Your Best Year Ever: Here’s How To Make The Most Meaningful New Year’s Resolutions Yet

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Lose weight.

Get organized.

Spend less.

According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, these are, in order, the top three New Year’s resolutions that Americans make.

While health, organization and savings may be important, these popular benchmarks can feel generic–and yield less meaningful results.

So this year, instead of vowing to get a booty like Beyonce’s, why not make a resolution that will help you live a more fulfilling life?

Just how do you determine which changes will have the most impact on your overall well-being and create the most meaningful new year’s resolutions yet?

Try these five steps:

Review the past year: There’s no way to achieve your goal if you haven’t singled it out. Sure, “be happier” is a great goal, but first you have to define what happiness is to you. And that requires some introspection.

Look at the year you’ve had so far and ask yourself, “When was I the happiest this year, and what was it that brought me that feeling?”

Even the most miserable of years have at least one bit of joy, be it momentous or miniscule. Was it that time you helped kids at the local YMCA? Was it planning that huge surprise party for your BFF that went off without a hitch and blew her away? Was it the feeling of finally finishing the business plan for start-up idea?

Don’t worry what the moment was. Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event or an activity you can’t repeat doesn’t matter–take stock and write them down.

Analyze your answers: Okay, you’ve written down a few things that made you feel great this past year. Now what?  Look for the meaning behind the events you listed.

Let’s take the example of the surprise party you through for your best friend. What are you supposed to do with that? Vow to start a company that throws surprise parties for people?

Well, maybe–it could be a brilliant idea for a business–but look deeper and ask yourself, “Why did that event make me feel so good?”

Maybe you enjoy making your friends feel loved. Or it could be that you cherish the feeling of accomplishment that comes with successfully actualizing a big plan.

Determine how to replicate those feelings: Look at the answers you just listed–the reason why a particular event made you feel good.

Now answer this: “What other actions would create similar outcomes?”

Let’s continue with our “surprise party” example. If you determined that the reason throwing the party made you feel positive is due to letting a friend know you love her, then write down some things you can do that would make other friends feel appreciated.

Now think of other events you’d enjoy planning for–maybe creating a strategy to start a small business, or a training schedule to help run your first marathon. Add these actions to your notebook.

Break down actions into small simple steps: A big reason so many people fail to stick with their New Year’s resolutions is because they thought about what it takes to actually achieve the goal.

If you got the idea to make a scrapbook for a friend filled with memories from your fun times together, list the steps required to make it happen, like collecting photos and supplies. If you want to write a note within the pages, you will need to think of what to write. Get specific.

The more vague your goal is, the less likely you are to achieve it. By outlining the actual steps involved you’ll be able to tackle the project little by little and see it through.

Make a plan for dealing with obstacles: Even the best laid plans can be be derailed by the vicissitudes of life.

You won’t be able to anticipate every setback. But you can figure out how to get back in the saddle should you get knocked off the horse.

Think about what has gotten in the way of achieving your goals in the past. Has something turned out to be more work than you could handle? If you find that happening again, make a promise to reach out to someone for help. If money is the obstacle, look at how you might trim your budget.

Once you’ve done all this work, take a look at everything you’ve written down. Now make a copy for your future self. You can either put it in a stamped, addressed envelope and give to a friend to mail to you in a few months, or you can use a free service like MemoToMe and have it sent to you in an email at whatever future date you choose.

No matter how wonderful (or lousy) 2015 was for you, shoot to make 2016 your best, most fulfilling year yet!

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