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It’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions: A how-to guide

There’s a method in the madness to build purpose in the blank slate of what your next year could be. 

It’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions: A how-to guide
[irissca / Adobe Stock]

Take it from a Type A entrepreneur who is obsessive about list creation—it’s not too late to list your resolutions for the new year. As proof of my “listicle” commitment, I have a bucket list that has swollen to 204 items. It is meticulously kept up to date in Evernote and acts as a guiding force in not just my New Year’s resolutions but my overall life design. Lists are how I operate; they’re a catnip for my intensely active planning brain.

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At my agency, resolutions are part of our annual rhythm. They become guide posts for our quarterly system of objectives and key results (OKRs). Resolutions are the macro, OKRs the mid-ground, and a “daily top three” is the micro of how we track against our goals. The system I lay out here for resolutions can be done solo, with a group of friends over a warm cup of cacao, or at work with your colleagues. I find that the latter is a great heart-opener that can truly help bridge more meaningful connections at work, even through remote environments—edit: especially through remote environments.

IF DECEMBER IS YOUR BUSY MONTH, WAIT

In the agency land where my work persona exists, December is crunch time. It is a mad sprint for December 23: the finish line when all annual budgets are spent, proof-of-execution packages are submitted, and finally, our sleep-deprived souls put up our out-of-office notifications not to be disturbed until the new year. It is a time filled with adrenaline, fueled by deadlines, followed by a rush of holiday shopping and nonstop family outings. In my world, it’s not the best time for annual planning. So I wait, typically until mid-January or even the Chinese New Year.

Now you’re ready for this tried-and-true system, inspired by many great friends and leaders with bits and bobs gathered and morphed across years of leading this process—for myself, in workplaces, and at corporate retreats. It’s pretty simple, and there’s a method in the madness to build purpose in the blank slate of what your next year could be.

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STEP 1: SET AND SETTING ARE KEY

If you’ve ever participated in a guided psychedelic ceremony, you may be familiar with the term “set and setting.” This is essentially the act of creating intention in a safe and conducive space. It’s about intent and safety, allowing yourself an environment where you can be open to creative and challenging experiences, free from distractions.

STEP 2: BREAK THE ICE

It’s time to loosen up, let go of any judgment, free your mind, and open it to “oh, the possibility!” Start with a few deep breaths, either by yourself or as part of a group. Answer this reflective question: “What were my best personal and professional moments of last year?” Journal or share in a circle.

STEP 3: THE SECRET IS TO VISION BOARD

Let’s get messy! Shifting to a visual medium, like a vision board, can help fire different neural pathways, cementing your vision for the next year. This is the method behind the 2006 sensation, The Secret, and Jack Canfield gives an excellent how-to explanation.

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There are two ways to approach this activity: in real life (IRL) or digital. In my experience, both work to achieve the end goal, though the IRL approach has the added bonus of getting you off a screen.

STEP 4: BRAINSTORM POSSIBILITY ON DIFFERENT TIMELINES

Now to get into the nitty-gritty. Break 30 minutes of time into three equal segments of 10 minutes to consider these categories:

1. Long-term: What are all the wild and wacky things you’d like to experience across your entire life? No holds barred. Scribble your craziest fantasies—the more audacious the better. What age do you want to live to? What is your net worth?

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2. The next five to 10 years: Which of your “forever” goals could sit on a five- to 10-year timeline? Circle these. What else do you see on your five-year horizon? Write as many things as possible. Where are you living and working? What does your family look like?

3. The next 12 months: Which of your five- to 10-year goals can you circle and move to next year? What else can you do in the next 12 months to manifest your longer-term vision? What is your salary at the end of the year? Who are you spending your time with?

STEP 5: CATEGORIZE AND RANK

Now, distill your big lists into a handful of memorable goals. Let’s synthesize. Beside each item on your one-year list, add one of the following:

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H: health and wellness

F: wealth and finance

P: people (friends, family)

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W: work life

B: best ever

The “best ever” category is a freebie; it’s something you want to be world-class. For example, a “best-ever relationship with my partner” or to be a “best-ever snowboarder.”

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If you’re missing a goal for a particular category, reflect and add one.

Now, for each category that you have more than one goal, rank them from highest to lowest priority using a numerical scale (1 for the most important, 2 for the next most important, etc).

STEP 6: REWRITE AND SHARE

You have your full list, but we need to make it succinct. For each category (H, F, P, W, B), rewrite your top priority goal. In the end, you should have five—a great, actionable number that you can remember. Congratulations! These are your resolutions.

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Time to share. Post them on a wall where you’ll see them all the time; put them on social media; share with your friends the next time you hang out. The more you can share, the stronger your connection to the resolutions will be, and the more likely you are to achieve them.

That’s it! That’s all. Give it a try and I hope your next year will be filled with an abundance of all that you’ve resolved.


Ashleigh Vogstad, Founder & CEO, Transcends Marketing   

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