How To Come Up With Realistic 2018 Goals (And Stick To Them)

It’s all about intentions, not resolutions

The new year is just days away, and I don’t think we’ve ever looked forward to that clock striking midnight more. As we kick the disaster that was 2017 to the curb (good riddance!), it’s time for us to start thinking about our goals for the upcoming year. How can we lay down the groundwork for a positive, less traumatic year than last—at least, you know, on a personal level?

However, as we begin listing the changes we want to see, we’re reminded that almost every year, we sit down and create a list of these “New Year’s resolutions,” and every year, we fail to actually follow through with most—if not all—of them. How do we create a solid list of goals that are not only realistic but ones that we’ll actually stick to through 2018—and beyond?

To get to the bottom of this holiday dilemma, we chatted with expert life coaches to get their advice on creating a list of goals that are realistic, positive, and achievable. Hint? It begins with dropping the word “resolution” from your vocabulary.

Let’s make 2018 the best year yet (or, at least, way better than 2017). Keep scrolling to find out how.

First, reframe your thinkingAs you sit down and start to think about what you want to put on your list of resolutions for 2018, making sure you’re in the right mindset is key—especially if you want to actually stick to them this year.

Before you even start coming up with any specific goals, transitional life coach Maddy Moon wants you to reframe your way of thinking in a way that sets an intention, rather than fixes something. “Fresh beginnings are a great way to realign your desires, so I recommend you start the process entirely from a place of self-love instead of self-fixing,” she says. “Instead of thinking in terms of resolutions, which means finding a solution to a problem, I suggest setting an intention."

The end goal can be similar, but it's the way you word it. Rather than tell yourself that you need to lose 10 pounds or that you need to make more money, you want to frame it in a way that doesn’t suggest that you’re not good enough as you are already. “I want to try a new workout class,” or “I want to explore new side job options,” is a much more positive approach. “With intentions, there is also more wiggle room to explore the matter in which you go about a goal,” says Moon.

Is your heart in it?Now that you’re in the right frame of mind and have started creating a list of intentions, you want to make sure that your heart is in each and every one of them—and knowing that might not be as easy as you'd think.

Kingsley Delacato, goal guru and adventure director for Surf Yoga Beer, wants you to first ask yourself what about each goal is important to you, and how achieving each would make you feel. “Does it help you to feel more confident? More accomplished? Maybe it makes you feel brave or proud. Get clear on why it matters and why it means something to you. Any goal or resolution that has your heart in it is a resolution that you can get behind.” And, of course, anything that doesn’t make you feel good should be rethought, reworked, or reconsidered.

She goes on to explain that our intentions should be goals that come from within and align with our sense of self. “As long as you’re following your heart and practicing self-love along the way, you can’t go wrong,” she says.

Sometimes the intentions and goals that come from our heart might seem, well, impossible, but these are the ones that we need to be listening to. As television host and conscious lifestyle expert Alyson Charles (aka RockStar Shaman) explains, the resolutions and goals we create from our hearts may seem unrealistic to the human mind or logic, “but they’re actually the most realistic because our soul’s truth is where they’re being conjured from, and when you’re tapping into your unique truth, power, and wisdom, that’s the key to all of life and in the key to creating resolutions as well.” The sky’s the limit!

“The reason some resolutions may have seemed hard in the past is because you created them from your mind, you maybe created a resolution that you think you ‘should’ accomplish because it was looking good on paper or on your social media feed,” she goes on to explain. “But deep down inside, your soul didn’t really want that. You maybe created a resolution that would make your parents happy or your husband happy, but it isn’t your truth. Those are the hard resolutions that don’t stick, and they don’t stick because it’s not your soul song.”

Don't be so hard on yourselfThe reason it’s so hard to follow through with resolutions and new year goals is because we tend to be way too hard on ourselves. “The reason why most resolutions fail is because they’re created out of a place of shame and resentment,” says Trina Harmon, transformational coach and healer. “You know you’re in shame when you use the word ‘should,’ or resentment when we use the words ‘I need to. This is not a great long-term motivator for anything, so when it comes to setting a resolution, instead ask yourself, ‘If I really loved myself, what would I do differently to give me more peace of mind in my life?’ or, ‘What would I allow myself to create or experience? These are the kind of questions that inspire you to do what you truly desire as opposed to what you think you need—and when we’re given desire, we’re always given the power to fulfill it.”

As Charles explains, your intentions should “light you up, ignite the air you breathe, and make you come alive inside when you think about achieving them.” Anything worded with a negative connotation isn’t going to make you feel that way, that’s for sure. Instead, Charles suggests writing our your intentions in positive phrasing.

Make it funIf you're keeping positive phrasing and wording in mind, working at achieving your goals should be an enjoyable experience. And yet it often isn't, because when we come up with these “goal lists” for the new year, they seem more like an assignment than something that should feel good. That’s why Harmon stresses that you make your resolutions actually something you can have fun doing. “Create some way for it to be enjoyable,” she says. If fitness is on your mind for resolutions, she gives a simple solution:

Don’t force yourself to go to the gym if you aren’t inspired by sweating over treadmills and StairMasters! Instead, find a yoga or dance class with a motivating instructor, start a walking routine with a friend, or spend more time outside. There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t like to do certain things that are "good for you." In all areas of life, your mind and body will always respond better to the energy of things you love as opposed to the things you naturally resist.

So go ahead and have some fun. 

Break tougher goals into smaller stepsSome goals are tougher to stick to than others, no matter how fun you make it. We get it. We've been there. But, as long as its something you really, truly want, you should strive to enter the new year refreshed and up for a challenge.

Still, if one of your goals seems overwhelming, Delacato suggests breaking it down into smaller pieces and really analyzing it to see how you can better attain it. She says, “Write down all the steps it takes to achieve that resolution. If it’s difficult, list all the reasons why it’s so difficult, and cross off those reasons one by one as you go through them. Ask yourself, if you had one habit that could change all of your other habits in order to help this resolution stick, what would it be? Start there.”

Suzie Kerr Wright, holistic life coach and reiki master, suggests making these tougher-to-reach goals approachable by outlining the practical steps that will get you there. “You can’t fly a plane until you’ve taken lessons. Resolve to ‘make calls to investigate what it would take to learn to fly a plane,’ rather than make a grand statement such as, ‘I will fly a plane this year.’ While you can certainly have big goals and dreams—which I encourage—the bigger they are, the more important it is to make resolutions that get you there one step at a time."

Put them out into the universe Once you've come up with a really solid list of intentions for 2018, you want to get them out there, not just keep them in your head. Delacato suggests getting them out into the universe, whether that means writing them in a notebook, telling your friends, or shouting them from a rooftop. “The first step in making something happen is giving yourself permission to create it in the first place,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to state all of the things that you want to achieve and accomplish. Whatever your goal is, claim it as your own. Put it into creation. Then, go get it!”

Another way to put out your intentions is to create a vision board, Charles suggests. “Having this visual in your home impresses upon your conscious and subconscious mind every time you see it, making you an even more potent manifesting magnet.” Slap it on your fridge, tape it over your bedroom mirror—do whatever you wish, as long as you’ll see it every day. 

Moon also suggests setting “anchors,” which will help keep you focused on the goals you’re trying to manifest. Whether that’s setting a daily alert on your phone to remind you of your goal (for example, a message that says, ‘Congratulations, your painting sold for $15,000’ if your goal is to sell your work) or changing your Facebook password to remind you of a resolution.

No matter how you get them out there, be proud of the goals you set (and don't be afraid to show it.) The more you believe in your goals and allow yourself to feel their positive influence, the easier it will be to reach them.