to the root of your resolution, before you actually put it into words.

2. Make ‘em specific

Generic resolutions like “Be healthier” are almost always doomed to a slow, puttering death. Take your newly-positively-motivated resolution and break it down into specific steps. For instance, if your resolution is to finally redo the kitchen, build in deadlines! For example:

January 1st: Create kitchen-oriented Pinterest board

February 2nd: Pick paint samples, research contractor

March 3rd: Sign with contractor

April 4th: Begin renovations

Breaking down big resolutions into small steps makes true year-long projects out of each goal – giving you time and space to actually take action.

3. Tell someone – and build in accountability

Find a friend or family member – not the sweetest one, not the pushover. Find someone who likes rules and enjoys being the bad cop. Ask them to be your New Year’s Enforcer… and tell them EXACTLY what they get to do to “punish” you if you don’t follow through. What results will you have to show them? Make it as wriggle-proof as possible.

I’ve found great success with this method; I regularly write checks to a friend, who gets to cash them if I don’t meet writing deadlines. Is it a pain? Do I hate it and beg (fruitlessly) for mercy on occasion? Yes! But darned if I don’t get my writing work done on time.

Lock yourself away from visiting relatives and over-excited children for an hour this holiday season, and take the time to come up with a real New Year’s resolution list. It’ll be worth it – and perhaps next year’s list will only read: “Stop being so awesome.”