Every New Year we make a list of resolutions we hope to accomplish, and every year we promise ourselves that this will be the year that we will stick to them. Yet for so many of us, by February 1 (or for some by January 2) we abandon our efforts for various reasons and think to ourselves, “there is always next year.” So what is really keeping us from carrying out our resolutions through the year? Hint: Planning.

What tends to be missing from most New Year’s resolution lists is an action plan. To help uphold our resolutions, below is a list of resolution mistakes and how to fix them so we are not staring at the same New Year’s list year after year.

Goal Binging: Does your resolution list tend to be longer than a child’s Christmas list to Santa? Remember, your resolution list is not a bucket list so be realistic and focus on only one or two items.

Vague Goals: If your goal is to “be a better employee,” then make sure you list exactly what you plan to do to accomplish this so that you can measure your progress. For example, “be on time to work” or “turn in assignments on time” are more direct and measurable goals to ensure you reach your overall goal.

Unrealistic Goals: Although writing down and vocalizing your dreams are important to achieving them, be realistic. Becoming an astronaut might not happen in one year, however, signing up for an astronomy class or joining a space exploration group can. The key is to set realistic and attainable goals to keep you on target to achieve a much larger dream down the road.

Inadequate Planning: Planning is key to successfully attaining New Year’s resolutions. Invest time and thought into how best you can reach your goal. Break it down into sub-goals and be specific about how you plan to attack each component. For example, if you plan to lose weight, plan your grocery list, workout routine and schedule.

Lack of Timelines: Even though we think about New Year’s resolutions on January 1, this may not be an effective time for you to actually undertake your resolution. Create a start date for your resolutions based on your own timing.

Whatever the goal may be, being mindful of creating a well thought out plan to measure progress and attain goals can help move us in the right direction.

For more information on action planning click here or to find action items specific to your New Year’s resolutions please click here.  Happy planning.