Have you been saying you want to workout but you just don’t have time? Or you want to learn another language but there are not enough hours in the day? Whatever it is, if it’s important to you, you’ll make time. You’ll make it a priority. How you spend your time is a demonstration of what is truly important to you.

It’s traditional to make New Year’s resolutions—about 40 percent of Americans do. Basically, it’s a goal-setting exercise. And the first question is: How do you decide what’s important enough to be your resolution? Then you have to figure out what you have to do to move toward achieving your goal. And, you have to figure out what impediments you have to remove from your life in order to help you be successful.

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1) Determine What’s Important. You have the best chance of success if you choose a goal that’s possible to achieve. And that’s meaningful to you. Don’t make a resolution that society tells you to make—be sure it really resonates with you.

So what will make a significant difference in your life? What will make your life truly better? Chances are you know this in your heart of hearts. You know that if you stop smoking you will also stop worrying about getting cancer and all the other terrible health consequences your could suffer. You will save significant money as a side benefit. You will be able to kiss your beloved without subjecting him to ashtray breath. You can go on and on.

2) Make a Resolution You Can Keep. Maybe you want to workout every day, but this is probably unrealistic. You could get sick. Stuff happens. Instead, think about the benefits of working out. What specific goal are you trying to reach? To bench press X amount of pounds, for example, in six months. Quantify it.

Notice this is only one goal. People often make many resolutions. But twelve things are not of critical importance to you. Only one or two are. So pick a few and focus on them because too many goals fracture your efforts. And then you set yourself up for failure.

3) Create a Plan. You may want to write it down, because when you do, you feel more committed. And commitment is critical to success. What are the things you can do to move you toward your goal? If you’re trying to lose weight, your plan may include scheduling exercise, keeping a log of the food you eat, making a spreadsheet of your meals and grocery shopping. List everything that will advance you toward achieving your resolution.

4) Make a schedule and stick to it. Focus on a narrow group of activities that will move you toward your goal. Declare your intentions to people you love who will support you in your effort. And whom you will not want to disappoint.

5) Know How to Subtract. Most of us know how to take on new goals but our lives are full. If you take on a serious commitment to yourself, what areas in your life will need to take a back seat? This is important to think about, and usually not easy to come to terms with. Something has to give.

Keep a journal of how you spend your time and you may be surprised. You may discover you spend a lot of time on things that aren’t important to you—things that can be cut that don’t bring you joy. When cut these things, you will have time for the things that help you achieve your resolution.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact.