How to Set Goals for the New Year 

Let’s kick off the new year with some tips on the most popular discussion item this time of year: resolutions. 

Here’s my big, earth-shaking tip on setting New Year’s resolutions: don’t! 

That’s right, don’t bother! Some recent studies suggest that only about 8% of Americans keep their resolutions, and 80% or more are forgotten by February! The problem with resolutions is that they require a lot more behavioral and habit change than just proclaiming to the world that you’re going to lose ten pounds (plus that holiday weight…). 

With that inspiring data in mind, let’s look at some other options that are likely to be more fruitful. 


Set a Theme 

One of my favorite things to do at the start of a new year is to look back over the previous year and summarize it in one word or short phrase. Then, I choose one word or short phrase that I want to be my dominant, guiding philosophy for the coming year. Technically, if you did this last year, you don’t really need to do step one. This theme is a lot easier to remember, internalize, and call to mind when you need it as a decision-making guide. Just be careful about choosing patience as your theme (speaking from personal experience here) unless you really want the universe to make you be patient!

Adopt Outcome-Based Thinking 

I’m all about proactive thinking and planning, so it should come as no surprise that I’d recommend as an overall lifestyle habit shifting your focus to outcome-based thinking. Instead of having one overall resolution (or set), strive to enter each day, meeting, event, discussion, etc., by beginning with your desired outcome in mind. See how this changes those interactions for the better. If you want a “new year” version of this, specifically, consider identifying 3-5 simple wins that you’d like to be true at the end of 2022. 

Consider Your Time 

Our time is our most precious and valuable resource. We could all use and guard it better, so consider this question: what brings you the most joy and how are you going to devote more time to it this year? This simple question can give you an overarching goal for the year that you can continuously come back to and reset without having to beat yourself up for eating a cookie. And if you want to spend more time eating cookies, even better! 


One way to improve all kinds of personal things is to engage in service to others. Consider who, where, and how you want to love and serve during the coming year and set those as a guiding set of decision-making criteria for your activities. 


There are many, many other similar questions you can ask or approaches you can take to planning for the new year. The one common thread in all of these, and the most important advice I can give, is give yourself something as a focus that is simple enough to remember, call up when you need it, and get back on the horse when you fall off (when, not if). We all need to give ourselves more grace…we’re doing our best…and giving yourself something new to beat yourself up about is not the best way to start off the new year. Keep it simple and have a great start to 2022! 


Oh, and one more time, be careful with the patience thing… 😉 


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Craig A. Escamilla
Craig A. Escamilla
Craig Escamilla helps you find solutions before problems exist. With fifteen years of consulting, teaching, and senior management experience, Craig brings a wealth of practical expertise to helping others work on rather than in their businesses.

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