Millions of people make New Year’s resolutions each year, but it seems like only a handful of us actually follow through and achieve them. What can we do to finally make the cut and avoid being yet another statistic in 2012?

The Importance of Personal & Professional Development

Let’s not forget the reason for choosing a New Year’s Resolution. A resolution is any goal that is going to increase your happiness and/or quality of life. Whether you’re looking to find the right career path, get promoted within your existing job, reduce the stress in your life or maintain a healthy lifestyle, everyone’s goal is ultimately the same: to better develop yourself this year. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your goals!

Creating and achieving the perfect resolution for you is as easy as two-steps. Well, maybe a little more complex than that. The point here is that it’s doable. Continue reading to find out how.

Step 1: Choose the RIGHT resolution for you.

Pick a few, and narrow it down.

Start by thinking of important goals that affect the different aspects of your life: work, family, health, etc. Come up with 4 or 5 resolutions, and then begin to analyze each of them and narrow it down to 1 or 2 that matter most to you. Many times we don’t achieve our new year’s resolutions because we don’t really care too much about them. Make sure you choose goals that you’re passionate about. If you decide to have multiple resolutions, just make sure they do not conflict with each other.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Popular resolutions
Top 10 Resolutions

Be realistic.

Half the battle of achieving your goal is choosing the right resolution that is both challenging yet realistic. While you want to reward yourself for reaching a challenging goal, you also don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Don’t choose a resolution that is extremely time-consuming if you know you have to work overtime the next few months. Analyze your resolution and make sure it’s the best fit for you. And don’t be afraid to modify it, if necessary.

Be specific.

Although we may think we’re helping ourselves out by choosing a very general goal, we may be causing ourselves more harm than good! Having a specific goal in mind will help us stay motivated and make it easier for us to track progress. “I want to lose weight” is not specific enough, and can mean anything. Think of what you really want to accomplish and go for it, keeping our other tips in mind.

Why is this important?

Once you know what your goal is, create a list of reasons why the resolution is so important to you. Are you trying to stay healthy? Looking for a promotion at work? Determine why your resolution is so important to you, and write it down. Most importantly, DON’T lose your list. We’ll be using it again later.

Step 2: As Tim Gunn would say, “Make it work!”

Find the right resources.

First, you’ll need to arm yourself with a list of helpful resources. You may want to look for online courses designed to help you develop the skills you need to land the perfect job. Or, take an assessment to measure where your stress comes from. It could also be as easy as finding out the open enrollment period at your local gym or YMCA. Determining what steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goals is a great start.

Set realistic time frames.

Once you know what needs to be done, set up realistic time frames to complete the tasks. Keep your schedule, motivation level and any conflicting factors in mind. Remember, it’s more effective to take small, consistent steps than large, infrequent leaps.

Create mini-goals.

Nothing beats the feeling of success. So, give it to yourself all year long! Creating mini-goals will help you feel accomplished and also help you track your progress toward your larger goal. You can reward yourself when you’ve reached a goal or reassess your plan if you don’t. Either way, you’ll be more likely to remember, stick to and achieve your resolution.

Get support from those around you.

I highly recommend getting support from your friends, family and even co-workers, whether you choose to share your resolution with them or not! Getting support from those around you can be as simple as asking your co-workers for help on a project or your spouse to watch the kids while you run to the gym. If you choose to share your resolution with them, they may also feel privileged and go out of their way to help you. Remember, although it is your resolution, you can still work with others to achieve the goal together.

Stay motivated!

Although we will all stumble at some point throughout the next year, it doesn’t mean that we won’t achieve the end goal. Do your best to stay motivated. This includes revisiting your original list of reasons for choosing this resolution in the first place. It will help you remember exactly why you chose this goal and its value to you.

Whether your New Year’s resolution is of a personal or professional nature, follow the above steps to make it work for you. Here’s to 2012 – a new year with new opportunities to reach our goals.

Good luck!

What are your employees’ resolutions? Start talking.

This is the perfect time to find out what your employees’ professional development goals are for the year. Find out what excites them at work, what their interests are and where they see themselves going with any of our online or paper profiles.

I’d recommend starting with the Work Expectations profile. It generates a personalized report that gives you a detailed look at what your staff values in a workplace. It’s the perfect segue into a discussion on their 2012 goals and professional development plan!