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It's a brand new year!

It's a new year and many of us use this marker to set new personal and professional goals. Most people don't stick with new year's resolutions and there are a variety of reasons for that. So, how can you make this new year a new start for real change?

1. Make your goals attainable. Setting a goal that is realistic is going to be a lot more motivating to work towards than a pipe dream. Often we set such lofty goals that we don't even know where to begin. Start by adjusting your expectations so that your goal is something you might actually be able to accomplish (e.g. start working out twice a week instead of aiming for 5 days a week, if you're starting at zero, is probably more likely to pan out).

2. Make your goals measurable. It can be difficult to break our goals down into tangible steps, but establishing goals such as "eating healthier", "making more time for friends & family", or "improving my career" (Popular New Year's Resolutions) are pretty vague. Think about what you actually want to accomplish and break it down into steps. Starting with a small step is a great way to gain momentum and figure out how you can actually meet your goal. It can be helpful to spend some time defining your goals using the SMART goal system (How to Make Your Goals Achievable).

3. Make your goals meaningful. If you set out to "be a better employee" or "lose 30 pounds", just because you feel like you should chances are high you won't stick with it. Your investment in your goals does matter. Research show that the more enjoyment you gain from your accomplishments, how important you believe your goal to be, and your own self-efficacy (belief in your ability to accomplish you goal) are crucial in sticking with your goals (How to Keep New Year's Resolutions, Psychology Explains New Year's Resolutions). Design goals that are meaningful and be kind to yourself if you don't get it perfectly (even in the first month of the new year). Giving up certainly won't get you the end result, but forgiving yourself and trying again just may.

Set yourself up for a fantastic year by establishing goals you can actually meet and you may find yourself next New Year's Eve reflecting on real change.

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