How To Create Successful New Year’s Resolutions

In Five Easy Steps

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It is New Year’s Resolution time, time to set intentions and goals for 2021. I’ve personally set New Year’s Resolutions each year since I was a 10-year-old. As a life coach, when December rolls around, many of my clients spend a full one or two sessions with me to discover and develop their goals for the upcoming year. This year, I decided to use the following framework for not simply defining my goals, but also as a framework for my clients in their resolution defining sessions. We’ve found that the experience has led to resolutions that feel much more well-thought through than in the past and that have very workable action plans. If you have ever worked with me or any other ICF certified coach, you’ll recognize the five mandatory questions that are used to establish the coaching agreement at the beginning of each and every coaching session:

  1. What would you like to work on in the session today?
  2. What goal, specifically, would you like to have achieved by the end of the session?
  3. How will we know we’ve been successful by the end of the session? In other words, what will be our measure of success?
  4. Why is achieving this goal important to you?
  5. What do you believe you need to address or resolve in order to achieve this goal?

I’ve found that this framework is such a powerful guide to setting and visualizing goals, that I suggest using it as you move towards setting resolutions for the new year. Let’s take each of these questions and explore how we may adapt them to helping us successfully achieve our resolutions this new year.

  1. What would you like to work on in 2021?

Spend time to seriously contemplate what you would like to work on this year? Here are some categories to look at – having balance is important to emotional well-being. Is there an area of your life that could use more work this year than other areas?

  • Health and Fitness
  • Intellectual Life
  • Emotional Life
  • Your Character
  • Your Spiritual Life
  • Love Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Social Life
  • Financial
  • Career
  • Quality of Life
  • Life Vision
  1. Looking at your resolution – narrow it down to what goal, specifically, would you like to have achieved by the end of the year?

Be as specific as possible.

For example, if my resolution is to “let go of the fear of judgment”.

Under that resolution, my specific goal may read, “I will keep a judgment journal, and each time I feel that uncomfortable feeling of being concerned that I’m being judged or that I’m judging someone else, I’ll date it, and spend a few minutes writing in my journal which will provide a time of reflection and it will help me to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought that may exist.”

  1. How will we know we’ve been successful by the end of the year? In other words, what will be our measure of success?

On December 31, 2021, a year from now, what will determine whether or not you’ve met your resolution? Look deeper than the actual resolution – think about how you want to feel when the resolution is complete. What will successfully completing this resolution look like to you? How will completing this resolution change your life?

  1. Why is achieving this resolution important to you?

It is really important to know the why. Check in with yourself. Is this a resolution that you want to achieve for yourself or is it a resolution that some external factor says you need to achieve? The resolution has to be something that you want to achieve for it to be successful. You also need to understand why the resolution is important to you. I often ask my clients a scaling question – on a scale of 1-10, how important is achieving this resolution to you? If the answer is 7 or lower, it is a good indicator that the resolution needs to be at the very least redefined until it feels like an 8 or higher.

  1. What do you believe you need to address or resolve in order to achieve this resolution?

This is a great place to brainstorm some of the possible stumbling  blocks. They can be remote, but possible stumbling blocks and under each stumbling block – develop a contingency plan, a tool may you use to avoid it or perhaps  you need to reframe your resolution from the beginning to avoid the stumbling block all together? Sometimes the stumbling blocks will spur on additional resolutions that may need to be addressed first.

And the final word of advice is to make sure the journey to complete the resolution is what you hope the resolution will feel like when it is achieved. You’ll find that often times the real benefit to the resolution is not the end, but the journey it takes to get there.

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