Be honest: You’ve probably broken your fair share of New Year’s Resolutions. And I don’t blame you—in 365 days, there are bound to be slip-ups (and slip-ups turns into abandoned commitments really fast).

Personally, I’ve never been one to believe in drastic overnight change, and if you’re anything like me, you know the true secret to a good resolution is a well-thought-out plan.

For example, setting a goal you can actually reach!


1. You Want to Master a New Skill

Whether it’s speaking a new language, learning how to code, or picking up an instrument, a desire to develop a new skill is always an exciting endeavor. It’s also the kind that requires a lot of commitment and practice, and I’m willing to bet that’s why this particular resolution usually loses steam fast.


How to Make it Happen

Sign up for a local class or find communities online that center around what you’re trying to learn—don’t go it alone. This way, you’ll not only have built-in resources and support throughout your journey, but you’ll also have people to hold you accountable.


2. You Want to Quit a Bad Habit

As a serial nail biter, I can’t tell you how many years I’ve vowed to quit this terrible habit. I haven’t been able to shake it so far. My biggest problem? Quitting cold turkey has never worked for me, so this year, I’m going to find a different mindless habit to take its place. You could give it a try, too.


How to Make it Happen

According to a short piece by James Clear, habits are hard to quit because they fill a specific function in your life. So, quitting isn’t so much about stopping something entirely as it is about replacing it with something new and better to channel that energy into.

As for me, I’m trying out new ways to keep my hands and mouth occupied, by chewing gum or spinning my pen instead.


3. You Want to Spend More Time With People You LIke

Obviously, you mean well when you resolve to see more of your parents, siblings, friends, in the new year. The holidays have a great way of reminding us just how little time we spend with the people we care about, but unless you come up with a plan to intentionally pencil these people in and follow through, they won’t just magically click into your calendar.


How to Make it Happen

Figure out which relationships you want to cultivate, and how much time you want to put into this effort. If it means making space in your busy schedule to see your friends every other weekend, then set that time aside. If it means seeing your family three times a year, then be proactive about making those plans ahead of time—and that means as soon as you logistically can.

Once the quick pace of business as usual picks up, you’ll be glad you put in the time to make it not only possible, but headache-free to see your favorite faces.


The lesson I’m getting at here? Big change comes in small increments. If you name your goals specifically, and you know what it takes to reach them, you’ll have a much easier time reaching the results. The new year is an exciting time to be ambitious and dream big, and you’ll be so happy with yourself if you set yourself up for success.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions, and how are you going to make them come true? Tweet me and let me know @caroqliu!

Photo of man returning from trip courtesy of David Schaffer/Getty Images.