It’s only natural as we embark upon a new year to reflect on the previous year we have had and perhaps want to set goals for the year ahead. Some of the most common new year’s resolutions include: losing weight, quitting smoking, drinking less, learning a new skill, travelling more, saving more money, and spending more time with family and friends.

However, almost half of people do not achieve their new year’s resolutions. It is therefore worth thinking seriously about what you have already achieved and what your vision for your personal and professional life looks like in order to devise any goals.

Setting goals can be an on-going process, and it’s absolutely okay to adjust your goals or intentions as you go, depending upon what is happening in your life. For instance, if a death in the family arrives you may need to take some time out and goals may get moved back a little. Don’t beat yourself up when life’s curve balls come your way.

Here are some do’s and don’ts when trying to grow and move forward.

  1. You don’t need a whole New You this New Year; you are the same person on the 1st of January than you were in December. There can be magic in embracing more of who you already are rather than trying to change everything. As well as identifying some areas to develop, recognise those parts of you and the things you do that you are proud of; take time to look back and appreciate how far you have come as well as looking ahead.
  2. If you do decide to set resolutions, try not to link your whole success and self-esteem on achieving a single goal; you are bigger and better than one goal and have value just for being you, no matter what!
  3. Explore why you want the goal in the first place and how hard you are willing to work for it. Often a goal can be a red herring or the wrong way around “I’ll make friends when I have lost weight” might not actually be true, with others actions needed to help you expand your social circle. Don’t block your progress with an elusive goal.
  4. Do what is right for you so don’t get sucked into competing or feeling you have to do what others are up to. Any resolutions you make should be for you, and nobody else.
  5. Beware of jumping into all or nothing patterns, like giving up chocolate completely from 1st of January, or obliging yourself to write in a journal every single day without fail. Planning a series of incremental changes to be made over time in order to meet your goal is likely to be more successful. List your accomplishments and celebrate the small achievements as you go and avoid telling yourself it’s not enough. Small sustainable steps all add up.
  6. Write your goals down and set smaller goals that fit into short, medium and long term categories and make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  7. Remember new habits take time to develop, if you fail on one given day try to not shame yourself but hold yourself with self-compassion.
  8. Consider who you share your resolutions with. It can be beneficial to tell someone about your goal, someone who will support you and help keep you accountable. On the other hand you may wish to limit how much information you share with those who may sabotage your progress, even if well meaning.
  9. Identify what might get in the way of achieving your goals, and also what support or resources you might require to help you succeed. For example, if your goals are centred around being organised, using technology such as online calendars that can be shared across devices might prove useful.

Overall, persistence, consistency, and determination are required to achieve your goals, with “quick fixes” rarely working. Remind yourself of the end goal when you start to doubt progress or want to give up. And if you are struggling to “find a difference that makes the difference”, or just can’t seem to make progress, consider consulting an expert to help you devise realistic and beneficial goals, and help coach you in achieving those new year’s resolutions.