As 2016 winds down, for many of us, our minds leap toward how we’ll make 2017 a better year personally and professionally. Before you start setting goals for next year, take the opportunity to remember and celebrate the things you accomplished this year. To visualize how much you achieved, make a list – one you can return to when 2017 feels like it might get the best of you.

Start by rifling through your old to-do lists. Notice the boxes you checked or the items you crossed off.  Revisit your calendar. Find meetings and events you attended that moved important plans forward.

Ask yourself these questions. Which long-standing projects did you finally complete? What new and beneficial relationships did you begin?  What’s something new you learned about your ability to achieve? What small or large things did you say “yes” to in spite of fear or anxiety.

Before you begin making resolutions or thinking about how you’re going to tackle the New Year, acknowledge the ways you made a difference in your own life or in the lives of others in 2016. Taking stock of your accomplishments will remind you that you’re capable of great things, and it will boost your confidence as you take on new challenges in the year ahead.

I know everyone doesn’t believe in making resolutions. If you do, you know that keeping New Year’s resolutions can be difficult. One reason is that we view our goals as one giant task. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with an ambitious target like losing 30 pounds, or finding a new job. Frustration builds up when we don’t see progress quickly enough, easily derailing our best intentions.

Try this. Break down your resolutions into smaller monthly goals. Rather than writing down or making a mental note to get a new job, start researching the types of jobs you’re qualified for in January. In February, review and update your resume now that you have a better understanding of the skills you’ll need to highlight. In March, explore job search methods. Spend April making connections with people and organizations that will assist you in your search. In May, take steps that will increase your visibility among important decision makers. Start sending out resumes or applying for positions in June. Commit to applying for a certain number of jobs each week or by the end of each month until you achieve success.

This exercise works with any big goal you’ve set for yourself. Breaking complex goals down into smaller parts will help you think through the steps it will take to reach success. Each small victory will boost your confidence and put you in the right frame of mind to follow through on the promises you made to yourself on New Year’s Day.

Create a great 2017!

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