Reflecting versus Resolving

“An idea is just a dream until you write it down…then it’s a goal.”  
—anonymous

I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. They never seem to last past January, and they tend to make me feel like a failure. I prefer to conduct an informal, intimate, year end review, when I reflect on what this last year has been about for me in four different areas: Physical, personal, professional, and financial. I think about what I’ve accomplished, what I want to accomplish, and how my goals might be changing. There is something so inherently satisfying for me in writing my goals out, seeing them on paper, and having a record that I can refer back to. Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about how to write goals that are not a set up for disappointment. These are some of the tips I loyally adhere to:

Narrow it down
A long list of goals easily becomes an invitation to procrastinate. Keep your goals to three or four of the most important things you want to work on.

Use your words
Choose your words carefully—they will become your mantra over the next year. Use the phrasing of the goal to help you focus on the essence of what you want to accomplish. I love this quote from Chris Brogan, founder and CEO of Human Business Works, and a prolific author on the topics of social media, customer engagement and behavioral psychology. “Create three guiding words and use these as representations of three major focuses for the coming year. The concept is simple enough: think of three words that sum up what you want to change or work towards in the coming year… I chose Ask. Do. Share. It was easy, and yet, the effort of maintaining a focus on what I wanted from those three words gave me tons of success.”

Review constantly
Don’t just think of the New Year as the only time to envision the future. Review your goals every month—and adjust accordingly. Making reflection an ongoing process makes it easier to stay on task and feel like you are moving forward. Know that each day, week, or month presents us with an opportunity to start over and align ourselves with our chosen purpose.