Reflections, Not Resolutions!

Start your new year off on the right foot. Ask yourself these three questions.

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Yulia Reznikov/ Getty Images
Yulia Reznikov/ Getty Images

Resolutions—bah humbug! It drives me crazy that people insist on making New Year’s resolutions on January 1 after one of the most exhausting and busy times of the year. Bad timing is just one of the reasons research shows that 80% of New Year’s resolutions will not come to fruition.

Instead, make January a time for reflection before you set your goals for the new year. I suggest focusing on three questions for the month of January.

  1. What went well in 2018? Start the year by focusing on what went well and celebrating the good in your life! What are the career and personal accomplishments you feel good about? Be sure to include the ‘small’ accomplishments too—something as simple as cleaning out the garage may have made you feel less encumbered and given you more time to spend on activities you enjoy.
  2. What did you learn? Was there a situation, project, or relationship that taught you something? Acknowledging what you learned—whether positive or negative—helps you apply those insights to the future. It may also make you realize it’s time for an important decision or change.
  3. What would you have done differently? Were there actions you wished you’d taken or not taken? As with the first question, don’t dismiss what seems inconsequential, like wishing you had taken all your vacation days! This question will prepare you for creating 2019 goals that can really make an impact on your success and happiness.

To make the most of this reflection:

  • Schedule it. Whether you take an hour every weekend or set aside an afternoon at your favorite coffee shop, schedule time for reflection.
  • Write it. Writing helps us process our thoughts. I prefer a journal or notebook, but use your tablet or computer if that’s what works for you.

To increase the positive impact of your 2019 goals, a suggestion I make to my clients is to align their goals with their responses to the three questions: what went well, what you learned, or what you would do differently. For example, one of my clients moved into a more visible position in her organization and realized that she wanted to be more comfortable with public speaking. Her goal was to join Toastmasters International.

Take January to reflect on the year past, then set your goals for 2019. I plan to have my goals done by Valentine’s Day as my gift to myself. Remember that life is short, so take time to reflect, recharge, and figure out how you want your year to go!

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