How to Set Awesome New Years Resolutions

December 6, 2009

New Years Resolutions Tips

Your New Year’s resolutions for 2010 may mean a little more than they have the previous years because you are setting the tone for the next decade of your life.  On New Year’s Day 2009 will be over, and along with it a whole decade of your life; makes you stop and think doesn’t it?

Even if you typically avoid New Year’s resolutions, this would be a good year to take an hour to look back on where you’ve been the last ten years of your life and how you want your life to be in ten years from now.

I got an email from Ken McCarthy this week about the power of planning.  He’s a guy who’s accomplished a lot in his life and has helped many others accomplish great things as well.  He doesn’t complicate the planning process; here are his three questions and comments on each:

What did you accomplish in the last decade?

Probably a lot more than you realize. It’s worth taking the time to write it down.


How many more decades do you have to play with?

I guarantee it’s a small number no matter what your age. We just don’t get that many.


What are your plans for the coming decade?

Is it even possible to think that far in advance? Some people do it. If not with a rigid timetable, they have a sense of where they are and where they want to be. It’s a good practice because it’s a good guide for how to spend your time now.

Of course, making new years resolutions is really the easy part, working at them and achieving them is where all the work lies.  However, setting your goals is just as important a step, without goals you won’t have anything to work towards.

The thing about New Years resolutions is that we typically wait until New Year’s Eve or the beginning of the following year to think about them.  I see two problems with this approach,

  1. You Rush Your Goals
  2. You’re Behind Before You Start

Setting Goals in a Hurry

There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate you to get things done.  There’s a lot to be said for actually getting off your butt and making something happen, setting your goals for example.  However, if you save your planning for the last day of the year (or even worse, the last hour of the last day) then you may not give yourself the full hour you need to think through what you really want.

Don’t take it from me; look at how successful businesses operate.  They don’t hurriedly make plans the last night of the year or the first week of January. Many of them start their year end budgeting and planning in October or November for the coming year.

Now this is obvious to me after studying project management in graduate school, but in order to accomplish your goals, you’ll also need a list of tasks to tackle so you can meet those goals.  If you create your new year’s resolutions before December 31st, then you’ll have time to sketch out the things you need to do in order to get what you want. 

If your new year’s resolutions are hastily scribbled on the back of a party napkin then chances are you won’t have a list of actionable steps to take.  Of course you can always define them later, which brings me to the next problem with delaying setting your new years goals.

Behind Before Your Start

The longer it takes you to set your goals, the farther behind you’ll be when you start to try and achieve them. How frustrating is it to start a race already behind?  Why put that hurdle in front of yourself when a little thought and planning now will get you rolling right out of the gate on January 1st?

People are always taking about starting with a clean slate, or getting a fresh start.  The first day or week of a new year (or a new decade) sounds like a pretty good fresh start to me. A lot of times reaching new goals means breaking or changing old habits.  You have societal momentum behind you if you start at the beginning of the new year.

People everywhere are trying to turn over a new leaf, to change their lives for the better.  What better time to buddy up with someone who has a common goal and go after it as a team? Why not ride that wave of shared energy and excitement to help you make it over the hump?

So schedule a time in the next few weeks to answer Ken’s three questions above and come up with your goals.  Then give it a day or two and start writing down specific things you’d need to do to reach your goals.  Put time and effort into deciding what you really want out the next decade and you’ll have an awesome set of New Years Resolutions!


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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16 Responses to How to Set Awesome New Years Resolutions

  • Tajemniczy Klient

    Accomplishments are simply great that I hope – “being” who we grow into is always a good idea but harder to review. I reason coming from Poland and living here, that I have become a way more appreciative of most factors – huge, modest and inconsequential. I try not to take any situation for granted.

  • Evolution Of Wealth

    I use 1,3 and 5 year goals. I think it is important to put your goals down on paper. So many people have great thoughts and dreams but just never let the materialize. The first step is to make them concrete by writing them down. Put them somewhere you see them. You never know they just might happen.

  • Ken

    I agree with starting goals early. Thanks for the 3 starting questions.


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