Happy New Year! I have enjoyed the last two weeks of being incognito and now I’m ready to go guns blazing into 2018.

And people have been asking me what are my New Year’s resolutions. They actually seem shocked that I intentionally choose not to write them.

My prime example of why I don’t: do you know a gym rat who groans in January of each year because he or she knows that the gym will be packed with people who have resolved to lose weight? For up to the first three months of the year, it’s harder to get the machines and weights you want because of this New Year resolvers, but then…it’s suddenly back to business as usual and the gym rats are again happy.

Resolutions don’t work because saying you want to lose weight has no structure to it. You’re not measuring out how you’re achieving your resolution. Without milestones, we humans drop our resolutions quickly and easily without a second thought.

Make a Goal with a Plan and Stick to It

Instead of a resolution for the year, how about you start with a goal written in the SMART way. And by that I mean Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART). Click here for an explanation of how to formulate a SMART goal.

Once you have your goal(s) in place, it’s important to back it up with a well-written action plan that can really help you see how you can achieve your goal. This part is critical to your success because you can throw out a lofty goal without knowing how to execute on it.

I have definitely done that before and then I completely freaked out because (1) I didn’t think I could achieve it (mindset) and (2) I had no structure for achieving it. Without a game plan, I try to do ALL the things and feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants. It’s NO FUN and I end up not getting any goals completed.

While it is tough for us humans to actually sit down and write an action plan down (me included), it is the best method for holding yourself accountable and taking action. The best part is when you chunk out your goal into smaller steps in a timeline, the fear and overwhelm of how you will meet your goal will have less space to talk whisper not-so-sweet nothings in your ear, allowing you a greater possibility of meeting your goal in time.

Sample Action Plan

Note: This is simply an example and not necessarily the action plan I suggest my clients to use. As you may know, I am not a big proponent of focusing lots of energy on online job applications, but this example will give you a taste of what can support you.

It is so important to also write down celebrations for your smaller steps along your action plan (let’s call them milestones) as well as what are your consequences when you do not meet your milestones. When you celebrate along your journey to achieving your goals, you have more fun and you feel into and cherish the progress you make which helps motivate you to keep going!

Start with the date of the wish fulfilled, then work backwards to reverse engineer your process. You may want to pick a date 6 months to a year out or a mark down a super memorable date.

Goal: To transition out of my current career and get the job I want

By when: September 25, 2016, 6 months from today

Now it’s time to break your goal down into manageable pieces (this is just an example):

9/25/16: Get hired by a new company

8/25/16: Get initial offer and negotiate offer; research companies and submit 10 applications to dream jobs; continue networking with at least 5 people a month

7/25/16: Research companies and go on interviews; continue networking with at least 5 people a month

6/25/16: Research companies and submit 10 applications to dream jobs; continue networking with at least 5 people a month

5/25/16: Research companies and submit 10 applications to dream jobs; continue networking with at least 5 people a month

4/25/16: Complete final list of ideal position

To your 2018 success!

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