The meaning of success for your New Year’s Resolutions

definition of success goals and plans

It’s Day Five of our Resolution Solutions, and today we’re looking at your personal meaning of success when it comes to whatever you’re planning for 2019. It’s very important to define what success means to you in this context, because it tells you what your goals are and the time limit for you to achieve them.

How to define your version of ‘success’

This is where you need to define some exact goals for yourself. These broadly fall into two categories:

  • Do something regularly (usually throughout 2019, or for a different set period of time, such as a month).
  • Hit a specific end point (pass an exam, get a new job, pay off £1000 of debt, complete a 10k race).

Avoid being vague here – what’s your main goal? Don’t be scared to do a little extra research here if it’s a subject you’re not familiar with.

If it’s something like ‘get fit’, can you make it less vague? For example, could it be ‘complete the Couch to 5K Challenge within 6 months’, or could it be ‘go to dance class / gym / circuit training 12 times per month for a year’? Alternatively, you might prefer to do some extra research, such as having a fitness assessment with a personal trainer and using the results (and their advice) to set a realistic goal with a fixed time period.

For example, my main goal is to have a new project every month during 2019, with a different subject each time. Some of them will be ‘do something every day’, some will be ‘do something three times per week’, and others will have specific end points such as getting 30 pieces of clutter out of my home.

Make a simple plan

Challenges and resolutions tend to go better when you have a simple plan, rather than a set of vague intentions.

Some, such as the ‘Couch to 5k Challenge’ are fairly specific programmes already, where you do a set amount of activity each week and build to a particular goal, in this case going from being completely unfit to being able to complete a 5k run within a few months. The same goes for goals such as ‘do this activity every day, or 3 times per week’, they are already quite clearly defined.

Others are more complex. Let’s say, for example, your main goal is to find a better job. The end point of this is someone else offering you a job that you want and accept – and as an individual you can’t fully control things like the specific foibles of any given recruiter or market forces. Since some of this is out of your control, you will have to break your resolution / project down into smaller tasks where you’re the person who’s in control of them. For example, you could:

  • Research 20 possible new employers
  • Make a list of what you want from this new better job
  • Update your basic CV and get it checked
  • Check 3 times a week for new job advertisements
  • Join 5 recruitment agencies
  • Complete a short course to improve your CV
  • Read 2 books about interview technique or other skills
  • Apply for 10 new jobs per month, tailoring your CV each time
  • Contact 15 friends and family about possible job openings
  • Phone 10 potential employers and ask about job openings

These are all ideas for sub-tasks that you can prioritise and then tick off a list in turn, using a relatively complex example.

Many other resolutions might only require a relatively simple plan, such as ‘read course materials within 1 month, make notes, revise 5 hours in total, take (and pass) exam’, or something similar.


Think about your resolutions and plans for the coming year. What are the specific goals that you would like to achieve? What should your simple plan to achieve those goals look like? What target should each step of your plan have? Write it all down so you can refer back to it later.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some ideas for effective scheduling to help you hit your targets and goals.


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