New Year's resolutions: casually scrawling a few won't change your life

As you approach the New Year, you join with millions of others in seeking to find ways to improve yourself in the coming year. Formulating meaningful resolutions that you can actually use to change your life can be a challenge.

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  • As you approach the New Year, you join with millions of others in seeking to find ways to improve yourself in the coming year. Formulating meaningful resolutions that you can actually use to change your life can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you organize your thoughts and convert vague ideas into goals that you can achieve.

  • Brainstorm

  • Start by writing down some ideas and words related to those aspects of your life that you — or others — might think could be improved. Consider these thought questions to help you start:

  • What about myself would I most like to change?

  • What problems I had this year could have been avoided if I had made other choices?

  • What habits or addictions do I have that I wish I could overcome?

  • What one change would make the biggest difference in my life?

  • Gather

  • Take all of the words, responses and ideas from your lists and begin simply to clarify each one into a specific clear thought. For instance, if you wrote down “smoking” you may want to put “quit smoking” on a sheet of paper.

  • Organize

  • Using a word processor, you can easily cut, paste and edit the phrases. Group the phrases into any logical order that makes sense to you. You might list “lose weight” and “drink less” under the heading of “Health” for instance.

  • Prioritize

  • Take your organized list and look at it. You may have some things of varying importance on the list. You might feel that “improve my relationship with my spouse” is a vital part of making the future better than the past. On the other hand, you may see “keep my car clean” as a lower priority. Only you can make the assessment, but do your best to put the list in order of priority or at least group the list into high, regular and low groups.

  • Choose

  • Choose three to five of the highest priority ideas. If you choose more, you are likely to achieve none. If you have one goal that you see as being extremely difficult and vitally important, it wouldn’t be crazy to choose just that one. If you only do one thing this year but it is the right thing, it could be a great year.

  • Define

  • Now that you have your final list of goals, you are ready to really get to work. Make your goal measurable. Rather than just say, “quit smoking” write “quit smoking by St. Patrick’s Day” or some other date. Rather than simply wish to “lose weight” pick a specific amount, “lose one pound per week until May 31 for a total of 20 pounds.”

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  • Plan

  • While your good intentions are at their strongest, write down the plan for how you’ll achieve your goal. For a weight loss goal, you may want to write down the diet plan you’ll follow. If you don’t know, give yourself a deadline for finding a diet plan. You may also want to add exercise to your plan for losing weight. Whatever your goal, write down the specific steps and actions that will be required for you to accomplish the goal.

  • Now you’re ready for the New Year!

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Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.

Website: http://www.yourmarkontheworld.com

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