THE BLOG
01/05/2015 01:31 pm ET Updated Mar 07, 2015

How to Create (and Keep!) Inspiring New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! This year I've got a super-charged way of creating motivating resolutions and a method that helps you stick to your plans every day. There are eight steps:

Step 1: List 25 Lifetime Goals
Go ahead and be audacious. You don't need to share these with anybody, but you do need to go ahead and write down the 25 things you'd most like to see happen in your life.

Step 2: Boil Down Your Lifetime Goals to 5
Take a look at your big list and prioritize the five that are within closer reach in terms of timing, and that most reflect your values and what's important to you in life.

Step 3: List 25 Goals for This Year
Write down 25 things you could resolve to do this year that could bring you closer to these 5 lifetime goals.

Step 4: Boil Down Your Goals for This Year to 5
I know it seems crazy to make these long lists and then cut them down, but your goals and lists are far more inspiring when you need to reach for more -- and then hone your focus to your priorities. It reminds you that you have options and that you're free to choose how to spend your time; and it reminds you of what actually matters to you.

Step 5: Create a Daily Routine
Based on your five goals for this year, create a daily routine that incorporates small daily habits that will move you towards your goals.

Personally, I love my daily walks in the woods for both stress relief and fitness, so that's staying in my routine.

Step 6: Create a Daily Worksheet
Based on your anticipated daily routine, you're going to create a worksheet that you can look at every day so that you can be reminded of what you need to do to reach your goals.

My daily worksheet includes a series of charts and checklists that cover the different times of day and different goals I have, like:

  • An early morning routine so that I get my meditation, journaling, and novel writing done.
  • An exercise chart so that I know what physical activities I have planned for which days.
  • A dinner section so that I know what to shop for and prepare each day of the week.
  • My work schedule so that I can fill in my to-do list for each day.
  • A chart to remind me to spend 10 minutes tidying each floor of our home every day.

Step 7: Decide How to Use Your Daily Worksheets
When will you refer to your worksheet? Where will you keep your worksheets so that you remember to check off your goals every day?

If you prefer paper, you could keep your worksheets in a binder on your kitchen counter or desk. Or you could put one worksheet inside a clear plastic holder and write on your worksheet each day with a dry erase marker. Or create digital worksheets and keep them in a folder on your computer. Create a calendar reminder so that you remember to use your worksheets.

Whether you prefer paper or digital, keep copies of your progress so you can look back at the end of the month and evaluate how well your routine is working for you. Then make adjustments to your worksheet if necessary at the end of each month.

Step 8: Swap Perfectionism for Persistence
This is the most important step. It's easy to make a mistake on a resolution and to use that one screw-up (or even a series of screw-ups) to toss the whole enchilada. Instead, it's imperative to remain curious to find out where you went wrong and correct course.

For example, if you cheat on your resolution to eat healthy -- because you're human and you will -- don't beat yourself up and then quit. Instead, do a post-mortem to see how the mistake happened, and then make an adjustment, either to your attitude or to your plan. Repeat, ad nauseum.

Keep tracking via your daily worksheets, and adjust as necessary. And voila! You've got yourself a winning resolution.

Are you making resolutions this year? If so, sign up for Katie Morton's newsletter to get a free copy of her ebook 10 Steps to a Blissful Life to learn how to break bad habits and live bigger.