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2018 New Year Resolutions: How to improve your chances of success

November 20, 2017

Failing to plan is a plan to fail.  

-- Effie Jones, American Educator  


It is December!  Nearly the end of this year. The development of New Year resolutions consists of two steps:

Step One: Reflect and evaluate the status of your 2017 resolutions.  Why does it always nearly appear that not all your vowed planned activities/actions seem to have been done/accomplished/finished?

Step Two: Have you begun thinking of your 2018 resolutions? Whether you’ve already written them down or they’re still in development, you have every intention of making them.

If you don’t want to keep repeating this self-defeating cycle every year, you need a plan. It’s not that you will not try to succeed. Perhaps you have aleady taken some planning steps such as:

  • renewed your gym membership

  • sent away for travel info

  • downloaded a mediation/yoga app

  • reviewed some professional development courses

What can you do not only to initiate resolutions, but also to truly accept the responsibility to carry them out and fulfill your goals?

A New Year’s resolution is a commitment pledged to enhance or improve your personal and/or work life using January 1st as the benchmark start and December 31st as its end. How can you be successful in turning resolutions into realities? As a new year signifies new beginnings, it is considered to be the best time to for new intentions or renewals of oold ones with fresh or revised goals. New Year’s resolutions are a means to motivate us by creating practical and doable ways to make desired changes for a better and improved life.

How will you establish a way of keeping your resolutions in focus and yourself on target, so that by December 2018 you can unquestionably have a wonderful sense of accomplishment? The answer lies in the development of an action plan for each resolution made.  This is the, “What actual steps do I take to accomplish the goals set in my resolutions?”

Intentions to make changes are often not strong enough to commit to a behavior change. However, creating an action plan, that is, writing out a realistic “to do list” brings reality into the picture. You can actually imagine yourself in a particular modification, shift, or transformation mode. Additionally, a written document can be edited and changed as unexpected life events happen.

New Year resolutions and plans require keeping to a schedule with clerarly spelled out steps to be taken. Resolutions help you to identify and give shape to habits and behavior that you want to eliminate or remold. Resolutions vary from person to person and usher in lots of hope and a sincere desire for a better lifestyle. Two people can have the same goal, e.g. lose weight, but their plans for achievement can differ.

Accomplishing New Year resolutions calls for a passionate desire within oneself and a focused determination to make it really happen. People change with life events taking place, values and aspirations reforming. New Year resolutions can be viewed as opportunities to gauge our goals and alter them.  What has remained the same, what is no longer relevant, and what needs to be added?  Do you still want to accomplish or complete the goals still remaining from this year?  Can it still be done with the previous plans established or do you need to revise them?


Create Your Resolutions’ Action Plan

Turn your resolutions into plans:

  • Establish whether your goals are ones you want for yourself, or those others want for you

  • Be specific about each goal with a timeline

  • Outline the action steps you need to take

  • Describe why the goal is relevant and meaningful to you.

Turn your plans into reality:

  • Prioritize the benefits to be received

  • Set individual interim benchmark timelines of progress and success

  • Review results at the interim benchmarks and decide how satisfied you are with the results: what adjustments and revisions are needed?

Start with a to-do list – the details of your action plan. A well-prepared written list helps to execute your plan effectively and efficiently. By committing the details to paper or a computer file, they are retained longer and more accurately than if you tried to remember this information at a later date. This list provides a picture of what needs to be done, so you can determine the logic and priority of the steps you need to take.


Tips for Resolution Success:

Now, how can you improve your chances to carry out your action plans and achieve your desired goals?  One way is to alter your mindset and approaches towards putting your action plans into play.  Try some practices that are somewhat different from your usual ones – that you may even consider “out-of-the-box” thinking:

  • Open your mind to new ideas and information through the Internet, reading, social media, adult classes, etc. Never stop learning and nourish your brain.

  • Do not be afraid of trying a new way of strengthening motivation/intention to start and complete your plans of action. If you fail, it does not matter, it will still be a learning experience.  Real success always has an element of  risk.

  • Although you probably have other responsibilites towards others, take care not to put your plans and goals on back burners.  Develop a balance between your responisbilities to yourself and to others.

  • Take a step. It does not matter for which resolution, though it would be great if it was your 1st priority goal. Even if it is one small step, e.g. requesting an educational catalog, or talking to someone about traveling as a single person.  Starting by inching is good, eventually you will be leaping towards your goals.

  • Give yourself positive pep-talks. Mentally, negative messages to yourself are self-defeating behavior.  You do not need to build personal roadblocks. Create one or two mantras focused on affirmations of achievement and success.

  • Form a support group that can hold you accountable to making your resolutions a reality.  This group can request timeline status reports, provide encouragement when needed, and help you celebrate successes.

  • Give yourself credit and respect for establishing goals with written resolutions, and commitment to a detailed action plan for 2018.  

Retireees and New Year Resolutions: Additional Comments

Although the above information applies to this group of people, there are suggestion and ideas for specific resolutuons relevant to how they are going to change their way of life.   Two basic questions: “What do I really want to do while my physical and health situations still allow me to be adventurious?” and “How do I maintain a satisfying and successful “third chapter” of my life?”

Potential retirees of the next three years, take into consideration as you establish your 2018 New Year resolutions and plan of action, such factors as the following:

  • Review and list the differences between the present life stage and the life stage you will be transitioning into, e.g  routines, success, happiness, fulfillment definitions, day to day schedules. How will you adjust mindsets and attitudes for a successful transition?

  • Retirement, as a concept, is unstructured time, for you to decide how and where you will spend your time.  The dangers can be boredom, frustration, and losing your zest for life. Create scenarios for your ideal day, week, and month.  What do you have to do to prepare to turn these scenarios into realities?

  • Pay off as much debt as possible. Your financial status during the first yeat of retirement is not crystal clear and you want to have reserve funds available for the unexpected and unknown expenses that may pop up. Evaluate your present budget – what adjustments can be made to become nearly or entirely debt-free prior to your retirement date?

None of us can predict what the future holds, but with a belief of responsibility for your reactions and actions, and thus, “I can create my distinctive path to personal and professional fulfillment.” This new path begins with your New Year resolutions. Wishing you the very best for 2018!

Annabelle Reitman, Ed.D.
Career Management/Retirement Strategist & Author