A 5-Step Guide to Setting Actionable New Year's Resolutions

Marissa Daniel
May 4, 2021

We’re neck-deep in that time of year. The holidays are upon us once and for all.   And your winter break will eventually end… #sad.   If you’re just living in the happy holiday cheer, that is great! Don’t let us burst your bubble!   But no matter where you’re at, you’re obviously reading this post because you're starting to think about what you want 2020 to look like.   We respect this a lot, in fact, you’re our favorite kind of person because you’re on top of your game and ready to kick off your new year the right way.   A little goal-setting never killed anyone.  

Types of new year’s resolutions

There are a few types of people when it comes to New Year’s resolution:
  • The list-makers
  • The nay-sayers,
  • And people who are on a roll so hard they forgot to make goals for the upcoming year (ugh, don’t you wish you fell into this category?)
  Wherever you stand we have a spot for you, so don’t rule yourself out of this guide just yet! We’ll get to you!  

We’re on the fence about New Year’s resolutions…

We should probably start with how we feel about New Year’s resolutions…  
  Wellllll, we have mixed feelings. New Year’s resolutions are great. They’re ambitious and they can really work if you put in the work….   But we don’t want you to feel crumby if you fall short or don’t meet the mark of what you set out to do.   It’s like this: It’s really great to have goals, goals are important to success and overall happiness and can help us focus our efforts and ideas into something that can be super rewarding. Like a certain GPA or scoring a job we really wanted, or even just saving enough money to go on spring break!   But progress is progress, and giving yourself a hard-t0-achieve goal kind of defeats the purpose of feeling good enough about where you’re at in your present life.
After all, isn't life about finding a good balance between being healthy and happy?
  For example, when you reach that GPA, are you going to stop working to maintain it?   If you get the job you want, are you going to settle and not work to climb the ladder?   When you save enough money for spring break, are you going to just stop there and go back to your old ways of careless spending?   We are firm believers that goals evolve and change as we do, so they must be adaptable and flexible.   Don’t you agree?  

New Year’s ideas

Here’s our advice on how to set your New Year’s resolutions in a non-conventional way.   First of all, ditch the word “resolutions;” “New Year’s Ideas” has a much better ring to it.   Now that you have a New Year’s Ideas mentality…   We want to help you rewrite your New Year’s Ideas!   Get the idea out of your head that you need to set a certain number of things you hope to accomplish in the new year.   You’re much better off focusing on a few things and really crushing them, rather than trying to be a master of all trades.   That never bodes well and is extremely overwhelming    

Five steps to building your New Year’s ideas framework

Here's a simple formula you can follow that will help you be successful at goal-setting in the coming year.
  1. Start with the category the goal/idea falls into.
  Is it health, academic, professional, personal? Whatever it is, write that down.   2. Ask yourself if it’s a short-term or long-term goal/idea.   This is important because it forces you to decide how much attention you should be devoted to this goal/idea.   3. Decide what is absolutely required of you to reach the goal/idea.   Do you have to start working out, studying more, saving money, you get the idea….   4. This is the hardest part. Take a step back, and think about what would make your goal easier to accomplish. This will require a little more thought, but dissecting your goal will actually help you in the long term.   For example, would you have to enjoy eating healthy, find a studying method that actually works for you, or understand where your money is going?   5. Now that you’ve done the work to see the goal/idea for what it’s worth, find ways in which this idea can adapt over time.   Can you make your fitness goal something that has no “end goal?”   Can you use your favorite study goal in a career setting?   Can you adapt your spending habits as you move into adulthood?   This framework may seem intimidating, but to be honest, it’s easy if you actually care about the goals/ideas you want to see and accomplish in the new year - or forever, for that matter.   If you can’t complete these five steps for setting your goal, then maybe it’s not something worth pursuing and you should focus your time and effort on something you actually do care about.   And we don’t mean that harshly, we just actually want you to succeed and definitely not feel like this panda…     So go ahead; start brainstorming some things you hope to see in 2020.  

Inspiration to get started

Here are some of our ideas…. Feel free to use them, that’s what they’re here for!  

1. Build more conscious spending habits by having a budget you monitor on a semester basis

Why this is better than saving just for one thing: By focusing on ONE thing you kind of forget the entire point of what it means to save money.   Saving money requires you to focus on where you are spending your money, and adjusting your spending/saving accordingly. Using a budget spreadsheet and paying attention to it can let you set new savings goals and also track your spending habits, which is a skill that will serve you for your entire life.   (Psssst. we can help you with that, download our budget spreadsheet and get started ASAP)   Looking for a little more info about saving money? Money Honey: A Simple 7-Step Guide For Getting Your Financial $hit Together by Rachel Richards perfectly outlines her money methods in a way that’s not too complex and can really help you as you move into the world of adulting.  

2. Learn how to succeed in academics by finding your best studying method

Why this is better than just trying to achieve a certain GPA: Finding a study method that works for you will actually open the door to achieving a higher GPA in the long-term. It also sets you up for success, because it extends beyond one-off mistakes like bombing your exam or butchering your essay.   This is an ever-changing habit to form as well, and is completely transferable as you start your career. It turns out the study habits you have when you’re in college will be similar to your best working habits, too!     PRO TIP: Planning your day out and knowing when things are due can help you achieve success with minimal effort. Get a planner and use it like your bible. This one is my favorite for simplicity and ease of use.  

3. Find something you enjoy doing for health and wellness that you want to keep doing

Why this is better than saying you want to lose x amount of weight, or gain x amount of muscle, etc: The trouble with setting numbers like these as goals, is that they are easy to lose sight of and give up on. If you don’t see immediate results you’re a lot more likely to give up the goal than if you were to focus on finding something you enjoy doing.   To avoid bored, you may want to consider constantly changing your workout schedule around.   One of the most versatile pieces of workout equipment is resistance bands. Once you find a workout on Instagram, these bands can be used anywhere. YUP – even your dorm room on a snow day. How cool is that?   The best part is taking them with you wherever you go, even just home for the weekend. These ones are a go-to.   If you're looking for more of a nutrition tip,  check out this article on keto diets; maybe this is something you can try in the upcoming year!  

The benefits of finding the right New Year's "idea"

When you find something you like doing, it becomes less of a chore and more of a self-care activity that makes you feel good.   And when you feel good, the stress of trying to look or be a certain way can be eliminated.   We hope this helps you rethink the whole New Year’s Resolution thing, and hopefully take the stress off of you as everyone is #goalsetting.   And if you’re not into it, that’s cool too! Keep doing what you’re doing if that works for you.   There’s no right or wrong way to find success!   The only thing we want to instill is that you actually focus on what you care about. The rest will fall into place.   Happy New Year!