Ready, Set, Goal!: 6 Ways to Approach Writing Your Resolutions

Last updated: April 16, 2024, at 11:07 a.m. PT

Originally published: January 3, 2017, at 9:58 a.m. PT

January is the perfect time to reflect on the previous year. What went well? What did you accomplish that you’re proud of? What setbacks did you encounter and how did you deal with them? With all of that in mind, it's time to look forward and think about what changes you’d like to see this upcoming year.

Making New Year’s resolutions are often written off as an arbitrary act or as something that brings feelings of negativity. Instead of avoiding making resolutions, let’s change the way we approach goal setting and the language we use to speak about them. Here are six ways to rethink your resolutions.

1. Shorten the List

A long list of to-dos can be daunting for anyone. Carefully consider what you want to prioritize. And make them specific! Because a short list of broad goals like “read more” or “be creative” can be just as paralyzing as a super long list. Try “read one book a month” or “take a pottery class” instead.

2. Throw in Some Easy Ones

Even on your daily to-do lists, writing down simple tasks like “get out of bed,” “take a shower,” or “check email” can give you the satisfaction of crossing things off your list, boost your confidence, and give you motivation to keep going. Add in a goal that is important to you, but is also easily attainable or one you’ve already gotten a head start on.

3. Re-Word Your Resolutions

The words we use have a huge impact on the way we internalize our thoughts and feelings. Small changes like “consume less sugar” instead of “cut out sugar” or “be active 3-4 times a week” rather than “get in shape” can make a big difference.

4. Micro is Manageable

Break each goal down into micro goals that may seem like they completely obscure the original goal, but will help you progress toward them without even realizing it. If your goal is to start writing in a journal, your list of micro goals might look something like this:

      Start Journaling

  • Buy a journal
  • Choose a journaling style (will it be stream of consciousness entries, a list of what you did that day or one thing that you’re grateful for?)
  • Decide how often and what time of day you will set aside to journal

5. Put Your Goals Out into the Universe

For goals that aren’t too personal and you feel comfortable sharing, tell people about them! If one of your goals is to work for X company, simply putting it out there to the people in your life in conversation could open up a surprising amount of doors. Someone you tell could have a contact that works there and put you in touch, or a friend could come across a job posting for a position at a similar company and forward it to you.

6. Be Kind to Yourself

Remember that your self-worth is not riding on whether you meet all or even any of your goals. Priorities change, things come up, you get somewhere and your goal posts change—X never marks the spot. Your best is enough.