Who doesn’t want to believe they can become an even better version of themselves? At the stroke of midnight on December 31st suddenly 2018 will be a thing of the past and 2019 will be the shiny new future. Yet while hundreds of thousands of people make New Year’s resolutions every year, few achieve them. Today I am going to teach you the secret to writing New Year’s resolutions you can ACTUALLY achieve so you can start living your best life, today.
The secret to writing New Year’s resolutions
I may be a blogger now, but I earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. One of the most pervasively important lessons we had hammered into our skulls was the necessity to write goals that are measurable.
If your goals aren’t measurable, you can’t determine if your client is meeting them, or even making progress towards them. Which is bad for the client, bad for you, and bad for getting insurance approval to cover their therapy.
But, how does this relate to New Year’s resolutions?
According to data from Statistic Brain, of the 45% of Americans who regularly make New Year’s resolutions, only a piddly 8% are actually successful in achieving those resolutions!
More importantly, they note:
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals…”.
The secret to making New Year’s Resolutions and actually keeping them is to make explicit resolutions. But what does an explicit resolution look like?
Before I teach you the secret to writing explicit New Year’s resolutions, let’s first examine the most common New Year’s resolutions.
List of the most common New Year’s resolutions
According to this fascinating infographic by Statista, the most common New Year’s resolutions for 2018 were:
- Save money
- Lose weight or get in shape
- Have more sex
- Travel more
- Read more books
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Buy a house
- Quit smoking
- Find love
Lofty goals indeed. Take note that these resolutions all list the final goal; none of them mention the steps they are going to take to achieve that goal. Fine for an infographic, not so fine if you actually want to meet your goals.
Simply making the resolution to “save money” is not enough. In order to meet a specific goal, you need to focus on the exact behaviors you need to modify in order to achieve that goal.
Saving money is too nebulous a goal, too easy to disregard in the long-run. The goal of saving money tells you nothing about the steps you are going to take.
Now I am going to teach you how to write explicit goals that spell out the steps to achieving each and every one of your resolutions.
Is it going to be easy? NO WAY!
(I often told my speech therapy clients that if the modifications we were making didn’t feel slightly weird or uncomfortable, they probably weren’t pushing enough.)
That applies to everyone, from second graders trying to learn how to say their r-words properly to resolution makers who are trying to change their lives.
(Make sure you stick around for your free printable at the bottom of this post!)
How to write New Year’s resolutions you can meet
Once I share the secret to writing explicit resolutions you are going to think it’s too simple. I want to reassure you that this method will work if you follow all the steps — and work towards meeting them.
There is power in simplicity.
The key to writing goals you can actually follow is this:
- Will do what
- Under what conditions
Let’s break it down.
First, the who is, well, YOU! Usually, that is; if you are a parent, you may find yourself making resolutions for your children. Business owners can also make resolutions for their company.
Second, will do what? What are the specific results you want to achieve? It is here you would list things like saving money goals, weight loss goals, travel goals, etc.
Finally, under what conditions? Is there a specific frequency or timeframe you want to achieve the goals in? Be sure and make this realistic so you don’t discourage yourself.
Each goal can often be divided into sub-goals, which further enumerate the steps you need to take to meet your goals.
Here are examples of “major goals” you could write for some of the top New Year’s resolutions:
- I will save $5,000 in 2019
- I will lose 10 pounds in three months
- I will read a new book every month
Now let’s talk about how to write the sub-goals that will help you meet your major goals.
How to write sub-goals
Sub-goals are going to dive into the specific steps that you need to take in order to meet your major goals. Often this means doing some research and/or changing behavior.
Here are some examples of sub-goals.
Major goal: I will save $5,000 in 2019
- I will identify all monthly expenses using a budgeting tracker or spreadsheet (get a free expense tracker here)
- I will keep our grocery budget under $XXX every month (see the 12-step method that helps me save money on groceries — without coupons!)
- I will keep a detailed budget (by hand OR by using an app) which I will update daily to track expenses.
- I will put $100 in my savings account each week and will not touch that money AT ALL in 2019. (That number will actually get you slightly above $5,000 to $5,200.)
Major goal: I will lose 10 pounds in three months
- I will perform cardio/strength exercise 3 times per week for AT LEAST 30 minutes each time
- I will go to sleep before 10 pm every night to stay well rested.
- I will drink 64 oz of water every day.
- I will eat 3 meals per day with one snack keeping my total calorie intake under ____.
(Notice that I added an additional quantifier of AT LEAST as well as the number AND duration of the exercise.)
Diet and exercise goals can be a little tricky; some people love the Keto Diet and others swear by Weight Watchers. If you want to make losing weight a goal, you may need to do some exploration of methods that best suit your lifestyle, goals, and preferences.
In general, all methods should address diet and exercise.
Major goal: I will read a new book every month
- I will research books to read via recommendation sites or Best Seller’s list to help identify books to read on a weekly basis.
- I will purchase a new book to read and finish reading it within one month.
- I will read for at least 15 minutes each day, instead of looking at my phone or computer.
- I will not start a new book until I have finished reading the last one.
Final thoughts plus a free printable
I hope that you found this post on how to make New Year’s resolutions and actually meet them helpful! If you have any questions or feedback on certain goals feel free to leave me a comment in the comment section below.
But wait! Don’t leave without your free printable.
That’s right, in order to help you achieve all your goals I created this free New Year’s resolutions goals sheet to help you organize your thoughts, put it all down in writing, and empower you to hold yourself accountable.
You can fit four major goals and sub-goals on one sheet. Feel free to print more than one. However, don’t spread yourself too thin; you may find it beneficial to really narrow your focus and hone in on a few goals that are really important to you!
Click this link to get your free printable goal sheet today!
Now you are on your way to writing some great goals and changing your life for the better!
Don’t think this writing method applies to New Year’s resolutions only! Anytime you want to set a goal for yourself, be it personal, your business, whatever, it helps to write the goal out in measurable terms.
Now get out there and start reaching for the stars!