How to have a Happy New YOU

Preparing for 2015 is exciting for many people as it offers a fresh start.  For others, the New Year is viewed as a reminder of what was not accomplished.  How can you ensure that you will have a Happy New YOU?

Making a New Year’s resolution can be one way to start out 2015 with a positive outlook.  At least 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions; however, according to a 2002 University of Scranton study, only 8% actually achieve their goals.  So is making a New Year’s resolution worth the angst of potentially breaking your resolution?

A New Year’s resolution is nothing more than setting a goal and developing an action plan.  So think about the effective steps of SMART goal setting if you decide a New Year’s resolution is right for you.

  • Specific – Keep your resolution simple, and avoid using vague notions of what you want to achieve. State your resolution in positive terms rather than negative statements.
  • Measurable – Identify realistic and achievable metrics to note your progress. Establish periodic milestones, and celebrate the successes along the way to keep yourself motivated.
  • Attainable – Set a reasonable bar regarding the change you would like to make. Challenge yourself, but this may not be the time to attempt a radical change.
  • Relevant – How will this resolution fit into your overall life plan? Is this a one-time accomplishment, or something that can be built upon?
  • Time-bound – Write down your resolution and tell a friend to help keep you accountable. Create a timeline based on your end goal and work backwards to develop your action plan.

While it can be fun to make and share New Year’s Resolutions, keep your perspective on the relevance of your resolution.  New challenges and competing priorities may shift your focus, so be flexible if other goals become more important than your resolution.  Failing to accomplish your resolution does not matter as much as what you learned from the experience.  Personal and professional goals help us grow to become the people we want to be.  To have a Happy New YOU, remember that self-improvement goals are important throughout the year – not just at the beginning.

Norcross, J. C., Mrykalo, M. S., & Blagys, M.D. (2002). Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 397-405.


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