Turn New Year’s Resolutions into Achievable Goals

According to Entrepreneur, only 9.2% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. That means that more than 90% of resolutions failed. That’s an astonishingly high number, but not a surprising one. For anyone who goes to the gym, we’ve all noticed the sudden uptick in attendance at the start of the new year … and how that attendance tends to die off by mid-February. Why is that? Why is it so difficult to keep our resolutions?

Death to Resolutions

Resolutions and goals are the same, but we often look at them differently. When it comes to making goals, we know that they need to be SMART. As tired as we may be of hearing about SMART goals, they work. Resolutions, however, tend to be cobbled together and half-thought-out. While they’re time-bound (finish by the new year), they’re rarely measurable and people tend to bite off more than they can chew. Habits are hard to break. Trying to tackle 10 resolutions in one year may not seem like much. After all, it’s less than one resolution per month. Changing habits for the long-term, however, takes time and focus.

Starting on the Right Foot

Before you make your resolutions this year, you need time to take stock of the past year. We’re often focused on the future, but we don’t pause to reflect before making new goals. In looking back, you might find that the resolutions you decide to make a change based on the answers to your general inventory. Ask yourself these questions twice: once in terms of personal growth, and once in terms of professional growth. As you review the questions below, answer honestly and completely.

General Inventory

  1. What’s a big mistake that I made this year, and what lesson did I learn as a result?
  2. What old habits would I like to release? What new habits would I like to cultivate?
  3. How have I allowed fear of failure to hold me back?
  4. What did I start and not complete?
  5. How did I break out of my comfort zone this year?
  6. What went better than I expected, and what went worse than expected?
  7. How do I want others to see me, and how do I want to see myself?
  8. What are three adjectives I’d use to describe this year, and what would I like them to be for the next year?
  9. When did I feel most inspired?
  10. What am I most grateful for?

Personal Growth

Your personal life is a combination of relationships, family, and your own development. It’s less cut-and-dry than your professional life, as you don’t have a midyear or annual review to discuss how well you maintained relationships and practiced self-care. Your personal life is significantly influenced by the people in your life and the pressures you place on yourself. Personal growth isn’t solely about weight loss or eating healthy, but about what you’re doing to be the best you that you can be. Have you ever written down the things you need to do to make yourself feel whole? To feel accomplished on any given day, some people need to do something active, have a morning coffee, eat well, write, or maybe connect with at least one person. What does a good day look like to you? What SMART goals can you make to improve your personal life in 2019?

Professional Growth

Looking back at your answers, is there a common theme? As you work off of the past to create new goals, think beyond the job you currently have and instead think about your career as a whole. Where do you hope to be in one, five, or 10 years? After looking at the past year, what do you think you can do in the next year to reach those goals?

In the short-term, we tend to overload ourselves with work that hinders us from reaching our goals. What’s one thing that you’d be willing to let go of in the coming year that will give you the time you need to reach your professional goals?

Kick Off the Year

The truth is, while we use the new year as a specific date to reset, we can reset anytime we want. To reach your goals, you’ll need to take inventory throughout the year. Write down your resolutions somewhere that you can look at them daily. Only work toward three goals at a time, and as you reach those goals, you can add more. Most importantly, remember that reaching your goals is a marathon, not a sprint. Give yourself a break and be proud of what you’ve accomplished along the way!


Madison Layman

Written by Madison Layman

A graduate of the College of William and Mary, my passion for writing began before I could read, with a nightly verbal diary dictation transcribed by my obliging parents. Since then, my word count has hit the millions and won't stop growing anytime soon. When I'm not writing or reading, you can find me binge-watching tv shows, baking elaborate desserts, and memorizing pop culture facts.