Many people set themselves New Year’s resolutions for the year ahead but the statistics for how many people stick to these are shockingly low. One study suggested that most people will have abandoned their resolutions by January 19th. To help you increase the likelihood of sticking to yours and working towards a happier and more fulfilling year ahead, I am outlining here today a process that will help you set realistic and meaningful goals.

Reflection

Firstly, I think it’s helpful to reflect on the prior year. Consider as honestly as you can all aspects of your life including work, family, friends, hobbies and interests, health (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual), more intimate relationships, and any other category that is relevant to you. Consider what has gone well, what could be improved and also how much time you dedicated to this category. What changes would help you to feel happier?

You might also like to ask yourself the following questions about the prior year as this may give a different angle:

  • What are you most proud of, what went well and what did you improve in 2020?
  • What challenges did you overcome in 2020 and how you have grown and learnt from these?
  • How you have supported yourself and others this year?
  • What would you like to build on further in 2021 and what would bring you happiness or peace?
  • What makes you unique and what would you like your contribution to be in life in 2021 and beyond?

Try to be as honest as possible so that you can identify the changes that will make you happy. You might not know the answers to all of the questions but might like to continue coming back to them over the next few months. Identify some goals and intentions for 2021 across each of your key categories. Try to make them as specific and measurable as possible. You might also have some goals that you’re working towards over time and so breaking down these into smaller goals so that you are taking steps towards it is important. Also check that they are compatible with one another.

Add to this:

  • What experiences would you like to have? (Holidays, cultures, adventures, challenges et cetera)
  • What would you like to learn (skills, hobbies)/try out (big things as well as little things like a new recipe, walk et cetera)?
  • Which people would you like to reconnect with or invest more time with or maybe you would like to attract new people in your life?
  • What experiences would you like to have? (Holidays, cultures, adventures, challenges et cetera)
  • What would you like to learn (skills, hobbies)/try out (big things as well as little things like a new recipe, walk et cetera)?
  • What will bring more fun into your life?
  • What would bring more meaning, a sense of purpose or help you to feel better about yourself?
  • Is there anything you’d like to work on in yourself or heal from the past? E.g. let go or resolve something that might be holding you back
  • How could you improve your self-care?

Notice which questions provoke the greatest interest or challenge as that might indicate something important or a block that needs working on. Taking steps forward to build confidence, self-esteem, self-acceptance can make a huge difference to your success.

Identify Your Aims

Now for a different angle. You might like to do this on a different day in order to let go of the thoughts you already have. Identify the quality you would like most this year i.e. happiness, peace, balance, joy, love et cetera. Now do this meditation with the quality you would like to work with. Write down any insights and thoughts that arise after the meditation and in the days following.

Take a large piece of paper and write the quality you would like more of at the centre. So if you want more peace in your life, write down all the things in life that have brought you peace in the past, what’s stopping you from having peace now, what would bring you peace now. Identify all the options available to you. As you are focused on the quality rather than a specific outcome, it might open you up to alternatives that you hadn’t considered.

If you want to attract a new relationship, friend, hobby, career or something similar, it can be helpful to list the qualities that you want in that person or activity. Being specific about what would be healthy or happy for you might mean that somebody or something that you ordinarily would ignore, could be exactly what you are looking for. If you want to improve a relationship or career or something similar, identifying the qualities are important can help you focus on what can help improve the situation.

I found when I did this last year focused on the quality of balance that whilst each of my separate subcategories all made sense individually, that I needed to reduce the amount of work I intended to take on than I had originally planned. It would have brought imbalance to all of the other subcategories and ultimately myself.

Review

From your insights on qualities, review the goals that you have set and add or amend based on your insights from this meditation. Once you have set your goals and intentions and have clarity about the year ahead, here are some tips for keeping them going.

Regular Review

I think it’s also helpful to have a trusted friend that you can share your goals and intentions with. They can help challenge you further where you are limiting yourself, be there to support you when you need motivation to keep going, consider other possibilities and also to help you celebrate progress. It also increases the chance of success as you have someone to be accountable to as well as help you overcome difficulties. Whether you do with a friend or by yourself, have regular checks on how it’s going, break the goal down into actions per month or quarter, review options and problem solve any barriers.

Stay Focused

Keep focused on what you want and look for evidence of success. We tend to collect evidence that reinforces our beliefs so watch out for old patterns. Also work on any beliefs that might limit your change. Do you believe that you can change, that change is possible, that you deserve happiness? If there is anything that might get in the way, you might benefit from reading chapters 3 and 11 in my book.