Five Ways to Begin Meeting Your New Year’s Goals

By Kelly Ainslie, MC, BSW, RSW, RCC

According to the research, approximately 60% of us say we make resolutions, but less than 10% report success in achieving these goals. Maybe you’ve experienced this as well. I know I have! You’re all excited and ready for a great change to occur over the year, and within a few months (or weeks, or days!) you fall back into old patterns.

Last year, to my great surprise, I found success in meeting my New Year’s resolution! The difference for me? I wrote it down AND attached my feelings about it. I revisited my goal regularly and kept logging in my feelings. I made sure that I noticed when my feelings were less positive and looked back at what I had written about on better days to get myself back on track.

So, if you are thinking about making some changes this year, I have included 5 ideas to get you started on your journey to success.

“And suddenly you know… it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.”    

                                                           ~Meister Eckhart

1.  Start with your goal and then grow it. This might sound like an obvious start point, but what I am suggesting is you don’t just think what you want to achieve, but write it down with a big heading, and underline it. This is your big focus point, so you need to really look at it and then dissect it. Underneath write down everything that is associated with this goal. Is this what you want really? Is it achievable? What will you gain, lose, balance, etc. by achieving it? What will your loved ones say, think, do differently by you achieving this goal.

2.  Review your past successes in relation to your new goal. It is common for us to look at what we don’t have, and what we have not achieved. Instead, look at what you have accomplished, and what you did to get to where you are at. Build upon these successes to reach your future goals. Oprah Winfrey said, “Be thankful for what you have, and you’ll end up having more.” Focus on what you have and what you are grateful for in your life; remember, what you focus on is what you amplify.

3.  Start with small, doable steps. So, you’ve made your goal, but to achieve it, you need to start with small, achievable steps. We can’t just leap to the end point, nor should we want to! We need to learn to appreciate our successes each small step of the way. Below your goal, write down the small points that you can do to get to your end goal and envision completing each small step along the way. Appreciate yourself as you meet each of these baby steps; they are important, and ultimately recognizing your strengths and abilities will build your confidence that you can keep going. If you have a setback, revisit the areas when you have been successful, notice what was different, and use this past success to get yourself back on track.

4. Start asking yourself better questions. The “what if” game can be a downward spiral of negativity. “What if I fail?” “What if others see me screw up?” This type of questioning can lead us back to old habits and self-doubt. Start asking yourself, “What do I want instead?” “How can I build on my past successes?” These types of questions lead you to think differently about yourself and ultimately create a new way of being.

5. Envision your success. Athletes will commonly imagine their goals down to the most minute of details. Research is finding that when we practice visualizing successfully meeting our goals, it increases our self-confidence and self-efficacy. Simply said, people who break down their goals into great details, spend time visualizing each of these small steps, and visualize an ending that includes reaching their goals, have more success actually doing so in real life.

I believe that journaling my journey and my feelings along the way contributed to my success, so it may be helpful for you as well. And remember, be kind to yourself in this process of change. Let this be the year you set yourself up for success!

Moving forward on this journey together… Kelly


Kelly Ainslie is a mental health clinician, holding Interprovincial Registration as a Social Worker and as a Registered Clinical Counsellor in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. Kelly specializes in meeting the unique counselling needs of women, couples, older adults, and vulnerable populations diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.

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