This time of year, many of us start to look forward to the New Year and make resolutions for changes we want in our lives. Before you commit yourself to new goals for the upcoming year, take some time to reflect on the ups and downs of the year that is swiftly coming to a close. How far have you come and what’s left undone? Reviewing your experiences over the past year will help you set positive and lasting New Year’s resolutions for 2014.
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Ask yourself these 7 questions to learn from your experiences and help you develop future goals.
1. Did I accomplish what I wanted in the past year?
Dust off your New Year’s resolutions list from last year and jog your memory on the goals you had a year ago. Which changes happened as you planned and which didn’t? Taking this inventory is the jumping off point for creating a new list of constructive goals. Start the New Year off celebrating last year’s successes and reevaluating the unachieved goals. You may find that what’s left undone may no longer be important to you or that you’re better off breaking down an overarching goal into smaller pieces.
2. What did I do that helped me achieve my goals?
Jot down the actions and mindsets that helped you achieve what you set out to do. These are your tried-and-true tools you can count on as you reset your New Year’s resolutions. Knowing what works for your lifestyle and skill set is the heart of driving change in your life. Go back to the list of what works for you as the year progresses to remind yourself of past pathways to success.
3. What stopped me from doing what I planned?
It is important to clearly identify the obstacles that make accomplishing your goals more difficult. You will probably find some things are external pressures and some are rooted in your own behavior. Just as your list of what works for you is a tool, so is the list of what doesn’t. When you are aware of the obstacles that block your progress, you can begin to recognize them as they crop up. When the mental red flag goes off, turn to the list you make in the next step for ways to sidestep unproductive forces.
4. What could I have done differently to meet the goals that fell short?
This question is about brainstorming specific actions within your power to minimize the obstacles you listed in Step 3. Reflect on small steps you can do to help you overcome obstacles instead of trying to deconstruct a barrier all at once. For example, if procrastination is an obstacle, record small discreet tasks you can do a few times a week to help you keep up.
5. What are my most meaningful accomplishments over the past year?
Understanding what brings you true happiness is key to creating goals that also bring you enjoyment. Reflect on what gave you feelings of satisfaction last year. Did you do something that you were especially proud of? What is it about that event that impacted you? You may find that the most important experiences and changes over the last year weren’t on your resolution list. Be sure to add goals that are closest to your sense of achievement to next year’s resolutions.
6. What made me the most unsatisfied or distressed last year?
Identify the things that caused the most disappointment and disruption in your life. Are there things you can do to avoid repeating the same stressors next year? Perhaps you need to change a pattern, set a firmer boundary, or spend more time on the things that make you happy to offset situations you can’t change. Knowing what is taking away from your well-being will help you make helpful changes in the coming year.
7. Did I spend my energy on the things I value the most?
We all struggle with balancing our responsibilities and taking care of ourselves and our own future. Assess whether you are spending your time and effort on the things that matter the most to you. Do your resolutions align with your values?
Creating a meaningful fresh start to the New Year starts with taking stock of where you are, what drives you, and what your particular struggles are. Looking back at the past year can help you set aside arbitrary goals that don’t align with your motivation and set out to make lasting changes that improve your life throughout the coming year. Happy New Year!
What were your best accomplishments in the past year?