How do you mark the New Year? Do you make resolutions? Do you embrace a theme?

Or maybe you’re a One Word for the New Year type like me. Basically, each December, I choose a word that guides or challenges for the upcoming year. In case you’re not familiar with One Word for the New Year and it sounds intriguing, you can find out more here, here, and here.

Regardless of how you mark your New Year, now is a good time to take a look back and ask yourself a few questions. The best way to do this is to designate some time specifically for this. Grab a journal, computer, smartphone, or whatever works best for you and record your thoughts.

Here are some questions you can use to Assess this last year:

  1. What am I most pleased and most disappointed about regarding the past year?

  2. How did my life best and least reflect my values…what I believe to be true and important?

  3. What was a change or improvement I succeeded in making? What change or improvement did I want to make but didn’t?

  4. What was most satisfying and dissatisfying about my:

  • Career/employment?

  • Family life?

  • Personal development?

  • Spiritual life?

  • Health and fitness?

  • Relationships - Extended family and friends?

  • Finances?

  • Marriage or romantic relationships?

  • Friendships?

  • Personal Order – Organization, time management, keeping priorities?

  • Leisure – travel, downtime, relaxation, hobbies, recreation?

  • Physical Environment – Home, car, yard, neighborhood?

Once you’ve assessed where you are right now, you can think about where you’d like to go in the next year.

The whole New Year resolution concept can seem so enticing, yet end up being disappointing. We often set unrealistic goals, or try to change too much in too short a time. Then we can become so overwhelmed that we give up. In fact, less than half of us keep our resolutions beyond six months.

How can this year be different? How can we set goals that are realistic and attainable? <<Click to Tweet

How about just making a resolution to change one thing? Then, once you’ve successfully made that one change, and established a new habit, start working on making another change.  

I have found the 4As to be effective in moving us from where we are to where we want to be. If you’ve answered the questions above, you’ve already completed A #1, which is Assessment. 

Now based on your Assessment, what is one goal can you set? For example, let’s say your goal is to eat healthier.

Here’s what’s next:

Action – What action can you take to reach your goal? Be specific here. Make the goal something measurable like “I will limit my intake of carbohydrates and sugars, with an emphasis on eating whole food as opposed to processed food.”

Accountability - Okay, great you’ve set a goal that you can act on. Now how will you be accountable to that goal? Will you find a buddy who will come alongside you and encourage you and sometimes challenge you? Will you join a weight control program or meet with a nutritionist? How will you track your food? On paper? Using an app? Or using an activity tracker, such as a Fitbit, that allows you to track your food as well as your steps and exercise?

Achievement – Through a process of Assessment, Action, and Accountability, we are pretty much guaranteed to achieve our goals. We can make the changes we desire to make.

Once we’ve celebrated our achievement, it’s time to begin this powerful and effective cycle of change again.

Take some time to assess where you are today and where you’d like to be next year. Then choose to make one change at a time. You’ll find those individual changes add up!

Happy New Year!


Elise Daly Parker has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, family, friends...and really likes travel!

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