Four steps to making a new years resolution list you’ll keep.

Having trouble coming up with your new years resolution list? Every year, many of us frantically try to live our lives out to the fullest on the last week of December. We drink too much, eat too much, and stop exercising. Is it because we want to have the best year ever? No! It’s because we are ready to create a poorly designed often, funny new years resolution list that sets us up for failure, deprivation and misery.

Part of the cycle of depression is setting goals that we don't keep, so our new years resolution list can be a bad beginning of 2011. Why do we do this every year? We want to live a life more consistent with what will give us happiness. It certainly makes sense to evaluate where we are going and what we are doing at the beginning of a new year. It’s a good thing to do, but most of us do it wrong.

Getting the goal setting right when you plan your new years resolution list is important because we get our self esteem from successfully meeting the goals we set. Really, our happiness depends on figuring out what we want out of life, and then acting in a way that is consistent with that.

A good new years resolution list must be carefully thought out and constructed around your values, framed in a positive way, and contain specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable goals.

Is Your New Years Resolution List Based on Your Most Deeply Held Values?

Goals need to be in line with your values or else they are the wrong goals. You would be surprised at how many people make this mistake. The best way to ensure value based goals, is to really explore what is important to you. Do an actual written exercise based around this activity.

Look at your life across all the categories. Family, recreation, emotional health, spirituality, physical health ,job satisfaction, etc. Create a statement about what you believe about each part of your life and what you want it to look like. For example, you may create a statement that says “I want a gratifying career where I am appreciated and my skills in writing are being utilized” or ” I want the opportunity to interact with many people and travel in my career so I can share my knowledge”.

Evaluate whether your life in each particular area consistent with your statement. Pick the areas where you are the least happy and get to work.

Create the Best New Years Resolution List. Motivate and Visualize!

Generate a list for yourself of all the positive things that will happen if you make that change, and what will happen if you don’t.

Then, set some time aside and imagine all the things that you want to happen. How much more wonderful will your life will be when you meet your goals? Why? Remind yourself of all the reasons you resolve to make this change.

Studies on the psychology of change tell us If we imagine a change is worth the effort, that the payoff is bigger than if we stay the same , than we will make it. If we imagine it’s easier to stay the same, that it’s too much of a hassle to do the work, than we won’t make the change. Visualize the change in a way that will motivate you!

Create the Best New Years Resolution List. Set your Goals.

When considering New Year's goals, ask yourself this question. Can a dead man reach this goal better than I can? If the answer is yes, then don't set that resolution or change the way your resolution is worded so that a dead man can’t reach this goal better than you. Any goal that forbids you from doing something all together is a dead man’s goal. For example, “I will no longer eat cookies” is a dead man’s goal. I will eat fruit in place of cookies after lunch each day is not.

Other tips on writing good resolutions so you can keep them. Write them in a clear, concise measurable way. In this way you can adjust your plan understand where where you are going wrong, and also see when you are making progress.

Ask yourself: Do I actually want to do this and why?

Do I know how to get here?

Can I measure whether I have achieved this?

Is it specific enough so I know exactly how and when I am working on it?

Do I have short, medium ,and long term goals?

Here is an example using the above formula. This year you set a resolution related to a career change. When you did the exercises above this was an area you realized was out of balance.

You may set a short term goal of looking on the internet or in the newspaper at jobs, learning how to write a better resume, or exploring what your true passion is. You might decided you would do this between 6-8 pm five days a week for three weeks. A medium goal would consist of something like applying for 10 new jobs, or taking some courses in business at the local college. You would also have a time frame attached to this. A long term goal could be to get a job doing what you love so you feel happy and satisfied in your career.

The sooner you start setting better resolutions, with clear and specific goals, based on what is important to you, the sooner you will reach them!

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Click here to read a great New York Times article on new years resolutions.

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