Traditionally, the new year signals a slew of resolutions that we want to keep to make next year better than the last. But when you think about it, this doesn’t make much sense in terms of setting ourselves up for success.
The start of a new year is generally busy, stressful — and you may be feeling a little lazy, as you’re likely to be attending parties and enjoying some vacation time.
That doesn’t mean you can’t set goals and think about what you’d like to accomplish next year. But it does mean you need some action plans to back it up. Without plans and deadlines, goals and resolutions are just dreams.
Here are three ways to create an action plan for your New Year’s resolutions to set you up for success throughout 2016:
Choose a Big, Audacious Resolution — Then Set Mini-Goals
The trick to making resolutions and achieving them throughout the year is focus. Instead of setting 10 different resolutions, consider making this the year of one big resolution. Then set 5 smaller, bite-sized goals related to that.
For example, let’s say your big goal in 2016 is saving more money. 2016 could be the year of saving, which means your resolutions would focus on that and your smaller goals might include:
- Building your emergency fund
- Increasing your ability to save by reducing spending
- Starting a side job and putting your earnings from it to savings
These are all goals focused around your main resolution. As you achieve these goals, you’ll be working your way toward your overall goal of saving more money.
The best part about mini-goals is you can pursue them all throughout the year, and not become fixated on one specific thing. You can save up for your emergency fund, mini goal #1, while pursuing a raise, which will check off mini-goal #2. Both of these goals contribute to your main resolution, meaning every mini-goal you check off makes you feel even more motivated to achieve your big resolution.
Give Yourself a Timeline
Make sure to give each segment of your resolution a time you’ll complete it by. Deadlines keep you accountable throughout the year.
You may consider setting mini-goals in quarterly chunks throughout the year, or monthly if you’re feeling more ambitious.
Also, consider setting a check-in date with yourself to assess your progress. Evalute your progress monthly, quarterly, and at the 6 month mark. These check-ins will allow you to determine whether or not you’re on track or need to make adjustments.
Your resolution deadline could be December 2016, giving you all year to set mini-goals and deadlines associated with your big resolution. By giving yourself a timeline, you’re keeping yourself accountable and celebrating each month as you make (or surpass!) your mini-goals.
Put Your Resolution in Action
Once you’ve identified your big resolutions, created mini-goals to support your overall resolution, and set firm timelines for achieving each, it’s time to put your plan into action.
Using the savings resolution example, create a mini-goal (like starting an emergency fund), but don’t leave it at that. Write down exactly how you’re going to reach that mini-goal. Maybe you’ll cut out take-out coffee or instead of buying books, you’ll hit up the library — and use the surplus cash you’re not spending to fund your savings.
Perhaps every time you spend on a discretionary purchase, you’ll round up the total and deposit the change in a savings acccount. Or you’ll take 10% of the total and deposit that amount.
Make these steps actionable and specific. By writing down how and when you’re going to achieve your mini-goal, you’re creating an action plan with teeth.