How to Make Sure Your New Year’s Resolutions Succeed

It’s that time again. The New Year is upon us and as we look back at all we set out to accomplish in the past 365 days we also look forward and begin creating resolutions and goals for the year ahead.

Unfortunately, very often our resolutions list looks very similar to last year’s. In fact, although I don’t know the exact statistics, it is likely the percentage of New Year’s resolutions that are actually achieved each year is unbearably low.

Yet, each January we try and try again to get our lives back on course in whatever direction we want to head. After enough failed resolutions, it could be enough to keep us from creating any new lists at all! However, in this post I want to challenge and encourage you to not only make your resolutions for 2011, but also discover ways to achieve your goals this year and for years to come.

Make a Realistic Resolution List

Whether you write them down or just make a conscious effort to change some things in your life, take some time to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. For this list, determine some realistic accomplishments you could pursue in the year ahead, and then underneath each list item make another list of the realistic steps it will take to get there.

For example, I would like to pursue my love for writing and performing music like I used to do when I was younger. I don’t have any desire for fame or riches from it–I just would like to write and sing in a coffee shop or something like that every now and then.

So, if that is something I am going to resolve to do this year, I have to ask myself what are the steps it will take to get there. I would probably start with scheduling a certain time on certain days that will be dedicated to writing music.

Next would be determining if I’d like to assemble a band or just go acoustic with my piano. If I decide to go with a band, then the next step would be assembling and practicing the group. After that, I would look at recording a simple demo in order to book venues, and that would be followed by actually getting some gigs lined up.

Once we break down our resolutions into realistic steps, it becomes much easier to begin expecting them to come to fruition. I can look at my desire to pursue my musical interests in a more promising light, and this motivates me to move beyond the list into actually taking the steps toward my goal.

Try it yourself. Start with one, and then move on into the list of realistic resolutions you will set out to achieve this year.

Make a Dare to Dream List

After you’ve finished your list of realistic goals, why not take it a step further and create a similar list of your dream goals? These are the things you don’t really consider becoming reality, but if you could have a wish or two you would love to see them happen. I have learned that when I stop considering something impossible or unrealistic, it often moves into the realm of possibilities and reality.

By making your Dare To Dream List you open the door to the potential of your dreams coming true, rather than watching them from a distance as they gather dust on a shelf. Be sure to follow the same format as your Realistic Resolutions List, providing steps that you could take toward reaching your dreams. Be prepared–you might actually see your dreams become reality.

Don’t Sweat the Calendar

In this third point lies the key to this whole post. The most important element to accomplishing this year’s and all of your future resolutions is to not give them an expiration date. If you need a due date in order to maintain your motivation on certain tasks, then by all means, go ahead and set them. However, I would highly recommend a reevaluation of the importance of setting a due date, and instead seek other incentives that will keep you moving forward. I have found that when I stop looking at the calendar for my start and end dates of my dreams and goals for my life, they no longer possess the unnecessary pressure of time and I am refreshingly free to make my way toward their success unfettered.

Think about it. Why do we choose the beginning of each year to evaluate our lives and set our course for the next 365 days? Why do we reach the end of the year and take stock on how far (or how little) we’ve come?

I suggest instead of letting our beginnings and endings be dictated by the calendar we should allow our lives to flow from day to day, year to year without a beginning or an ending to each one. Each day is full of potential and possibilities, and so is the next one. So why proclaim a success or failure based on which day it dwells in?

My recommendation is to let this be the last year-end resolution list you ever create. Instead, let your list be ongoing, adding to it as another goal or dream arises in your life, and checking off your accomplishments as they happen, whether within this year or the next. Stop sweating the calendar and letting it dictate the rises and falls of your existence. You will find that, if given the freedom to come to fruition within their own natural progression of events, your resolutions will become your successes and your dreams will become your reality.

Your Thoughts

So what now? Will you take my advice and move away from this year-end tradition and into a more organic and free-flowing approach to setting and achieving your goals?

Or, do you find my suggestions idealistic or impractical? Or maybe you have your own unique methodology that you would like to share.

Whatever your thoughts, please let them be heard in the comments below. Above all, I wish you much success in accomplishing your dreams that lie ahead, regardless of whatever approach you choose to embrace.

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