Goals are complex, yet valuable. To help you get off to a running start this year, here’s a cheat sheet of how to create goals and—the hard part—how to stick to them:

  1. Connect goals to values like gratitude and staying healthy. 
  2. Come up with images or reminders to stay connected to your deeper sense of purpose. This could be as elaborate as a vision board as simple as a couple of photos that remind you of why you set this goal.
  3. Think of framing a goal around the process, not just the outcome. 
  4. Build in a social component, like choosing a workout buddy or planning healthy potlucks.
  5. Anticipate that important goals may raise anxiety and stress temporarily. Plan what to do in your mind if that happens, before it happens.
  6. Plan for setbacks and negative emotions like disappointment and frustration.
  7. Create contingency plans in advance, so if a rainstorm dampens your hiking plans, you’ll know you’re heading to the gym to walk uphill on a treadmill instead. Or if you find yourself staring at the contents of your fridge, you can remind yourself to close the door and walk to another room. 
  8. Stay flexible about what’s working and let your good self do the talking when times get tough.
  9. Embrace not just your goal, but your journey. There will be bumps in the road, but if cut yourself some slack, then get back on track, you will reach your destination.