As we ring in the new year I am sure many of us are thinking about what we want to accomplish in 2016. Whether you call them New Year’s resolutions, annual goals or objectives, we all have an item (or two or three) that we want to accomplish in the coming year. It might be related to your health (lose weight, run a marathon, join a gym), your career (find a new job, get that promotion or raise), your personal life (get married, start a family, buy a home, learn a new hobby, read a particular book, spend more time with family, volunteer your time for an organization that is meaningful to you), or it might be related to a bigger dream you have always had (travel, start your own business, learn another language, write a book, learn to play an instrument).  It might be the same thing you set out to do last year or it might be something entirely new.  But no matter what it is you hope to accomplish in 2016, you are not alone.

The notion of declaring a resolution at the start of a new year dates back at least as far as ancient Babylonia and Rome when people would make promises to various gods at the start of each year. In Medieval times knights would reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. And several religions have long standing traditions of making promises or setting goals at the beginning of each new year.  In more modern times the percent of people making yearly resolutions has steadily grown, according to studies done on the subject, but their success rates have actually declined.

I find it interesting that while more and more of us make resolutions each year so few of us succeed in following through with them. So we clearly start each new year with great intentions and a strong desire to achieve big things, but something goes awry at some point in the year. This all begs the question – what can we do differently this year so we can actualize our resolutions?

Up until 3 years ago I was among those of us who make up the statistics I just mentioned…I declared a goal or two for the coming year and within 3 months it was all but forgotten. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that I had not achieved the goal I set forth for myself (which is probably a blessing as I think that if I had been more aware of that fact I would have unnecessarily beaten myself up for failing in its achievement) – I just went through the motions…you know, I made a resolution and then continued about my life as usual. So year after year I set an intention for the new year and then let it fall by the wayside, just as the statistics say so many of us do.

But about 3 years ago I tried something different and it has made all the difference. I attended a workshop on intentional goal setting and planning and learned how to create a few meaningful goals from a place of true intention. The process took an afternoon of my time, but the results are well worth it.  Since I have begun using the process I learned in that workshop I have created AND achieved multiple goals each year.  I have accomplished more meaningful things in the past 3 years than I probably have in the previous 15-20 years.  The trick for me was in the intention of the goals and in setting myself up for success from the start.

I share this not because I think the process I learned is the solution for everyone – we all need different systems and processes…there is no one size fits all solution – but rather I share my experience to show that sometimes you just have to stop doing what you have always done in order to get some new and different results. You have probably heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results…it just doesn’t work that way. The only way to get different results is to do something different.  So this year consider a new approach to your new year’s resolutions.  Take some time to intentionally plan out what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you plan to do it.  No more shooting blindly into the dark.  No more going through the motions.  Create a plan of action.  Develop a support group.   Set time aside daily, weekly, and/or monthly to work toward your goals. In other words, set yourself up for success.  Don’t let 2016 be just another year of half-hearted resolutions you will forget about in a few weeks.  Make 2016 the year you start to successfully creating the life you have always dreamed of having for yourself!