THE BLOG
12/31/2014 03:20 pm ET Updated Mar 02, 2015

15 Ways to Make 2015 Your Most Successful Year Yet

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Another year has come to a close. Everyone is excited for the opportunity to start fresh and find ways to improve themselves in the upcoming year. Here are the top 15 ways you can ensure you set yourself up for your most successful year yet in 2015.

1. Ditch your resolutions and make SMART goals instead. Instead of saying what you do or don't plan to do in 2015, make something concrete. SMART goals are something that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Actually put these goals in writing and you will be much more likely to achieve them. Better yet -- put them in writing and then make an action plan on small milestones you plan to achieve to be successful in the overall goal. Put them somewhere you can see them each day so they stay top of mind, one at home and one at the office.

2. Create a networking strategy. If you are looking for an opportunity, in reality you are looking for a person. Opportunities are tied to people. Once you determine your goals for the year, take time to think of specific people that can help you achieve each goal. Reach out to them to set a meeting and find ways to create a win-win relationship. Networking isn't just about handing out business cards, it is about building meaningful relationships that help both individuals become more successful!

3. Show more gratitude every day. One way that you can reduce stress and live a happier life is to take time every day to be thankful. Keep a gratitude journal that each morning or night you write at least one thing you are thankful for that day. It will help you focus on the positive things even when times are tough!

4. Get healthy. "Healthy" can mean a lot of different things to different people. Healthy is a lifestyle. Being physically fit has many positive performance benefits including increased productivity, improved mood, higher confidence and self-esteem, boosted energy and better sleep. Take small steps to gradually live a healthier life style -- plan meals, get a personal trainer, commit to a gym schedule -- whatever makes sense for you. Before you know it you will see the benefits of eating healthier and staying physically active!

5. Read more. In a recent Pew Research Center study it was reported that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. The number of non-book readers has nearly tripled since 1978. On the flip side, according to Nielsen statistics, the average American watches over 34 hours live TV a week plus another 3-6 hours watching taped programs. In 2015, make a commitment to read more and watch TV less. Your bank account with thank you!

6. Create a professional development plan. With the start of a new year, everyone says there are things they want to do to improve in certain areas. But, hardly any make a written plan. Take time to actually write out the action steps you will need to take to reach your goals and milestones to make sure you stay on track. How will you measure your success? Look at the larger picture -- what are your 3, 5, 10 and lifetime goals? Map out the steps you need to take this year to get yourself headed in the right direction to meet your longer term goals.

7. Learn a new skill. Try something new! Look at what programs your local technical college has to offer. There are so many interesting things to do in the world -- why stop learning once you are done with school? This will help you meet new people and open you up to new experiences and opportunities. Never stop learning.

8. Create a personal mission and vision statement. One of the biggest roadblocks people face in meeting their goals is that they don't have a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve. A vision statement defines your optimal desired future state and helps provide guidance and inspiration on what you are focused on achieving. A mission statement defines your current purpose and answers the questions what you do, who you do it for and how you do it. By creating a vision and mission statement you will clarify where you currently are and what it is you are looking to achieve in your life. This will make it easier to define the steps you need to get there.

9. Challenge yourself. It is easy to get into a routine. Get up, go to work, make dinner, go to bed. But the exciting things in life happen when you take risks and challenge yourself. Find ways as often as possible to stretch your limits. Do something difficult and if you fail, don't worry about it. More learning happens when you fail than when you succeed. Always be searching for your next adventure!

10. Plan a trip. Speaking of adventures, plan a trip for this year. It doesn't have to be something that breaks the bank. Find a creative way to visit a new place. Take lots of pictures and enjoy every minute. The greatest things in life are experiences, not material possessions. People often say they want to see a new place, but never actually take the steps to make it happen. Pick a date and get your 2015 trip on the calendar today.

11. Create a budget. It's no secret that money can be a huge stressor, both personally and in a relationship. A budget is an invaluable took to help you prioritize your spending and manage your money. You can use a simple spreadsheet or check out free online programs like Mint.com or PersonalCapital.com. Make a commitment to be more responsible about your spending and saving to set yourself up for success now and in the long term.

12. Commit to your relationship. Whether you are in a new relationship or have been with someone many years, having a strong relationship takes work. Find ways to make your partner smile, put their needs before yours and show affection as much as possible. The grass isn't greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it -- so make sure you are giving your relationship the attention it deserves and you will see great results!

13. Invest in yourself. There is no investment that will give better returns that investing in yourself. When you have a little financial skin in the game you are much more likely to seriously commit to something. What can you invest in to move you closer to reaching your goals this year? Look into hiring a life coach or executive coach, buy that new piece of software for your computer, get that new treadmill for your gym -- once you start putting your hard earned money towards achieving something you will be compelled to have a stronger commitment to succeed.

14. Create a morning routine. This is an area I personally will be working on in 2015 (along with many of the other things). As a self-proclaimed non-morning person, I know I needed a change. If you read or watched interviews from almost any ultra-successful people you will notice they all have structured morning routines. They vary from person to person, but the concept is the same. The have a routine they do to start their day each morning to set themselves up for success. It can include meditation, exercise, eating healthy, reviewing goals and much more -- whatever makes sense for you. Instead of hitting snooze in 2015, wake up and complete a morning routine that gets your mind and body ready for a great day.

15. Get an accountability partner. Lastly, find an accountability partner to share your goals and action plans with for 2015. This person should help motivate and inspire you, tell you when you are doing well and give you a kick in the butt when you need it. Your partner can be a spouse, friend or business partner, just make sure it is someone who will be sure to help keep you on track!

Wishing you a happy, prosperous and successful new year! Happy 2015!

About Jenna: Jenna is the President of Jenna Atkinson Consulting, a firm that specializes in creating actionable strategies for organizations to develop and engage their emerging leaders. She was recognized as one of InBusiness magazine's 40 Under 40 in 2014. She speaks, trains and consults with a wide range of organizations to help their employees reach the next level of success. For more tips on success, check out JennaAtkinsonConsulting.com.