How to Effectively Make and Tackle New Year’s Resolutions

Tips for approaching goals, building momentum and giving yourself grace.

Montclair-based life coach Allison Task

“Nothing helps achieve a bigger goal like achieving a small goal,” says life coach Allison Task. Photo courtesy of Donna Dotan

Making a resolution this year? “Be realistic and give yourself some grace,” says Montclair-based career and life coach Allison Task, author of the self-help book Personal (R)evolution.

She recommends making a list of what’s most important to you, rating your level of satisfaction with those aspects of your life, and checking to see if there’s any discrepancy. “Where is the gap? That’s what you work on,” says Task.

For example, maybe family and friends are important to you, but you haven’t spent a lot of time with them lately, or maybe your health is a priority, but you’ve recently gained some weight you’d like to lose.

Once you’ve identified what you want to focus on, create a specific goal that is attainable within a certain time frame. “You need to make sure it is something that truly matters to you,” says Task, “and that can be done in the allotted time.”

If you aren’t ready for a big change or commitment, start small, she says. “Sometimes the milestone is too big, so I love the concept of inch pebbles,” says Task.

They are mini-goals that you can work on daily and focus on for a month, like skipping the wine at dinner to achieve better sleep and productivity the next day. “Sometimes you need a goal you can succeed at before you set your next goal,” she says, adding that that can help build momentum. “Nothing helps achieve a bigger goal like achieving a small goal.”

And if you are ready for bigger moves, think about setting a goal you can work on over the course of the year. “I’ve always liked the idea of having a theme for the year,” says Task.

For example, if you felt depleted last year, she says, maybe this year can be a year of rest. “Can you imagine what an audacious goal it would be to say, ‘I’m going to rest this year?’” Or you might choose a more active theme, like enhancing your professional training. If you don’t want to give a theme to a whole year, “know your objective quarter to quarter,” says Task.

Remember that you don’t have to cave to the pressure to have a resolution at all, she adds. “If you don’t have a resolution and you don’t want to play that game, don’t play that game,” she says. “You can say, ‘I’m taking a pass this year. Ask me [next year].”

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