It’s the beginning of 2019, and many conversations concern what New Year’s resolutions everyone has committed to.

We all feel like we need to write up a list, even if we know we’ll probably never get around to them.We set ourselves up for failure with lofty promises in our resolutions, which leads to disappointment.

Most don’t set achievable goals, which makes them miserable in two ways: they struggle to reach their goal and they secondly feel dejected when they fail to attain it. It’s far too easy to add a cheat day or skip a task when you are the only one keeping yourself accountable.

Straying from goals early on can leave people discouraged and bogged down by a feeling of failure. New Year’s resolutions can also be too vague, which makes it easy to create shortcuts that undermine all of your past hard work and leaves a feeling of being unfulfilled.

The tradition of writing resolutions around the beginning of the year is a process that has become too ritualized and formulaic. People are expected to set goals at every new year, which makes them less authentic and more like a chore.

While New Year’s resolutions may be an effective motivating tool for some, it is important to consider that there are lots of ways to improve your life through goal setting besides engaging in the ritual of resolutions.

Instead of writing a list of promises on self-improvement that seem way out of reach, start small. Think outside of the box to find areas of your life that you want to improve and set a plan with long-term significance.

Realistic goals should also be specific. Goals should lay down what your plan for improvement is, rather than a simple statement about “getting better” or doing something “more.”

Having someone else is follow your progress can also help you be accountable in achieving your goals. Consider working together with a friend on the same goal or even finding someone to check in with periodically.

Choose goals that are set in the positive, ones that won’t make you feel bad about yourself if you can’t achieve them. Additionally, it is important in real success to give yourself room to make mistakes. Adjust your goals to fit any changes or challenges you come up against, making sure they stay practical and meaningful.

There’s all kinds of research out there explaining what experts say are the secrets to self-improvement, but it comes down to what works for you. Starting the new year strong includes an intentional focus on areas of your life you want to focus on and improve.

We don’t need New Year’s Day to give us permission to learn something new or improve on what we already know. We need to break away from the conventional view of setting unrealistic goals and focus on making achieving our aspirations a more meaningful, successful experience.

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