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A 5-Step guide to setting actionable new year’s resolutions

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A holiday notebook outlining the 5-step guide to setting actionable new year's resolutions for 2020

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.

We talked about the winter break realities in our previous post.

And you’re either feeling them full force by now, or you’re still just living in the happy holiday cheer. Which is great! Don’t let us burst your bubble!

But no matter where you’re at, you’re obviously reading this post as you start to think about what you want 2020 to look like.

We respect this a lot, in fact, you’re our favorite kind of people 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 nobody.


Types of new year’s resolutions

But 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 in 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 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-set goal kind of defeats the purpose of feeling good enough about where you’re at in your present life.

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?

Or 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 the 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 are firm believers that goals evolve and change as we do, so they must be adaptable and flexible.

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


The new year’s ideas framework

We made a simple formula you can follow that better accommodates the accomplishments you should set out for 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 devoting 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 that goal easier to accomplish. This will require a little more thought but dissecting your goal will actually help you in the long term.

Do you have to enjoy eating healthy, find a studying method that actually works for you, 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?


Using this framework looks terrifying, 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 and forever for that matter.

If you can’t complete these 5 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 guy…

So go ahead start brainstorming some things you hope to see in 2020.


Some inspiration

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

  • More conscious spending habits by having a budget you monitor on a semesterly 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 adjust 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 much better skill than just saving for one thing.
    • 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.
  • Learning how to succeed in academics by finding your best studying method.
    • Why this is better than just trying to achieve a certain GPA: Find a study method that works for you will actually open the door to achieving a higher GPA anyways, without directly focusing on that one thing. It also sets you up for success because you can’t fail as simply as you could if you say happened to bomb your exam or butcher your essay. This is an ever-changing habit to form as well and is completely transferable when you are in your career.
    • PRO TIP: Turns out the study habits you have when you’re in college will be similar to your best working habits too!
    • ANOTHER PRO TIP: Get a planner and use it like your bible. Planning your day out and knowing when things are due can help you achieve success with minimal effort. This one is my favorite for simplicity and ease of use.
  • 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.
    • Something I have really enjoyed this past year is constantly changing my workout schedule around so I don’t get bored of the same things. one of the most versatile piece of equipment I own is resistance bands. I find my workouts on Instagram and 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 me when I go anywhere, even just home to my parent’s for the weekend. These ones are my go-to.
    • Also, check out this article about the keto diet, maybe this is something you can try this upcoming year!


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. So much better than the former we mentioned.

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!

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Forrest Grey

Forrest Grey

Forrest Grey is a psychologist in San Jose, California. He is fueled with a passion to understand the human mind as it relates to the decision-making process. When he is not involved in a research project, he enjoys playing baseball with his son.

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