As we near the end of 2023, many of us are looking ahead to what 2024 may hold. Whether you had a great year, or a year you couldn't wait to end, 2024 marks the start of new beginnings.
This time of year is also when you might hear people around you talking about what their new year's resolutions are. Maybe you roll your eyes when you listen to them set their resolutions because you know they'll give them up by the end of January. Maybe you jump in on the conversation to share your own resolutions.
Whatever the case may be, this post is designed to talk about setting realistic goals, how you can ensure you actually accomplish them in the new year, and some inspiration of potential resolutions you can set! By the time you finish reading, you'll have all the tools you need to set attainable resolutions for 2024.
Before we talk about how to set your resolutions and how to accomplish them, let's talk about why so many people fail to accomplish their resolutions every year.
A faculty member from The Fisher School of Business identified four reasons that hinder people from accomplishing their resolutions each year. It's important to know what might stop you from accomplishing your goals before setting them so you know what you'll be able to actually achieve in the new year.
The first reason that prevents people from fulfilling their goals is setting resolutions just to set them—not because they actually want to make a change. It's easy to feel pressured to come up with some kind of resolution when so many people around you are setting theirs. If you set a goal that you don't actually feel will make a positive change in your life, you're not going to have any motivation to accomplish it. Start with looking at your life and seeing what you might want to change and then decide if that's enough to set a resolution. If you can't think of anything, don't feel pressured to come up with something.
The second reason that prevents people from accomplishing their resolutions is letting obstacles discourage them from moving forward with their goals. We all know by now that life has a habit of getting in the way of things. Obstacles are going to present themselves, it's up to you to decide if you're going to push through them or yield to them. Something you can do when setting your goals is identifying potential obstacles that might arise throughout the year, and then coming up with an action plan for how you'll approach those obstacles.
The third reason that prevents people from meeting their goals is setting resolutions that aren't challenging enough. If you set a goal that you know you can accomplish without putting any effort into it, you're not going to have any motivation to actually try and finish it. Set a resolution that is challenging enough to give you motivation to complete it. After setting your challenging goal, come up with smaller milestones throughout the year that will help you accomplish your goal and will give you a reason to celebrate multiple times throughout the year.
The final reason that stops people from finishing their resolutions is a lack of accountability. You really need some kind of external force that is holding you accountable for achieving your goal. This could be a friend, an accountability group, a coach, or reminders you put in your calendar. Whatever you decide, having some form of accountability will increase your chances of achieving your goals.
Setting Your Resolutions
Now that you know what barriers there are to completing resolutions, let's talk about how you can be strategic when setting your goals for the year.
First and foremost, sit down and think about what you'd like your life to look like by the end of 2024. Do you want to be more creative, experience more things, see more of the world, or a different scenario? Maybe it's a combination of things. Do you have an image in your mind of what you want your life to be? If you do, now you can work backwards and think about what you need to do for the duration of the year to get to that point. That can be a great starting point for figuring out what goals will be meaningful to you.
Next, you want to be realistic and specific about what you can accomplish in a year. If you set a bunch of broad goals, you're likely to end up overwhelmed and will probably ditch those goals early. Set 2 or 3 specific resolutions that you think you can achieve by the end of 2024. You can always add additional goals throughout the year if you feel like you can take on more. If you need guidance on what a broad vs specific goal is, check out the two examples below:
- Broad Goal: I want to cook more meals at home in 2024.
- Specific Goal: I will commit to cooking a new recipe every week in 2024.
After deciding what your resolutions will be, start brainstorming potential obstacles that might prevent you from achieving those resolutions. In the example above, there might be some weeks that are busier than others and you don't have time to cook something brand new. Apply that line of thinking to your own resolutions to see what might come up and what you plan to do if those things do come up. Having an action plan for obstacles when you set your resolutions can decrease the likelihood that you'll ditch them.
You can also decide how you're going to hold yourself accountable throughout the year. If you decide to use a friend, ask them to check in on you every month to see how your progress is and to discuss what milestones you plan to achieve that month. If you decide to rely on yourself for accountability, consider setting a year-long plan with monthly milestones and then mark those milestones in your calendar. Then come up with a small reward when you accomplish your monthly goals.
Finally, stay flexible. It's okay to modify your resolutions into something that's more achievable. We all know that life happens and if one of those obstacles from above presents themselves, reassess what you'll actually be able to accomplish by the end of the year. What's most important is that you feel you made changes for the better and are overall happier with your life. If that means you need to change what your resolution is, that's okay! Be kind to yourself—it's not a failure if you make a slight change.
If you're struggling to come up with your own resolutions based on the process above, we have some popular resolutions below that can help spark your creativity. Remember, don't set a resolution just to set one, it's okay if you decide not to do resolutions this year.
Forbes conducted a poll a few months ago where they asked 1,000 US adults what their resolutions are going to be for 2024. The most common resolutions were related to fitness, finances, mental health, losing weight, and improving diet. Those categories can be a great starting off point for coming up with a more specific goal. If you decide you want to pursue a resolution related to fitness, you could set a specific goal of going on a 30-minute walk at least three times a week.
If those categories don't resonate with you, we have some ideas of our own that might speak to you! You could decide to focus your resolutions on what brings you joy—incorporate more of that into your life to end 2024 on a happier note. It might be a goal of yours to lean into your creative side more. Commit to learning a new crafty skill or do a creative writing exercise a couple times a week to end the year feeling inspired. Maybe you want to stick too something more simple and want to read more in 2024. Set a goal for how many books you'd like to read each month, join a book club, or even decide on a different genre for each month to broaden your reading lists.
There are plenty of resolutions to explore and places to start!
Cheers to a Productive Year
Hopefully, this post helped you determine what you want your resolutions to be. You got this! You can accomplish anything that you set your mind to.
Here's to a happy and healthy new year!