Writing about new year’s resolutions feels a bit awkward. I’m pretty good at coming up with them, but could use some work when it comes to implementation. However, despite feeling a bit hypocritical as I write this, I’ll write the blog post anyway. My hope is that it will be valuable to at least a few people who read it.

List strengths and weaknesses.

Step one is preparing an outline of the categories that define a well-rounded person: intelligence/knowledge, social/emotional, physical/health, spiritual/philosophical. Next, for each category, make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. The list can be pretty small, a couple strengths and a couple weaknesses will suffice. (We are often inclined to focus only on our weakness, but focusing on strengths often provides more bang for the buck.)

Ask someone you trust.

Now that you have a small list for each category, to ensure you don’t have any major blind spots, ask a couple of people who are closest to you to help with the list. Make sure you ask someone who knows you well and is not afraid to be direct. It’s important to be open to their thoughts – if you feel defensive when you take this step, perhaps a good resolution is to be less defensive. 

Make realistic goals.

At this point, you have your categories and a few well-vetted strengths and weaknesses for each. The next step is to create the actual goals. I suggest using the SMART criteria. Stealing from Wikipedia, here’s how each criteria is defined:  

Specific: Who the participants are, and what the action or activity is.
Measurable: Quantity of change that is to be expected throughout the objective.
Achievable: The objective must be attainable with the amount of time and resources available.
Realistic: Create an objective that is reasonable to ensure achievement with the available time and resources.
Time-bound: Provide a timeline to outline when the objective will be achieved.

As you run through potential goals, and evaluate them based on the SMART criteria, a few resolutions will naturally emerge as the best ones. Run with these. Ideally, you have one per category, but if you’d like to skip one of the categories because you can’t come up with a great goal, or if you’d like to do a couple goals in a single category, that’s fine. The only rule is that you want to be really fired up about the goals you’ve selected. 

Memorialize your goals.

Finally, memorialize the goals. Put them in your calendar as a repeating event so that you’ll see them regularly. Tell your friends and family about them and ask them to help you stay accountable. Give yourself rewards as you meet specific milestones. Congratulate yourself as you are successful, and don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. But when you do, get back up and keep moving forward. 

Be persistent.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased.”

It’s truly a remarkable and amazing thing about life – that we can get better at things. And if we continue to do that, even if our progress is slow, we can make tremendous strides over a lifetime.

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