I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve left a trail of broken New Year’s Resolutions over the past few Januaries. But at the same time, there have also been a few that actually stuck around.
A regular fitness routine.
A real emergency fund.
A raise at work.
So what makes for the perfect resolution that you can actually stick to?
I’ve written before about how we should make sure our goals are reasonable, but the problem isn’t just having goals. Most of our resolutions are either something we think we should want but don’t or just too vague to make a plan to stick to.
So, here’s how to go about making those New Year’s Resolutions that don’t get forgotten days or weeks later.
Process-oriented. If you can’t enjoy the journey to the goal in some way, is it even worth it?
Both inward- and outward-facing. Some of your goals will have rewards only you will reap the benefits of. Others may have positive impacts on your loved ones or society. The best will do both.
Definable success. Maybe you want to become great at something. But what is great? Do you have to become the world’s most skilled practitioner to fulfill your goal? Lord, I hope not. That sounds stressful. Pick an achievable benchmark.
Here are 10 resolutions to make (and actually finish!) this year:
- Learn to make a signature dish. If you love to cook, so this is an easy goal to look forward to. It’s something that benefits yourself (who doesn’t love to eat) and your family or friends. Plus, it’s easy to know when you’ve hit your mark when you can make the meal without looking too much at a recipe.
- Complete PopSugar’s Reading Challenge. This one is ambitious, with 40 to 50 (depending on if you take the advanced challenge) books to be read in 52 weeks. It’s definitely more about the process than the end-goal, but I do really love the idea of making sure you read some books that your friends and family recommend. Easily defined success, too!
- Establish a monthly date night. We could have said here that a goal was to plan a beautiful wedding, or to “improve your relationship,” whatever that means. A regular date night is an easy way to measure success as you go, though. And maybe better in the long run for your marriage!
- Work fewer weekends and holidays than you did last year. I was in my lab Thanksgiving morning. I parked at work with my new (to me) wedding dress in the trunk. I skipped my favorite service projects because of experiments that ran for nearly a month straight. And I know I’m not the only one out there who put in way too many hours at the office for little reward. It will take careful planning and advocating for yourself at work, but it’s important to make sure you’re not sacrificing your life for your job this year.
- Buy Christmas presents early. You all know why. Start early and reap the rewards come December.
- Travel somewhere new. Not somewhere tropical, or to Europe, or for a full month (necessarily). Just somewhere you haven’t been before.
- Make a new friend. Maybe leave this one open to a little bit of interpretation. Whether it’s turning an acquaintance into something closer, reconnecting with an old friend, or meeting an entirely new one, forming a new connection can be a beautiful thing at any stage of life.
- Reduce distractions. This one may sound hard to make definable, but if you’re honest you already know what your biggest distractions are. And if you don’t, there are cool apps to help you figure it out.
- 5 Pull Ups. Or push ups. Or squats. Or unassisted steps. Pick a stretch goal for you physically. But most importantly, pick one where you’ll enjoy the process. I love doing arm workouts, so I would choose one that encourages me to work on that more.
- Say no more often. And say yes more often. Okay, this one is the most confusing, the least concrete, and the hardest to define the success of. In practice, just make sure that you’re remembering to say yes to the things you love and no to the things you don’t. It’ll help you keep the rest of those resolutions.