It’s that time again – a new year is upon us! For many, the beginning of a new year is something to celebrate and an opportunity for a fresh start. The thought of a new year brings a sense of excitement, and a chance for renewal and growth for the days ahead.

Most of us set off into the new year with resolutions and the best intentions to better ourselves over the next 365 days. However, in the real world, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes we lose sight of the things we know will lead to a happier and healthier life. So whether your resolutions are to make healthier choices or other personal development goals, here are some tips to ensure you make it to the finish line this year!

Use the SMART goal setting method:

  • Specific – Try to avoid setting vague goals. Specific goals help to make sure you achieve exactly what it is you set out to do.
  • Measurable – Instead of setting a goal like “volunteer more”, set a goal you can measure. For example, how many hours or days you plan to spend for volunteer efforts.
  • Achievable – Make sure you set a goal that is achievable. Yes, you want to set your goal a little outside your comfort zone and push yourself, but don’t set such a massive goal that the thought of it is overwhelming and you give up! If you are striving for one big goal, consider breaking it up into a few smaller goals to help stay motivated. Example: If your overall goal is to lose 50 lbs before 2018, set a monthly goal to lose a specific amount to keep yourself on track!
  • Realistic – Know your capabilities and your limits. Setting a realistic goal is similar to one that is achievable. Choose an outcome that you can control and that makes sense.
  • Time based – Set a deadline for the goals you want to accomplish. If your overall goal is a long term goal, set some “check-in” dates throughout to hold yourself accountable.

An example of a smart goal could be, “My goal is to triple the amount of money in my savings account and have $600 saved by December 31, 2017.” Assuming you have a plan to save this additional money, this goal is specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and time based. Smart goals ensure that your new year’s resolutions are attainable and give you the best chance for success.

Visualize your goal

Seeing is believing. Once you set your resolutions, write them down and place them in a visible area. Seeing the goals in a place you that you visit often, such as a refrigerator or on the wallpaper of your phone, allows you to keep it in your subconscious thoughts. Create a detailed, mental picture of yourself achieving the goal or resolution so you will be more inclined to work toward it.

Be prepared to change habits

Switching out the old, bad habits for new ones means that you can give yourself structure, routine, and room for improvement. Sometimes it takes a while before the changes are set in stone and you may face challenges along the way. To stick with the new habits, track your progress, overcome the roadblocks in your way, and reward yourself.

Surround yourself with people who support your goals

When going through a transformation, it is beneficial to have people around you that motivate and support you. Family, friends, nutritionists, personal trainers, teachers, and most professionals in any field may have been through similar experiences and can guide you through challenges that you endure. Let your support group know what your goals are so they can help keep you on track.

There are so many ways people can choose to better their lives this year; so whether your new year’s resolution is to get in shape, spend more time with family, or advance your career, we wish you the very best in your efforts. Just remember to stay positive! If you fall behind or feel like you’re failing, don’t get discouraged! Each and every day brings a new beginning and your next opportunity is right around the corner.

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

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