With 2014 quickly fading to black, many people are thinking about what changes they want to make in their life in the New Year. The bad news is that most New Year’s resolutions fail, and the reason for the failure generally falls into two categories- a lack of planning/preparation, and choosing a goal that isn’t aligned with, or meaningful for, you. The planning/preparation part is very specific to each goal and each person and won’t be covered here. The good news, however, is that by working through three questions, and exploring the answers that come from them, we can all strengthen our likelihood of success, whatever the resolution, or goal is.

Importance: Is this goal/change important to me? If the answer is not a resounding ‘yes’, look for another goal. Because life change is difficult, if the goal is not important to us, we will be very unlikely to follow through both strongly and long term. If the goal is important to you, ask yourself why? This provides really important and personal information, and to paraphrase Viktor Frankl if you know the why, you will find the how.

Willingness: Am I willing to do what it takes to achieve this goal? There are lots of things that we think are important, but we aren’t willing to do what it takes to really go after them at this time. For goals that do not meet this criteria, I would recommend filing them under ‘not right now’, because the desire to make the change may increase over time.

Ability: Am I able to do what is required to meet the goal/challenge? This is the question that stops many people from really going after things that they feel really strongly about, and are really willing to do, but don’t know where to begin. This is also where we often run headlong into self-limiting core beliefs about the world and our place in it.

Goal setting and the resulting changes can really be very stirring and challenging on many deeply personal and practical levels, and this is all really great material to bring to counselling.