• New Year’s Resolutions and Goals: A Simple and Proven Three-Step Plan to Make Them Actually Work

    2022 beach

    Welcome to 2022!

    So many of us are looking to quickly turn the page on 2021. Our family, like so many, has been touched by Covid.

    We didn’t congregate for the holidays because several in our family have various medical challenges. It was also an emotional struggle for us, like millions of other families, because we love to get together whenever we can…and this year was a real challenge for us. We felt sad, frustrated, and “so over it.”

    Some of us evaded the bug. Some didn’t, but we all survived.

    My heart goes out to you if you lost a loved one. I can’t even imagine…

    Well, 2021 is done. It’s over, although there are some lingering effects for almost everyone in the world. But there is good news!

    There is so much to look forward to, despite new variants. We have multiple vaccines, boosters, and therapeutics that are finally starting to come online. We are now beginning to figure out how to adjust to the new normal. Hopefully, the new normal this year will be better than last.

    Like almost all of us, I am definitely ready to make the leap forward into 2022!

    And as this year turns, it always gets me thinking about how I want to make this year different and the great list of things that I want to do once COVID-19 is under control (again).

    And that got me thinking about the different meanings of the word “resolutions” and another word, “goals.” They are often used interchangeably and, to an extent, I can see why. But I also think there are important differences between the two terms. Knowing the difference between the two of them and how to use them together is the secret.

    goals, resolutions, Dr. Gary Brown, therapy, LA therapist

    The truth is, by itself, I’ve never really liked the word “resolution.” For so many people, it’s laced with unmet, long-term, vague, or sometimes unrealistic goals. For example, I just decided that I’m going to run a marathon in March and will start training in February. It’s just plain too hard to maintain our motivation under these circumstances. This diminished enthusiasm is probably one of the main reasons research shows that more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken.

    When vague, resolutions can look like, “I want to be closer to people.” That’s a truly nice resolution to focus on but what does being close to people really mean to you? What does being close to people actually look like? What does it feel like? How do you know if you accomplished it? For me, the answer lies in making one or more resolutions, setting specific goals, and establishing a time to complete each goal. Why?

    The word “goals” has more of a sense of being a specific target that is realistically achievable within a defined amount of time. A goal requires action! A goal, by definition, requires a conscious intention to do something.

    So, if I state my resolution of wanting to be closer to people, then I simply start a list of goals to help bring my resolution to life. I have a simple three-step recipe:

    1. Make a Resolution. Determine what it is that you want, wish, need, or desire in your life. What is your resolve?

    Tip: Start off with small and easily achievable goals. This sets a pattern of success.

    2. Target Specific Goals. This will help you achieve your resolution. Be specific about your intention(s). Develop a detailed plan of action.

    Tip: Limit your specific major goals to no more than three to start the year. Many of us fail to implement our goals if we bite off more than we can chew!

    resolutions, goals, therapy, counseling, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist
    3. Establish a Timeline. When possible, give yourself a timeline in which to achieve your short and long-term goals. Setting a time to complete your goals is one of the proven and best ways to help with your own accountability. Doing this will significantly increase your chances of achieving your goals.

    Napoleon Hill once said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

    Tip: Ask a buddy (spouse, partner, friend, colleague) to help you be accountable.

    Tip: Reward yourself when you achieve your resolutions and goals!

    To help you out, here’s an example of my first and most important resolution for 2022, my goals, and an action plan to make it happen, including specific timelines, to meet my goals.

    My Resolution: I Want To Experience More Connection

    There is a great amount of research that clearly shows an increased emotional connection with ourselves and with others, can dramatically enhance our mental and physical well-being. A lack of personal and intimate connection will likely lead to a life of isolation and extreme loneliness. In short, we need each other. And after a year like we’ve just had, connection is more important than ever!

    For me, there simply is no more powerful experience than enjoying an emotional connection with people. It is a delightful, warm, and fulfilling experience. And the deeper the connection, the greater the experience of closeness. I naturally want more!

    connection, intimacy, couples, relationships, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    My Goals To Experience More Connection

    1. I am going to call a minimum of one person a week who I may not have actually talked to in real life for a very long time. Facebook doesn’t count. Neither does Instagram, Snapchat, texting, or email. This action item is logged into my calendar with two alerts.

    2. On each of my weekly phone calls, I am going to express gratitude to each person I talk with. I wrote an entire blog on this. It may not be a big thing to some, but so many people really like to know why we love them. It’s a small thing that can make a huge difference in someone’s life. That always feels good.

    3. I am going to reach out more and invite people on Facebook to have a phone conversation. If I don’t have their phone number, I’ll give them mine in a DM (no sense in putting this out publicly).

    To help facilitate this, I am going to go “radio silent” on Facebook for the first week in February. This action is going to prompt me to reach out to even more people.

    4. I am going to look over my “A-List” by Sunday, January 9th. My goal is to expand important relationships and specifically focus on people with whom I miss having contact. Intentionally choosing people who genuinely want more connection is my highest priority.

    5. I am going to add two more charities to which I donate. I have already picked one and will decide on the second one by the end of this week. You might ask why this is related to wanting to experience more connection. It’s simple; the more I give, the more I feel connected.

    charity, resolution, goals, Dr. Gary Brown, therapist

    6. I’m going to ask each person I talk to, “What specific thing(s) can I do to help support you in your life right now?” I genuinely want to know what they want, need, and desire. Again, this is such a simple thing to do and just asking this question lets people in my life know that I love and care for them. And this automatically leaves us both feeling closer and more connected.

    7. And, of course, one very specific thing I can also do to enhance connection, is to follow this specific goal: put down my electronic devices when talking with someone! Have you noticed how often you’re with others on an electronic device? Take a look at that blog post to learn some practical tips proven to help us all be more connected. You may find one or two that you also would like to take on and practice!


    I hope that my personal example of a single resolution and the goals to achieve it are helpful. You can apply this simple three-step model to virtually any change you want in your life. Be as specific as you can, be patient, think about the results you want in the short and long term, establish some initial timelines to help with accountability, and be flexible as life has a habit of throwing an occasional curveball! The pandemic has certainly highlighted this for all of us.

    This exercise is one of my very favorite things to do with my clients. They frequently tell me that they particularly enjoy this activity when they see what old and/or new and exciting things are really possible in their lives! If you would like help with your own resolutions and goals, give me a call to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to what we can do to help you achieve them.


    resolutions, goals, therapy, Dr. Gary Brown



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