I’m going to say something provocative: I love New Year’s. Especially New Year’s Day. There are still very few emails coming in, we’re on the other side of holiday busy-ness, and the stores are closed. It’s a perfect day for a long walk, and some inner reflection.

And resolution setting? 

As a long-time business executive and now leadership coach, setting and achieving goals is my thing. I love a good goal, and I love to celebrate the achievement of goals. A New Year’s resolution is simply a goal declared on a specific day. I’m all for it. But here’s the thing: declaring the goal, the resolution, is the easy part.

It will take you less than a few minutes to jot down your greatest desires for yourself. Maybe this year is the year you want to start a business, or get in the best shape of your life, or start/end a relationship, or finally quit that job, or build that savings account, or finally organize the house.  

It’s such an alluring thought, isn’t it? That simply by declaring that thing we can flip a switch from December 31 to January 1 and make it so. It’s the fun, inspiring, exciting, sexy part of change. You can write this list in your best penmanship and place it somewhere visible; get fancy and add stickers or quote cards. 

Writing a New Year resolution on a journal page

The good news? That resolution or goal is possible. 

The bad news? There’s a reason you haven’t achieved it up to this point. There are likely a number of tough, uncomfortable, and hard choices, decisions and lifestyle habits that will need to change. It’s the unsexy implementation plan, the day-to-day lifestyle changes and decisions that make change so darn hard, and why you may end up disappointing yourself by January 31.  

If you’re serious about making a change this New Year, here are 2 questions you can ask yourself 

I suggest setting aside 30-60 minutes to journal the following questions:

1 – What, specifically, has held me back from making this change in the past? 

List anything and everything that gets in the way of you making this change (even if it seems like a silly or small thing). List everything.  

2 –  Who do I need to be to make this change in my life? 

You are the backbone of your goal, and you are the one who needs to make the change…so, who do you need to be or become to make the change you desire? For example, if you want to start your own business, you may need to become someone who is comfortable with measured or calculated risk. Think about the attributes of someone who has already achieved what it is you are wanting to achieve. What attributes, skills, or mindset might you need to cultivate? (Note: if you want to read more on this, I highly recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear). 

These are big questions to answer – especially if your goal is something significant. Undoing years – or a lifetime – of a particular habit, pattern or lifestyle is tough, uncomfortable work. I don’t say this to scare you – I say it so that you cut yourself some slack if by day 15 you’re ready to abandon your goal. 

What can help you stick to your resolution? 

Small, incremental, do-able steps that you re-visit regularly. I know, it’s not as sexy as fast-action promises and plans but…it works. Take a look at your answers to the questions above and ask yourself:  

What might continue to hold you back? How can you address those challenges and setbacks? Be specific. 

What attributes, skills or mindset do you need to cultivate? If your goal is health-related, perhaps you want to become someone who is more energized; or to be someone who is more health-conscious. Circle the ones that resonate most with you. 

Consider what you’ve circled. Now consider: how can you start moving in that direction? Start small. For example, if you want to become someone who is more health-conscious, perhaps you start with healthier snacks on hand. List a series of small steps, and identify the one that is simplest for you to implement today. Start there. 

Finally, set a reminder at the end of every month to come back and check in on your resolution.

Every month, revisit what you circled, and consider the next small step that will move you closer to your goal. It’s these small, incremental steps that create lasting behaviour change. Follow these steps every month for the next 12 months, and I look forward to hearing who you’ve become by December 31, 2022.

Questions or thoughts? Or maybe you want to declare your goal, and who you are becoming. If so, Share in the comments below! 

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