The New Year is supposed to bring a fresh start — a reset if you will. For no other reason than the clock strikes twelve and a new year is here, we seem to give ourselves a clean slate.

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We say “this will be my year.” I will…

  • Eat healthier.
  • Lose the weight.
  • Tell my mom I love her more.
  • Stop impulse buying.
  • Give more.
  • Read that book.
  • Become an all-around better person that does all of these things and watches less TV (just as soon as I get through the next season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. And not a second sooner).

Every year seems to start with a promise to become a better version of ourselves. We want to know more, do more, and overall, be more.

The problem with that is we seldom reflect on whether or not we are really growing. Our self-improvement is stunted by our vague aspirations and lack of accountability.

If you’re not great at keeping resolutions but want to make changes in 2019, there are a few key things to keep in mind as you set goals.

Take time to reflect. Many of us don’t hold ourselves up to high standards when it comes to bettering ourselves. We dream about what it would be like to be skinny or rich or beautiful. But how often do you take inventory of your progress? Stop making excuses. Stop letting yourself off the hook. Start holding yourself accountable.

Create a game plan. There is no magic genie. You won’t ever get three wishes. If you want something, you have to work for it. The best way to turn a dream into a reality is to turn a dream into a plan. Realistically, you are more likely to succeed if you focus on a few goals, rather than trying to conquer everything this year. Save a few for 2020.

Be specific. Remember seeing those words on papers and tests in red ink? Your professors were asking you to dig deeper. Now, you have to be your own professor. Discipline yourself enough to make goals that you can measure. “Read more” doesn’t say much. If you don’t read at all right now, reading the menu at Taco Bell could count as “reading more”. Instead, set a goal of reading one new book a month. If that seems unrealistic, maybe say one book a season — anything more is a bonus.

Break your barriers. What’s holding you back? What’s stopping you from losing that weight? Or watching less TV? You’re going to eat the cookies on the counter. You’ll inevitably put your book down and flip on the TV if you’re reading in front of it. Acknowledge everything in your way, and take note of what is in your control to change.

Have you ever heard the phrase, a year from now you’ll be happy you started today? Or is it you’ll wish you’ve started today? Which is it for you?