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How to Write End-Of-Year Resolutions You'll Keep

New Years Resolutions written on a chalk board.

As an aspiring (or experienced) professional, you may be attracted to the idea of making a New Year’s resolution that helps you reach higher and shine brighter in the coming year. While some may scoff at resolutions as being cliche, when you get clear about what you want, you can be successful.

To help you craft a resolution you’ll stick with, we have a series of steps for you to follow: Define what you want, plan how to get there, and determine the goals you need to reach that spell “success.”

Define what you want

Get really specific about what success looks like to you. “I want to be a better leader” or “I plan to join an advisory board” is not enough. Vague resolutions tend to produce weak results, if any at all. Imagine shooting at a dartboard in the dark; without a destination point that you can see, your chance of success diminishes.

To tailor your possibilities and write a more thorough resolution, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to be known for in the coming year?
  • Which skills do I already have? Which do I need to work on?
  • What opportunities are a good match for me?
  • What training do I need to enhance my leadership/problem solving/conflict resolution/[insert need here]skills?
  • Which skills do I need to demonstrate to advance my career?

With the answers you collect, you will be much better equipped to craft a resolution that is specific, measurable, and outlines what you will be working towards in a clear, precise manner.

Discover how to get there

Declaring what you want is just a starting point. It won’t come to fruition without a plan (that actually gets implemented). Develop ideas for actions you can take to get to your resolution. To formulate them, ask yourself these questions:

  • How can I gain the skills I need to improve my skills?
  • What projects (at work or in a volunteer capacity) do I want to lead and are there opportunities available for me to do so?
  • Which events can I go to in order to enhance my skills?
  • How (and when) will I talk to my boss to discuss my candidacy for a promotion?

Other questions may pop up regarding your resolution. Your responses to all the questions will help clarify what you’ll need to do to achieve it. Next you will map out a plan of reachable goals to keep you on course and achieve your resolution.

Develop a plan by identifying reachable goals

Use the information you just outlined to plan reachable goals that help you stay on course. Sure, you’ve already defined your resolution, but don’t lose sight of the other goals you have to achieve along the way.

A great way to gain success in reaching a goal is to make sure it is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. “I will find a leadership role at an organization in a month” is not specific and may not be achievable. So create your list of plans in terms of SMART goals. Use these examples as models:

  • “I will approach three nonprofits about my interest in serving on their board this week.”
  • “I will create a portfolio and publish it online by March 1st. I will also add a new entry to it each month.”
  • “I will take a 10-week conflict resolution course in February and implement three new things in leading my staff in the first quarter.”

Be sure to indicate how each of these goals relate to your resolution, and what impact it will have in getting you there.

For example: “In 2015, I’d like to be promoted to VP of Community Affairs. In order to reach this position, I need more skills in conflict resolution. After completing the 10-week conflict resolution course and implementing what I learn in leading my staff, I will have more evidence of my candidacy for the VP of Community Affairs role.”

As your goals get moved to “achieved” status, you will have a real indicator of your progress.

Taking this approach, you’re likely to find yourself further along than you would be had you stopped your resolution statement at “I’m going to be a better leader this year.” Keep in mind that it’s okay if you need to tweak your plan and your goals, or define new goals as you make progress. It shows that you’re working your resolution and will get to it that much faster!

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By Victoria Crispo

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