I’m not big on resolutions. I don’t even think I’ve actually ever made one. It’s not out of fear of keeping one, I just don’t agree with the idea that we get to binge ourselves silly until Dec. 31, only to make ourselves start the violent hypocritical purge on Jan. 1.

I guess you could say I have resolved not to.

But I do believe in reflection and goal setting.

Now is a good time to reflect on all the things we accomplished this year, and then decide what we want to tackle over the next 12 months.

I usually start this with my husband when we sit down to write our holiday cards. Every year, we look back on the year’s highlights, the good, the bad and the ugly, and we put it out there in one long run-on paragraph for all of our friends and relatives to envy and snicker at. We leave out bleeding ulcers and jailed relatives (why do people put that stuff in their cards?) and stick to the vacations and self-deprecating points of interest.

I find it cathartic and revealing. It serves as a great jumping off point for goal-setting for the following year.

After the relatives leave and the ill-fitting gifts are returned, I suggest you sit down and make a list of four or five things you want to get done in 2009. Anything more than that starts to become unmanageable. Your list might look something like this:

• Lose 25 pounds.
• Get a promotion.
• Take a trip to Europe.
• Pay down my debt.

These are lofty goals! Can you see how if these were resolutions, they likely wouldn’t be kept? By breaking each goal down into bite-size pieces, though, they might stand half a chance.

Let’s take that first goal of losing 25 pounds. Your doctor may tell you that in order to be successful, and keep the weight off, you should plan on losing two to three pounds a month by modifying your diet and exercising more. So, one week in January, you could clean out your refrigerator and pantry and walk around the block. That’s a goal anyone can achieve.

Maybe the second week you will walk a little bit further. And the third week, you might even add some hand weights. You see where I am going with this. Break it down, put it on your calendar, keep it simple and chip away at it.

The key to success in goal setting is reflection. Each morning I look at my calendar and plan my day accordingly. Each evening, I review and make adjustments so that I can start fresh the next day. I do the same on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

Reflection allows for more successful planning. You’ve got to make a point, though, of doing this on a regular basis.

To achieve your goals, don’t just throw them down on a piece of paper and forget about it. Work it every day. Resolve to take those small steps, one at a time.     

Lisa Snider is a local freelance writer For more, go to
www.LisaSnider.com.