With the New Year right around the corner, many of us are already plotting our resolutions.

But while there’s nothing wrong with making goals for the New Year, the fact is that resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep. This is because the act of setting resolutions is extremely easy, but keeping them requires a lot of work; more than we’re usually prepared to put in. As a result, our resolutions tend to fall by the wayside and before long; we’re back to our old habits.

If you’re looking to put your best foot forward this next year and start the year off as your best self, there is still hope! Setting resolutions for the New Year should be about big-picture thinking, and setting goals that are realistic, and in line with your overarching goals. In many ways, it’s not so much about changing who you are, but rather improving upon what you already have. It’s about doing some pruning and taking away—as well as adding in—in ways that will help you grow and succeed.

With this in mind let’s take a look at a few things that you can do to start this New Year off right.

Assess Your Previous Year

You don’t have to start from scratch to make your year count. Life is a gradual journey, and your resolutions should be too. Start by taking stock of your previous year—both your successes and disappointments. See what you have learned, how you have grown, and what areas of your life have had the greatest impact. Ask yourself what areas you’d like to improve, but take the time to recognize where you’ve come from.

In her article on LifeHack, Lori Thayer recommends doing a yearly review, and asking the following questions:

  • What went well for me last year?
  • What accomplishments did I have?
  • How did I improve my life?
  • How did I improve my relationships?
  • What did I remove from my life that is now making me happier?
  • What do I wish I had taken more time for?

Keeping track of these questions and jotting your responses in a journal that you can refer back to will prove to be enlightening.

Be Honest With Yourself

One reason that resolutions are so hard to stick to is that they’re poorly aligned with our big picture goals. For example, your main goal for the year may be to start a new business, but if you fill up your schedule with resolutions that are in no way related to this goal, it’ll be hard for you to stick with them. Another issue is setting goals that are, quite simply, too much. Going to the gym every day for a whole year might sound like a good goal, but it’s one that would be largely unrealistic for most people. Instead of feeling defeated because you can’t do it all, it’s important to recognize that scaling down your goals into doable steps can often offer more benefits than the loftier, but unrealistic ones. Choose goals that are in keeping with your big picture plans, and make commitments that are realistic—ones that will actually fit into your life.

Make Time for Yourself

Make it a goal to make time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be long; even half an hour a day can do wonders. Write it into your planner, and then guard that time. Having some time for yourself can help make a big impact on the rest of your lists and can help make for a better, happier you. Don’t feel guilty taking this time! When you take care of yourself, you can give more to those you care about as well.

Wrap Up Old Projects

As the year comes to a close, now is a great time to take stock of all the projects you have acquired over the year. Holding onto them with hopes that “one day” you will finish them all is only going to bring you down. Give yourself the freedom to start fresh in the New Year. Complete your old projects or save the really important ones, and then get rid of the rest. Starting the year fresh without an old to-do list looming overhead will be tremendously freeing.

Discover What It is That You Want

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Try to have an honest assessment of what it is that you want. Many people simply say, “more money” or “more time”—but challenge yourself to go beyond that. What would you do with more money or more time? How would you spend your days? Often what we think is the answer, such as more money, is simply masking the fact that we feel frustrated and incomplete, and are looking for something more. Not sure where to start? Have a look at our intentional living worksheet.

Remember, you don’t have to have a page full of resolutions in order to start the New Year out right. Being honest with yourself and making strategic changes, ones that are in line with your big picture goals, will help you to lead a more fulfilled life.

Remember, it’s not so much the size of the steps that you take, but whether you’re taking them in the right direction.

Are you looking to get your New Year off to the best start possible? Share the changes you plan to make below!

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