Dear Patti,

How do I pick New Year’s resolutions and successfully reach my goals?

  — Christie

With New Year’s resolutions come a sense of hope, excitement, a desire to make life better, a chance for renewal and a dream of a new self that resonates deep inside.

Start by making a list of all the changes you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. The sky’s the limit! This is a chance to go through a thoughtful self-analysis and determine what’s important to you. Go over your resolutions carefully and narrow the list down to five.

The goals you choose should be important to you, not what others expect. Plan out and write a statement of intent that is specific, realistic and contains measurable goals. Don’t write “get out of debt” but rather “I want the loan to my grandparents paid off by June and all my credit cards paid off by the end of the year.”

Write a statement of intent about each of your resolutions, one that is specific, realistic and contains measurable goals. Resolution statements tend to come with a “should” or a “must.” You will more likely be successful, however, if you make it a “want to” intention rather than a “have to” chore. Keep your written action plan with you at all times and practice every day, one day at a time. Remember that something big and important usually takes a while to accomplish. With the passage of each week, try to lovingly look at what went wrong and — with new clarity — reset your intentions for the coming week.

Create a resolution calendar marked with clear small achievements to keep you on track and give you the confidence to continue.  Practice, practice, practice!

Research shows that only 12 percent of participants in a resolution study actually achieved their goals. Identifying your resolutions is fairly undemanding. Following through and making it a success can be overwhelming. Start actively harnessing your motivation today and resolve to achieve your resolutions one day at a time for one year. Keep your written statement and your planning calendar in a highly visible space to serve as a reminder of the new strategies you’re incorporating into your life. Schedule dedicated time each week to monitor the results and make adjustments. Your life is a work in progress. Nothing big gets accomplished overnight.  Resolutions are set in one day but are implemented with a hundred tiny steps that happen throughout the whole year.

Visualize how amazing it will be to have your goal completed. Change of any kind is challenging, but if you persist and appreciate each accomplishment you make, the new you will be well worth the effort. New Year’s resolutions can be your chance to decide what you want to change about your life and truly change it, an opportunity to go through thoughtful self-analysis and take an introspective look at what’s really important to you.

If you slack off, don’t be critical; just get back to following through on your goals. Focus on a desire to make life better, a chance for renewal and a dream of a new self that resonates deep inside. By working on your goal all year long, you can be one of the few able to say that you really did keep your New Year’s resolution.

Seek inspiration in the words of the following luminaries:

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” — Albert Einstein

“You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You were not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings; learn to use them and fly.” — Rumi

“Never, ever give up.” — Sir Winston Churchill

In the words of Confucius, “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”

By working on your goal all year long, you can be one of the few able to say that you really did keep your New Year’s resolution.

Take care and have a wonderful New Year!


Patti Carmalt-Vener, a faculty member with the Southern California Society for Intensive Short Term Psychotherapy, is a psychotherapist in private practice with offices in Pasadena, Santa Monica and Canoga Park. Contact her at (626) 584-8582 or email pcarmalt@aol.com. Visit her website, patticarmalt-vener.com.