Resolutions Aren’t Just for the New Year: Planning for personal growth

Making a new year’s resolution can be invigorating and empowering, until you realize that your heart wasn’t really in it after all. It’s all well and good to say you’re going to lose a few pounds or learn a foreign language, but unless you believe a resolution has lasting meaning, it’ll probably come to nothing.

If that happens, don’t wait a whole year to set a new goal. Give it another shot right away and, this time, be sure to connect that resolution to something broader and more impactful. You’re likely to pursue it more energetically if you can see it as a means to a larger end.

Learning Chinese, Spanish or Arabic is a fine thing, but your commitment level will be considerably higher if the end result is a teaching certificate, or a promotion at work. Your resolution becomes integral to your ongoing “story,” a personal narrative you create about yourself. The great thing about a New Year’s resolution is that there’s no limit to what you can try, or how it might improve your life. Personal wellness can mean so many things.

Healthy mind, healthy outlook

No matter what you resolve, your mental and emotional condition determines how successful you’ll be. Healthy cognitive functioning depends on maintaining healthful habits that keep you well-rested and engaged. Researchers believe that getting at least seven hours of sleep every night is a major factor in maintaining good cognitive functioning. Physical exercise, which prevents obesity and improves blood flow, is also an important contributor to good brain health, as is social activity, which is key to personal happiness and helps people avoid depression and loneliness.

Professional growth

Professional growth is about more than volunteering to work nights and weekends. As you look ahead, consider what you really want to do and how you might get there. Everyone’s more motivated to work hard when it’s for something they’re truly passionate about. If you covet that supervisor’s job, think about beginning a post-graduate degree program, enrolling in some professional training or pursuing technical certification. It’s a good bet you’ll be fully committed if it leads to a more fulfilling career. If you’re just going through the motions at the office, it might be time to think about a new job in a different profession.

Grow your skill set

Adding to your knowledge base and capabilities can give you a real confidence boost. Even if it’s something that doesn’t directly relate to your job, you never know when it’ll come in handy in any aspect of your life. Studying philosophy, learning to work on your car, engaging in travel, or involving yourself in charitable activities are just a few activities that can broaden your perspective and give you an enriching sense of accomplishment. There are plenty of learning opportunities on the Internet, ways to pick up a new skill or refine an ability you’d like to do more with. Stanford University’s Open Learning Initiative is a good example of an online resource that provides free and convenient avenues to new knowledge.  


Enhancing your social engagement can take many forms. For some people it could mean creating or dressing up a LinkedIn account, for others it could be reaching out to people with good professional and personal connections. Start out with small steps. Invite a mentor or someone in your personal circle you admire for lunch or coffee. Sometimes, an hour or two of face-to-face time can make a tremendous difference.

Restorative practices

Improving physical and mental health is essential to achieving your goals. Yoga, meditation and swimming are some of the most widely practiced and successful restorative practices for people of all experience and ability levels. They help clear the mind and focus concentration, which can help you identify stress triggers that contribute to negative behaviors.

Health and passion

When it comes to personal growth and wellness, physical/mental health and personal passion go hand-in-hand. The success of a resolution is dependent on how much it helps you work toward larger, more meaningful goals. As you think about your goals, consider how a resolution can help you achieve a new reality.

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