The first step to crafting great New Year's Resolutions or goals is to check in and see where you are. A firm knowledge of your current baseline is an important starting point for growth.
A simple strategy is to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 across on areas that are important to you. Common areas are fitness, professional, educational, nutrition, and financial. However it is just as important to include other areas such as social, emotional, or spiritual (spirituality often can be replaced by sense of purpose if one would prefer), since our well-being is connected to all areas of our life.
Once you rate yourself the next step is to take the time to think about why you chose that rating for yourself at this time and date. I suggest taking the time to write a few sentences to reflect. Once that is complete think about what you could do to improve each rating. This offers the opportunity for additional reflection and insight while initiating the process of goal setting and purposeful action.
The last step is to prioritize each domain and begin to work towards the most important to you.
Once you have a goal utilize these strategies:
1.) Mental Contrasting.
Take the time to contrast the benefits of achieving your goals with the obstacles that get in the way. This serves two purposes first it focuses people on realistic goals and secondly the obstacles provide areas to improve on.
2.) If-Then Thinking
We covered this earlier but making specific plans that link actions and situations has a strong influence on goal attainment. For example "This year I will eat better" is vague. However "If I feel hungry at work today then I will eat an apple" actually primes your mind for purposeful action.
3.) Replace Old Habits
It is much easier to replace old habits than to rid them permanently. Create new habits by doing the something different in the same in environment at the same time. The length of time it takes to build a successful habit depends on a lot of factors including the habit you've chosen and your personality, but two controllable factors effort and consistency are the first place to start.
For example if you always eat junk food when your anxious it is easier to replace the junk food with a healthy snack. Or if you bite your nails come up with something that will allow you to use your hands like tapping. In both cases the cue (anxiety) and the reward (relief) remain the same but the routine is changed.
One of the easiest ways to promote willpower and self control is to take the time to think of something that is important to you or you are grateful for. Just this little exercise can provide big results.