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New Year’s Resolutions: How To Set Goals For The New Year You Can Actually Achieve

by Design Team 13 Nov 2021 0 Comments

Did you know that the majority of people call it quits on their New Year's resolutions by January 19th? Not even 3 weeks into the year and most of us have already thrown our New Year’s resolution list in the bin! Although this might be an alarming statistic, hope is not lost on our new year goals! Let's have a look at how to use our bullet journal to set ourselves up for success when it comes to our resolutions.

inspirational quote

New year, new me?

Hi team! Jess or JashiiCorrin from YouTube / Instagram here talking about how you can give yourself a fighting chance when it comes to crushing your resolutions, whenever it is you decide to set them. Personally, I love New Year's Everything; that "fresh slate" kind of feeling which gets us excited for all the possibilities that the year ahead is going to hold. Thinking about the things we're finally going to start doing, the things we're certainly going to stop doing, and all the ways that we're going to do that whole "new year, new me" thing.

believe in the power of new beginnings

Often though, the excitement wears off faster than we'd like. A stressful day at work makes us break our new diet. We miss a workout, and then another, and then another. Before we know it, we're back into our old habits, wondering why we thought this year was going to be "our year".

But it doesn't have to be that way! If repeating the same tactic of setting resolutions, going at them hard for a-week-and-a-bit, then promptly falling off with them isn't working, let's try something new. As they say, nothing changes if nothing changes, so how are we going to tackle our New Year's resolutions differently this time to make progress we can be proud of?

success is a string of failures


For the purposes of our resolution setting and planning, I used the equipment below which you may also find helpful. Remember you can use my affiliate code JASHIICORRIN10 for 10% your orders at Archer and Olive!


Printable checklist

free printable

In addition to the supplies above, make sure to check out the printable freebie which is a prompt list of the steps we’re going to be using today to brainstorm, select, and set your New Year’s resolutions. If you’d like to see how I complete these steps in my journal, check out the video below!


The 'what' - Brainstorming New Year's resolutions

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, it's probably best to figure out what our New Year's resolutions are going to be. For some people, these are easily identifiable, while if you're like me, you might want to spend a little bit longer considering what you actually want.

We'll start by brainstorming your possible resolutions. Let your imagination go here and consider all the possibilities for what you might want to work on and achieve in the next year. You can collect your ideas in a list, or my preference is to use a mind-map style that starts with the main areas of life. Not all areas may be relevant for you, but considering these can be helpful in uncovering your potential resolutions.

brain storm categories

As you complete your brainstorm, the questions listed below may help you to uncover some more resolution ideas. These ideas are ones that may not immediately come to mind, but that could still be worthy candidates for your attention.

  • What areas of your life need the most attention? What positive actions would improve these areas?
  • Where would the ideal you be in 5 years? What does 1 year of progress towards that look like?
  • What are the friction or pain points in your life currently? What resolutions could alleviate some of that stress?
  • What would the unhappiest version of you look like at the end of next year? What resolutions can we set to make sure that doesn't happen?
  • What's something you've always wanted to do or try? What resolutions could help you bring more of these experiences into your life?

complete brainstorm for resolution ideas

The 'why' - Selecting your New Year's resolutions

With your many ideas in hand, it's time to pick the ones that are going to be your focus for the year ahead. How you choose is up to you, but I do have some recommendations.

A good starting place is to consider the areas of your life that are most represented in your brainstorm. This can help you identify what "life categories" may most need your attention. Selecting resolutions to combat any discontentment you have is also very worthwhile.

Try not to pick too many resolutions for yourself. People have this interesting bias where we assume that the future version of ourselves isn't going to be "held back" by problems we currently face. Even if not consciously, a lot of us make choices that assume that our future selves have more time, better habits, aren't so easily distracted…

why behind resolution


The 'how' - Setting yourself up for success

You've selected your resolutions and now it's time to start planning how you're going to achieve them. This part consists of three main steps:

  1. Clearly define the resolution
  2. Make a plan
  3. Go do it

A clearly defined resolution

If you're as into goal setting as I am, you've likely heard of SMART goals. Although this seems to be a preferred goal setting framework, Chris Croft has me convinced that we can do better. Rather than SMART, Chris argues that our goals should be SPVEM (you can hear more about it in his video on the topic). Although the acronym isn't as sexy, I wholeheartedly believe it's a better framework for goal setting.

Breaking down SPVEM, we have:

  • S - Scary: be ambitious in your resolution and goal setting. Resolutions are there to help make us grow, and push us outside of our comfort zones. Your resolutions should scare you a little (not a lottle!)
  • P - Positive: our brains have a hard time imagining the absence of something. Frame your resolution in a positive way, for instance, rather than saying "eat less fast food", you could tweak this to be "make home-cooked dinners 5 times a week".
  • V - Visual: can you picture what working on and achieving this resolution looks like? The more we can envision the details of our success, the more likely we are to reach it.
  • E - Exciting: who wants to work on something boring? Essentially nobody, that's who. Making your resolutions fill you with excitement will make you much more likely to achieve them.
  • M - Measurable: having clearly defined metrics for success makes us much more likely to achieve our resolutions. In what ways will you measure progress with this resolution?

I encourage you to tweak your resolution to fit this framework. For example, rather than having a resolution of "get in shape", your resolution could be "reach a 9,000 step daily average each week".

SPVEM goals


Plan your work

When it comes to making a plan for your resolution, the aim is to break your goal down into tiny action steps. Small steps add up to big progress, so make sure the action steps you're outlining are small and achievable. For example, an action step of "declutter my kitchen" is quite large, and could be broken down into smaller action steps of:

  • Acquire cardboard boxes for donatable items
  • Collect all kitchen storage containers
  • Declutter kitchen storage containers
  • etc.

In your action plan, you also want to consider the daily, weekly, and monthly habits/tasks that will help you make the most progress. For example, a resolution around getting better sleep might have a daily habit of avoiding bright screens after 9pm and a weekly task of laundering your bedding.

slow progress is better than no progress cover page

As part of your resolution action planning, make sure you schedule in regular check-in points to evaluate the progress you're making. In particular, I'd encourage you to have check in points at:

  • The end of the first day (Jan 1)
  • The end of the third day (Jan 3)
  • The end of the first week (Jan 7)
  • Resolution D-day (Jan 19)
  • The end of the first month (Jan 31)

During these check-ins, you’ll consider the actions steps you’ve completed, those that are next to be completed, any challenges you’re facing, and possible ways around those. For now though, with action plan in hand, it’s time to really get started.


Work your plan

You know what you need to do, now you just have to go and do it. This step is honestly the most important one of all other steps, because if we don't do this one, we make no progress! Make sure you aren't letting yourself get held back by everlasting planning and research. Pick an action step, and let’s get to it!

action breeds action

Hopefully you’ve found this blog post helpful and are feeling ready to tackle your New Year’s resolutions! Don’t forget to grab your printable checklist and tag me, @jashiicorrin, and @archerandolive in your brainstorm and action plan posts over on Instagram. We can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned for the year ahead! 

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