The new year is just around the corner, which means it’s time to take stock of the current year and make goals for the next one. I don’t make resolutions very often, but I respect those who do. While personal growth should be a constant factor in life, it’s good to have a culturally sanctioned time to get properly motivated.

Not that it always works. The biggest cliche of resolutions is the one where you buy a gym membership, work out every day for the first few weeks, and completely forget about it by the end of January. It was a great goal in theory, but in reality there was nothing to sustain it.

But that doesn’t mean you should scrap goal-making completely; just make reasonable ones. Change doesn’t happen all at once, so you need to think and plan for the long-term.

How do you make a goal more than just a one-sentence declaration? Education. Read articles about the topic. Watch documentaries or news reports, if applicable. Talk to other people who have done the same thing. The more background knowledge you have, the more likely you’ll be to follow through.

Understand your goals. If you want to lose weight, figure out why. Is it so you can fit into your old jeans? That’s a pretty narrow goal. Is it so you can feel good about yourself? That’s easier to tackle. Learn about the importance of healthy eating. Go to the gym to improve your cardiovascular strength, increase your stamina, improve your sleep, and maybe, eventually, drop a few pounds.

As a personal example, my goal for this year is to practice meditation. I know I want to do it – and, more importantly, I know why I want to do it. I’m motivated enough to read about meditation, but I’m not quite ready to add it to my life. Small steps. Ideally, though, I’ll get there by springtime.

And whether or not you’re making goals, have a healthy and happy new year!

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