At the start of the year, there are always a bunch of “New Year, New Me” memes floating around on social media.  Everyone likes to claim that they’re going to start chasing their dreams and living their best life once the ball drops.  However, most of us usually lose motivation and fall back into our old habits within the first few weeks.  If that sounds like you, it’s time to break the cycle.  We want 2018 to be your best year ever.  Here are five ways to set yourself up for success.

Learn from the past

Evaluating what has and hasn’t worked in the past can help you make better decisions in the future.  Reflect on the events of last year and see what lessons can be learned.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you accomplish your goals? If not, what got in the way?
  • What were your proudest moments?
  • What were your biggest disappointments?
  • How do you want this year to be different from the last?
  • Which behaviors do you want to stop, start or continue in 2018?

Even if your year wasn’t perfect, give yourself credit for coming this far and making strides to do better.

Let go of negativity

Don’t let the things that tripped you up in 2017, hold you back in 2018.  The New Year is your chance to start fresh.  Letting go of negativity allows better things to flow into your life.  Hate your job?  Look for a new one.  Holding on to a dead relationship?  Kiss them goodbye.  Friends dragging you down?  Cut them off.  Get rid of anything that doesn’t align with your values and where you’re trying to go.  It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

Create a vision board

What do you want your life to look like?  Many people believe that if you visualize your dreams, the Law of Attraction will draw them to you.  The best way to do this is to create a vision board.  All you’ll need is a magazine, scissors, glue and poster board.  Go through your magazine and clip any words or pictures that inspire you and represent your goals.  No wish is too big or too small, so shoot for the stars.  But only choose things that genuinely make you feel good.  Once you’ve made your selection, paste the images to your poster board.  When you’re done, sign and date your vision board and hang it somewhere it will constantly be seen.

Set SMART goals

Many people fail to accomplish their goals because they’re either too vague or unrealistic.  You’re more likely to bring your dreams to fruition if you set SMART goals.  That means they must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive.  You need to be clear about what you want to achieve this year, how you’ll track your progress and if it’s even possible.  Stick to goals that are truly meaningful to you instead of picking ones that are trendy.  Most importantly, give yourself a deadline.  A good tip is to reassess your goals every 3 months to see if you’re on the right track.  Here are a few examples of bad vs SMART goals.

Devise a plan and take action

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and he’s right.  For every goal you set, you need a plan to make it happen.  Your dreams will be much easier to achieve if you cut them into bite-sized pieces.  So, what steps will you take on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?  Remember, even baby steps are better than remaining idle.  Once you have a plan in place, start taking action.  No excuses and no exceptions.