Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
Every year the same standard resolutions tend to crop up—lead a healthier lifestyle, spend more time with family, live life to the fullest, spend less, save more. While these goals provide an overarching theme for the year ahead, there's one key issue: specificity.
A Harvard University paper explored what separates a successful goal from one that's likely to fail and found that the way you articulate your resolution has a big impact on whether you'll achieve it. It found that goals must be hyperspecific and focus on short-term rather than long-term. Yes, if your 2017 resolution is simply to "lead a healthier lifestyle," you might be undermining your chance of success before the New Year has even begun.
Another key takeaway? You must write down your goal. A Dominican University study found that people who put pen to paper accomplish significantly more than those who don't pen their resolution.
To put it to the test, we asked MyDomaine's editors to share their number one goal for 2017, and a mapped clear, specific, short-term path to achieve it. Here's how to write a New Year's resolution you'll actually achieve.
"I am finally going to learn how to meditate. Improving my mental health (which also means quashing my anxiety) is a top priority for me in the New Year."
First Step: Download a guided meditation app and schedule 10-minutes in your diary, as you would a meeting or appointment. Aim to meditate every Monday during January; then add one more day to your schedule each month until you reach your goal.
"My goal is to stop stressing, worrying, and focusing on things out of my control. I want to focus my efforts on things I can control, like my perception of events, my mood, and my happiness."
First Step: Keep a journal on your nightstand. Every time you find yourself worrying about a problem that's out of your control, write it down. For every concern, write a note about something that is in your control; then resolve to tackle one of these tasks each month.
"I want to train myself to be a better morning person by making my bedtime earlier and actually practicing sleep hacks. That way I'll be able to maintain a healthier routine."
First Step: Create a sleep schedule by penning the ideal amount of time you want to spend in bed, and when you'd need to end your day to achieve it. Invest in products that will help you achieve a deep sleep, like blackout blinds and a smart light, and check your progress at the end of each week.
"Say no more. There is a movement to say yes to everything—and that's great—but it doesn't take into account putting yourself first. As a people-pleaser, starting to say no will allow me to focus my energy on things that I value more."
First Step: Arm yourself with instructional reading material to learn how to phrase your "no" without causing offense, and write a list of the things you'd achieve if you had more time to yourself. At the end of each month, take a look at this list and see how many you've done.
"I'm carrying over one I had in 2016, which was to be bold in everything in life—to go after what I want career-wise, relationship-wise, etc. Just generally to not let fear of failure or making mistakes hold me back in any way. Especially living in New York when you have to be aggressive and make your dream life happen for you."
First Step: Surround yourself with notes or books that remind you of your mission. Then, write down the most ambitious goals you can think of and write timely subtasks against each to make yourself accountable.
"Moving to New York City, I'm finding it more difficult to keep up with the fitness activities I actually enjoy—running, tennis, golf. So this year, I want to find a new workout I can enjoy enough to do it regularly."
First step: Sign up to a varied workout service like ClassPass, and aim to try at least one new class each week. Mark it in your diary along with a note about how the class went, and after three months, look back over your notes and choose the workout that suited you best.
"My goal this year is to take control of my finances. I want to set some serious savings goals, understand my 401(k) better, make sure I have a sufficient emergency fund, and learn how to invest."
First step: Book some face-time with a financial consultant to set some realistic savings goals. Then, write the numerical figure in a calendar to track your progress. Use finance apps like Mint or Level Money to make sure your day-to-day spending allows you to hit your goal.
What are your New Year's resolutions? Share yours in the comments below!