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3 Ways To Use Self-Reflection To Create New Year Resolutions You Will Actually Keep

Written by: Bianca E. Solitaire, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The closing of a year seems like time is sped up, with hearts set on finishing as much work as possible before taking a well-earned holiday break. But once the New Year confetti settles and we grudgingly ease our way back to work, we are confronted with an abrupt mental shift towards the year ahead.

sticky notes with new year's goals text,

Many start making lofty resolutions with strong expectations that this new year will somehow be different than the last. All too often though, the motivation to carry out those ambitious goals disappears almost as soon as the holiday decorations are taken down and stored.

So, why is it so hard to keep our resolutions?

Well, a big part of the issue is people tend to make resolutions that are not specific enough or meaningful enough to make one take action on it. Typically, little thought goes into understanding WHY we are creating these resolutions and WHAT we need to do to achieve them. If our goals are unclear, too large, and do not connect to a deeper meaning within us, the process of seeing them through becomes overwhelming and subject to meeting our nemesis, procrastination.

Before making resolutions, we must first spend some quiet time away to self-reflect. Self-reflection allows you to reset, find direction, and clarify how you want to move forward. It also helps you pinpoint areas in your life causing stress, which can impact your motivation and follow-through with personal or professional goals.

Self-reflection is more than just spending time alone. It makes you check in with yourself about how things are really going in your life and determine what needs to change. In the following sections, I’ll discuss 3 uses for your time of reflection that can help to strengthen your resolutions and set them up for success.

Explore Your Personal Values

A good place to start is focused thought about your values. Your values are ideals, standards, or beliefs that are important to you in life. Your values help to guide your decisions and actions. A core value is one that holds a high level of meaning to you. When we consider something to be of high value, there is a strong positive feeling attached to it, thus motivating us to seek it out.

When we find ourselves doing actions that go against values, we can become extremely uncomfortable and anxious. Knowing what is truly meaningful to you and assessing how much of it you have in your life, helps to gain insight about what needs to be prioritized and why.

Identifying your core values is useful when creating personal and professional goals. The more your goals are aligned with your top values, the higher the chance for success with sticking with them.

Below is a short list of common values.

  • Social Connection

  • Security

  • Growth

  • Fairness

  • Health

  • Independence

  • Contribution

  • Simplicity

  • Determination

Now, let’s consider a situation where values can help to aid a goal.

You did some value exploration and determined that you strongly value health, determination, and social connection. You have wanted to lose weight for a while now, but have not yet made time to exercise. With the knowledge of what you value, you decide to invite a couple of friends to try a new exercise class with you at your gym. You find out that your friends also want to try the class and are excited to go with you.

In this example, not only are you working on improving your health, but you are also connecting with your friends, which will motivate you to exercise more often.

Protip No.1 ‒ Use a Value List and/or complete a Value Assessment!

Sometimes naming your values and figuring out which ones are the most important is difficult. Reading a list of common values can help to inspire thoughts about your own. Also, using a values assessment, that ranks your values, takes the guesswork out of choosing which ones to put at the top of your list. If you would like some tools to help with exploring your values, check out this article published by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute.

Set Your Intentions

Intentions are statements you make about the things you want. They are a way to take the wishes you have and transform them into focal points for you to pursue. Writing down your intentions for the year ahead makes your wants tangible and helps to hold you accountable to seeing them through.

There are various types of intentions you may want to set. Your intentions could be based on what you want more of in your life, habits you want to create, or even the type of year you want to have. Setting an intention is like making a commitment to yourself and helps you remain focused while working on achieving your goals.

When setting your intentions, write them down so you can continually refer to them throughout the year. Setting aside a few minutes daily to read them to yourself, helps to remember them and carry them in your spirit wherever you go. Whether you intend on taking better care of your health, increasing your income, or traveling more, make sure to phrase your intentions in a way that helps to encourage you. Keep your intentions simple, clear, motivating, and positive.

Protip No.2 Use “I will” or “I can” statements!

Telling yourself that you will or can do something helps to make it feel possible and is a powerful way to make a statement about what you want. It implies that the thing or action is going to happen, not that it is just a wish or a hope.

Create S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

During your years of working, you may have come across the term S.M.A.R.T goals before. The concept was originally introduced in 1981 by George Duran as an attempt to help managers set business goals and objectives that assume a higher probability of success.

Over the years, the concept has evolved and been adapted for outside of the workplace setting to help people with setting targeted goals and lay out a clear action plan to achieve them.

The most widely used definition of S.M.A.R.T goals includes these 5 elements:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound

A newer version of the S.M.A.R.T. Goal framework adds two more letters ‒ E and R. A S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal involves taking the extra step to EVALUATE your progress at various checkpoints and REVISE the goal if necessary.

Protip No.3 ‒ Use a worksheet!

I find that using a S.M.A.R.T goals worksheet really helps me dig into my goals on a deeper level, forcing me to visualize myself actually doing it. Thankfully, it is not hard to find a free worksheet these days on-line.

The need for self-reflection is often overlooked and making time for this can be seen as a luxury. But the thing with the highest value, your mind, needs regular rest and mental exercise in order for it to be strong. Give yourself a moment to be intentional about the goals you set, so that this year ends up truly being what you hoped it would be.

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Bianca E. Solitaire, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Bianca E. Solitaire is an innovative leader often sought out for her distinct viewpoints on mental health and well-being. A passionate advocate for self-empowerment, Bianca has counseled many people on overcoming fear and self-doubt in order to transform their circumstances. During her career as a Licensed Therapist, Bianca also spearheaded youth development programs that educated the next generation on life skills, financial literacy, and emotional wellness. She now imparts career resilience skills to millennial and Gen Z professionals via her company, Clear Cut Coaching LLC. She believes that once you become clear about who you are and where you want to go, the universe will align to get you there.





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