fireworksThe holidays are officially over. Return flights have landed, decorations have been put away… And people all around the world are (perhaps with a sigh of relief) preparing for the year ahead.

Whether or not you tend to make New Year’s Resolutions, you will probably agree that January inherently feels fresh and new – like the perfect time to reflect on the previous 12 months, and prepare for the next. It’s a great time to set new goals for yourself – and craft step-by-step plans to help you reach them.

To help get you started, here are some tips for keeping those New Year’s Resolutions (whether or not you call them that) – recommended girlfriend to girlfriend:

Be Realistic: When planning your goals for the coming year, be honest with yourself about where you are and the resources you can realistically devote to your resolutions. Perhaps you’d like to lose some weight, or increase your income, or save up for a big purchase. Be sure to be realistic when setting that target number; otherwise,  you are setting yourself up for failure.

yogaCreate An Outline: It’s great to have a long-term goal with a deadline far into the future; however, not having immediate steps or actions to take can make that goal feel even farther away than it is. Create an outline for yourself, breaking down the step-by-step process you will go through in order to reach your overall goal. If possible, make it time-sensitive, with a new step or mini goal to be completed each week or month. This will help to keep you on task.

Talk About It: No, your friends and family probably don’t want to hear you endlessly talk about your latest great idea. However, confiding in someone else about the goals you have for yourself will help you actualize those goals – and who knows? It may even inspire that person to do the same. When selecting your confidante, be sure to choose someone who is supportive and positive – and also someone who will help keep you accountable for your actions.

Reward Yourself: Along the way, while you work towards reaching your long-term goal, you are sure to encounter a number of smaller successes. Reward yourself for them! Of course, you’ll want to make those rewards appropriate and not something that will set you back from your goal. But if you’ve managed to save up a certain amount of money, you may want to buy yourself a little gift; by the same token, if you’ve lost a certain amount of weight, it might be time to indulge in your favorite treat. These little rewards will help to keep you motivated and happy – and at the end of the day, isn’t that what this is all about?

hornsBe Gentle: By the same token, there may be times when you fall short of your own expectations. If that happens, don’t beat yourself up! Yes, of course you want to stay on track and meet your goals – but keep in mind that the purpose here is to feel better about yourself, not worse! Also keep in mind that the time frame of a New Year’s Resolution (ie. a year) is completely arbitrary; if you find yourself losing steam mid-year or running out of time completely by year’s end, don’t despair – just re-evaluate your timeline, and try again.

Do you have any tips for setting and keeping goals? Did you make New Year’s Resolutions this year? We’d love to hear back from you all! Drop us a line in the “comments” section below, and be automatically entered to win a free gift from MyChelle!*

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By Liana Orenstein