We all know it – resolutions are a joke! The problem is we decide on a night of champagne-filled glasses that we are finally going to do something to change our path. We give this whole process a few moments of thought and then feel frustrated come February 1 when we are nowhere closer to where we vowed to be. Maybe you are one of those people who after so many years of feeling that February frustration vow to never make a resolution again. Neither solution really gets you what you want.

This year, resolve to do what the most successful people do…create an annual action plan!

If you really want to move forward in 2013, you need to get clear on what you want, why, and how you are going to get there. Here are 4 easy steps to help you get moving!

  1. Get Clear On What Is Important To You – What do you value most? What excites you? What do you want to accomplish? When I ask people what they want, so many think of possessions – the car they’d like to drive or the house they’d like to live in, rather than the feeling they are trying to achieve or the legacy they want to leave. We all have a purpose and aspirations. You don’t have to be a Nobel Peace Prize winner to have lived a worthy life. Yet we should all be growing and pursuing what we love. Close your eyes and envision yourself one year, 5 years, and 10 years from now. Really take the time to see the vision. Make sure this is YOUR vision, not what you think others expect of you. Take a few moments to write down what you see yourself doing or feeling at each of these time frames. How is your vision different from where you are now? Write down notes about your vision. You can use the Action Plan worksheet I have created or just a blank piece of paper (post-it notes and napkins are not enough!).
  2. Decide What You Really Want – Take that vision and think of 1 to 3 goals (more than 3 goals makes you less productive) for how you can close the gap between your vision and your reality. You may also have roles in your life that don’t feel like goals, but that are important to your vision. For instance, connecting with your children or spouse. Take time to write these down too. It is also important to think about those things that replenish the soul. We need to have joy, fun, and creativity in our lives to restore our energy. Write down the things you need to incorporate in your life to make sure you have the energy you see having in your vision.
  3. Consider Why You Want The Goal – Now’s the time to check in. Once you think you know your goal(s), you need to ask yourself why you want it. How will you feel once you achieve it? So many times we think a particular goal will bring about a certain feeling and we are disheartened to find out that it doesn’t. Losing weight doesn’t mean you’ll be confident, gaining wealth doesn’t mean you’ll be happy, getting that promotion or a new job doesn’t mean you’ll feel worthy. Make sure that your goal is what you REALLY want. Take the time to think about what brings you joy, passion, or satisfaction and make any edits to your notes now.
  4. Determine How You Will Get There – This is where the rubber meets the road. Once you are clear on your goal(s), roles, and ways to replenish your soul, you need to create a clear action plan. I’ve heard it said that a goal without a plan is merely a wish. Don’t just hope or wish for a bright 2013, do the work to make it happen. Of course, there are many goals for which we don’t know all of the steps when we begin. What is important is that you have a plan and start moving towards what you desire. Write as many specific steps as you can to help you achieve the goal. Commit to a target date for each of the steps and write it on your plan. Think of any people who might be able to help you with each step or any resources you will need. Many people stop progress towards a goal with excuses such as pursuing the goal is too expensive. Yet, when asked, they have no idea how much it will cost!  I know its a lot of writing, but those who have clearly written goals and plans are much more likely to be successful in achieving their goals. After you complete your action plan, DO NOT (I repeat – DO NOT) file it away. Your plan needs to be prominently placed for you to see it on a daily or weekly basis. I will have another post on time management coming in January, but for now, know that you should be working towards your goals, roles, or replenish the soul items daily, or at least weekly. Increase your odds of success by telling everyone about your goals. You can enlist the help of an accountability partner – a friend who will hold you to your action plan, or hire a life coach. Always keep your goal visible and keep adding steps or revising goals along the way. Action plans are meant to be fluid.


Follow these four steps and you will be much further along than all of those who are setting traditional New Year’s resolutions right now. Feel free to share a comment on how this process worked for you and what your goals are for the New Year. Get into action!

 I wish for you the best year yet!

Need a little help getting started? Check out these thought-provoking questions at Simple Mom.

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