Make A Plan For the New Year

January 1st is a natural time to look at our lives and contemplate change. The new year is a 365-page book with blank pages, ready to be written.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common to give up on our resolutions before we have given them a chance to become habits. So how can we do things differently this year? Make a plan. (No, really…)

Many people resist planning, but figuring out HOW we are going to reach our goals is important – it’s like using a GPS to get us from Point A to Point B. Below are some tips that can help:

As we make our plan, it’s helpful to think about the meaning the change has for us because focus on that motivation that will assist us as we move toward our goals. For example, we might decide to increase our exercise because we recognize that we have more focus and energy when we do so. 

It’s useful to be realistic about our plan. We can have big goals, but we need to take small steps, especially at first. In that way, we set ourselves up for success, making it that much more likely that we will actually achieve realize our goals.

It’s also helpful to share our intentions with others – whether it is a loved one, a colleague, a support group or our Facebook friends. In that way, we have others who may join us in our goals and/or cheer us on.

As we are making our plan, it is also useful to anticipate the obstacles that we might face so we can figure out ways around them. If we know that it’s hard to exercise when we get home from work, for example, we can plan to do so at a different time of day – maybe during lunch or first thing in the morning. 

It’s also helpful to recognize that lapses are often part of the change process. Studies have shown that backtracking is a common part of the change process. If something doesn’t go as planned, we can learn from our missteps, tweak our plans and try again.

Lastly, we need to plan some rewards along the way to keep us going. As we move toward our goals, we are strengthening neural pathways, making it that much easier to sustain our effort and reach our goals.

So what plans do you have to make 2014 your best year ever?