What to Do Before You Make New Year’s Resolutions

If you have never been able to keep a new year’s resolution, you’re not alone. In fact, new year’s resolutions are rarely sustainable for most people. In this blog post, I’ll tell you why that is and what you can do about it.

It all comes down to one important step, which I recommend that everyone do before setting resolutions for the new year. By adopting the following process, you can successfully set the tone for a great year.

Out with The Old, In With the New

One of the reasons why people make resolutions in the first place is to better themselves or their lives in some specific way. No matter what your goals are, a great way to begin prioritizing the parts of your life that matter most is to spend some time in deep reflection. Take the learnings that you received from this past year, whether positive or negative, and apply them to next year.

Set aside half an hour or so of alone time, with minimal distractions, and find a cozy place to sit down with your journal or laptop. Take a deep breath and relax your mind. As you contemplate the previous year of your life, prepare to let go of all of the bad things that happened and instead focus on taking only the positive stuff with you into the next year. The key to gaining the most from this practice is to actually feel the emotions conjured up by those positive experiences, and to hold onto them.

Keeping that in mind, thoroughly answer each of these questions in your journal.

Part 1: What happened last year?

Make a list of the most notable things that happened in each month. What were some of the key events over the last year? What happened that was great? What was challenging or tough?

This is a good way to take inventory from last year, and to revisit the experiences that taught you something. It will also help jog your memory for your most fulfilling moments, which can be a useful reminder for a gratitude practice.

Part 2: What did you love last year?

What were some of the events and experiences that you really enjoyed? Who were the people that you enjoyed spending time with the most? What about each experience felt rewarding or gratifying?

It’s important to capture these moments while we still have a clear image of them in our mind. Take a few minutes to write the memories down and let yourself feel the emotions associated with them.

Part 3: What was difficult last year?

Now recall some of the more difficult moments of last year, and consider what you learned from each. Although this step may not be as fun as the previous one, don’t skip it: By contemplating what you learned from each challenging experience, you are less likely to repeat the same mistakes again. You may also look for patterns or behaviors that you’d like to change as a result of those events.

Part 4: What do I want from the new year?

Based on the previous year, what do you want to change? This is the time to focus on a few specific goals that you want to achieve next year. Make sure to first put yourself in a positive state of mind so that you are setting goals from a positive place. Then begin writing down what you’d like to have/do/achieve going forward.

What’s Next?

Now that you have spent some time reflecting on the past year, you can head into the new year with a clean slate and clear mind—only taking along what still serves you (the lessons you’ve learned from last year’s successes and challenges), and leaving behind the rest.

In the next post, I will describe the difference between goals and resolutions, and why resolutions don’t work for most people.

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