setting new year's resolutions


In the past few years, instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, Danny and I have come up with a theme that we focus on throughout the year. We’ve done themes like, “happy and healthy,” “simplify,” and last year’s was “control.” We’ve done this because we’ve kind of considered it a given that we’d have goals we want to accomplish throughout the year. This year though, there are specific things that we want to accomplish in 2019, so we’re setting New Year’s resolutions.

I love the end of the year, looking back and reflecting on the things that went right, the things that went wrong, and ways I can make the upcoming year even better. I read a statistic recently that only an estimated 8% of people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions! So here are some ideas to help you in setting New Year’s resolutions that you’ll actually be able to stick to throughout the year.



It may seem obvious, but the first step you should take towards setting New Year’s resolutions is taking time to reflect on things that you would like to change. In How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, the author introduces the “KFC” method. In order to accomplish things, you have to know what you want, find out what you are getting, and change your behavior until you get what you want. (We discuss this in thorough detail in our book, Phased— a perfect book for starting out the new year to get your fitness and finances on track). Taking the time to reflect on what you want and to understand what you are getting/where you are will make all the difference in setting New Year’s resolutions that you’ll actually be able to stick to. So, take time and reflect.


After you’ve reflected on what changes you’d like to make, you’ll need to set some goals based on those desires. If you haven’t heard of the “smart” method of setting goals, which were originally applied to goal setting in management, but are completely applicable to setting New Year’s resolutions, smart goals are S – specific, M – measureable, A – achievable, R – relevant, and T – time bound.

SPECIFIC – goals should be specific enough that you know exactly what you want to achieve. You should consider the 6 “w’s” of your goal. Who needs to be involved in order for you to achieve your goal? What exactly are you trying to accomplish? When do you want to accomplish it? Where should your goal be accomplished (if “where” is relevant)? Why do you want to achieve your goal?

MEASURABLE – the more measurable a goal is, the more likely you are to succeed. How will you measure the progress you need to make towards your goal?

Example: Goal – I want to pay off $50,000 of debt by the end of next year. I will make my debt payment first, after every pay check I receive. I will increase my income by taking on side hustles in the evening so that I can make ends meet in addition to my debt payments. I will check in with myself at the end of every month to make sure I’ve paid at least $4166 in debt ($4166 x 12 months of the year = $50k)

ACHIEVABLE – it may sound obvious, but your New Year’s resolution must actually be achievable in order for you to… well… achieve it. Sometimes we set too lofty of goals for ourselves and set ourselves up for failure. So while your New Year’s resolutions should stretch you and inspire change, they shouldn’t be unreachable. Be realist with yourself. And if you aren’t a realistic person (like me), bounce your ideas off of the people around you and see what they think.

RELEVANT – your New Year’s resolutions should also be relevant in the broader picture of your life. Is this a goal that you are actually going to care about in a few months? Is it a goal you’ll still care about next year? If it is, you have yourself a relevant goal. If it’s not, consider setting different New Year’s resolutions that will still be relevant to you after some time passes. It would be pretty hard to accomplish a goal that you aren’t going to care about in the future. Have you seen the episode of The Office where Michael Scott is considering adopting a baby without giving it much thought. His secretary, Pam, says, “You know… the waiting list is like 8 months.” Michael says, “8 months?? I don’t even know if I’ll want a baby in 8 months.” “Yeah… you probably won’t.” Don’t be a Michael Scott. Set relevant goals.

TIME BOUND – goals should have a realistic deadline associated with them. I would love to set a goal of paying off the remaining $450k of debt I have by the end of next year, but given my current income and expenses, that is probably not a realistic goal for me. Rather, I should set a deadline that is actually achievable but still pushes me to work hard towards my goal.

Make sense? Smart.


Once you have your SMART goals narrowed down, you should create a daily, weekly, and or monthly plan to help you execute those goals.

Set mini-goals to help you accomplish your larger goals. Using the example above, if you wanted to pay off $50k of debt by the end of next year, a mini goal would be to pay off $4166 of debt each month.

Once you have those mini-goals in place that will help you accomplish your larger goals, you need to determine what needs to happen in order for you to achieve those mini-goals. Continuing on with our example, if you’re trying to pay off $4166 of debt per month, but your income is $4000 per month, you need to figure out how to increase your income so you can achieve your mini goal while also accounting for your other expenses.

After you have determined what you need to do to accomplish your goal (in the example above, increasing your income) you then need to create a plan on the actions you will take to get there. Perhaps it’s applying for a new job or a side job or taking on that side business you’ve had on the back burner. Whatever it is, determine the exact action you are going to take.

THEN, and probably most importantly, it’s time to TAKE ACTION. DO THE THINGS– the actions– that will help you accomplish your mini goals and thereby your overarching goals/New Year’s resolutions.

Setting New Year’s resolutions can be life changing as long as you stick to the principles we’ve described here. Take time to reflect, set smart goals, and create a plan, and you’re well on your way to achieving your dreamiest of dreams in 2019. I created this free New Year’s Resolutions printable to help you focus, so make sure you go grab a copy! Happy New Year!

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Leave a comment and I’ll help you stay on track! 

P.S. Have you subscribed to our newsletter? Gain access to all of the tips and tricks we’re using to pay off $650k of student loan debt!


setting new year's resolutions


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