With this year coming to an end, many people are starting to think about New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest – that whole weight loss thing usually ends about noon on January 1st. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be one of those people on American Ninja Warrior, but I’m enough of a realist to know that a New Year’s resolution is not going to motivate me. Knowing this has made me approach this whole idea of resolutions differently.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

There are many different ways to look at resolutions. You can create to-do lists, goals, or even an Oprah-inspired dream board. The first step, in my opinion, is to stop calling them resolutions. Think of them more as aspirations for how you want your life to look.

I was watching a news segment a couple years ago that suggested you pick a word to reflect your year. I thought this was an interesting idea, so my word for the year was love. At the time, I was working in a very difficult environment and I needed a way to turn a negative into a positive. Focusing on love helped me realize what I wanted out of my career, and what was, and wasn’t, acceptable in a working environment.

Focusing on a single word had a huge impact on my personal life as well. I’m naturally quite introverted, but that year I discovered how much of an impact sharing the love can have on you. It’s amazing how much a smile and a hello can change a person’s day.

Last year, I made a to-do list of things I wanted to get done or learn about. I’m a lover of lists, so this one worked out pretty well. I had a personal list and a professional list that included two certifications I wanted. I wrote everything out on the chalkboard in my kitchen so I would have to look at my list every day. Looking at my list today, I can see that I accomplished most of what I set out to do, and then some. This has been a crazy year, and until I looked at that list I hadn’t realized how much I kicked butt this year.

There are a couple things on my list that I didn’t even touch, but you know what, I’m not going to beat myself up over that. I know I need to celebrate my successes and anything that still applies will get added to the list for 2017. A year is just dates on a calendar, so the things you want to accomplish don’t have to live within just one year.

Think About Your Impact

My biggest lesson from the last few years is that things won’t always go as planned, but the best thing to do is to learn from what didn’t work and move on. Not everything is a failure, sometimes it’s just a bend in the road. I think it’s also important to remember that the same life lessons can pop up multiple times, but they may not always have the same answer.

I’m working on my list for 2017. There are some big things on this list, and I’m really excited to get started. There are only a few days left in 2016 to really think about what kind of impact you want to have on the world. So, get those notebooks, marker boards, or chalkboards ready and get started on those 2017 “resolutions.”