I love resolutions. I love New Year’s resolutions in particular as people seem to approach them with a positive attitude, planning to make their lives bigger and better for the next year. I have made New Year’s Resolutions for years now and on the whole I tend to be successful with sticking to them and most importantly I tend to have fun with my New Year’s Resolutions.

As a general rule, a New Year’s Resolution should be planned in a similar way to your objectives you come up with in your annual appraisal at work. In order for you to be able to follow-up in your next appraisal to establish your achievements, certain criteria should be met and the same applies to a New Year’s Resolution.
Your goal/objective/resoltion should be S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. Add Fun to the mix, and you have the perfect New Year’s Resolution. Also, think about the personal benefits too. If your resolution is to give up smoking, don’t just stop there. Your resolution should be what you do with the money you save from not smoking – spending money for a holiday, a spa treatment, a new outfit, that gorgeous designer handbag in Harvey Nichols… whatever floats your boat.

However, I do tend to agree with Aida Al Busaidy from HerSay when she said that she thinks that resolutions need to be made every day. I do agree with that. That is why I am often heard talking about Mid-Year Resolutions (check out my blog in June/July for more!) and that my resolution is something that I have to readdress and look at on a regular basis. It’s not something I start in January and forget about after 2 weeks.

My New Year’s Resolution is to try at least one thing new, different, unusual or challenging to me every month. Est. since 2004. I have had an absolute blast with the resolution over the years, so I’m keeping the same resolution again for 2009. This forces me to be thinking at least once a month about actively going out there and doing something and, of course, I’m going to pick things that are fun to do so that I want to stick to the resolution. So, it really becomes a monthly resolution, rather than a New Year’s Resolution, as it’s on a monthly basis that the resolution becomes specific and measurable. By the way, I’m always on the look-out for things to do, so suggestions are always welcome.

If New Year’s Resolutions are not your bag, but you still want to formalise some kind of ‘life plan’, then why not use a website like www.43things.com? On this website you can list up to 43 things you want to do and ‘tick them off’ when done. You can choose to have anywhere between 1 and 43 things that you want to do. It’s up to you. Here are some tips from the 43 Things website about creating your life list, and some of these things should be something to consider when planning a New Year’s Resolutions too…

  1. Make your list public. Making your goals public solidifies your commitment to them, holds you accountable, and helps you connect with others who share your interests. You’ll discover connections to social and professional networks that you didn’t know you had and gets lots of encouragement from the people who care most about you. So make sure to tell friends, family members, and coworkers about your list and post it on the Internet at 43Things.com.
  2. Include serious and fun goals. Vary the scope of your goals and include some wild just-for-fun dreams. Also, don’t be afraid to complete less daunting goals first. Building momentum from these early successes helps you find the courage to tackle larger tasks.
  3. Include undefined goals. Avoid overlooking a developing passion or interest by fearlessly adding goals even if you can’t totally articulate them. If you wake up one morning with the desire to create art, add it to the list. Let the idea simmer in your mind until something more specific emerges.
  4. Document progress. While reviewing the list, record your progress and determine the next steps. Documenting progress allows you to identify behavior patterns or other obstacles keeping you from accomplishing goals-it can also show you how far you’ve come.
  5. Make goals manageable but rewarding. Divide big goals into smaller tasks, but not so small that they become tedious. Taking incremental steps keeps you from getting overwhelmed by a monumental goal. For example, instead of vowing to "get organized" try listing "declutter the garage."
  6. Define the finish line. You’ll find it easier to complete certain tasks and track progress if you determine the duration, results, or final outcome you desire from achieving a specific goal. Revise vague goals such as "give back to my community" by specifying what kind of work you want to do. You may not be able to do this right away-as we said, undefined goals are good, too.
  7. Prioritize goals. Arrange your goals to reflect what you want to begin working on right away. You may want to run a marathon and get a promotion at work, but rather than trying to find the time and energy to run thirty miles a week and put in long hours at the office, focus on the goal that’s more important to you.
  8. Maintain a manageable list. Somewhere between twenty and forty-three is a sweet spot for many people. Limiting your life list to forty-three goals forces you to make some choices. Fewer than twenty goals doesn’t offer enough variety to keep you moving forward.
  9. Review your list weekly. It sharpens your focus, keeps up your momentum, and reminds you of what’s important. As you review the list, ask yourself, "What have I done to achieve a particular goal this week?" If the answer is "nothing," is this goal important enough to keep on your list?
  10. Revise and remove goals. A life list should be constantly evolving-it should reflect what’s important to you right now, not what mattered in the past. Remember, there’s no penalty for changing your mind or tweaking a goal to better reflect your desired outcome or new circumstances. A short-lived passion for making pottery can be reborn as "find a creative outlet," or ambitions to get straight A’s in chemistry can be tossed because sometimes a passing grade is enough of a victory.
  11. So, people, go forth into your brighter, better, inspired, challenging, adventurous, fun-packed future. But remember, not to get too hung up on the making of the plans and actually go out there and ‘Just Do It’.

    "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans" – John Lennon