Resolutions and setbacks

Write down what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it and what a milestone would look like. -
Write down what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it and what a milestone would look like. -


Every year I make resolutions for the new year but by the middle of the year I find that I have not upheld any of them. Can you give me some advice on how to successfully approach resolutions in 2020?

The Resolutionalist

Dear Resolutionalist,

Every year we battle with new year's resolutions and the feelings attached to breaking and or not upholding any of them.

The dictionary defines resolutions as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” There are differing opinions on whether or not resolutions for the new year are essential. In my opinion, however, given this definition, we make resolutions every day.

Whether we make a firm decision not to shop at a particular store anymore or even if we decide to save toward a major purchase in the future, these decisions require appropriate action in order for them to come to pass.

In other words, for resolutions to work, they must be aligned to clear defined goals. So, before making any resolutions for 2020, ask yourself what you want and where you see yourself in the next five, ten and 20 years.

Your resolutions should be your small goals in line with achieving your major five, ten and 20 year goals, so start small but also, be clear and direct.

For instance, let’s say that you have a health issue that requires you to lower your weight by 50 pounds by the year 2025, then consider losing ten pounds every year starting from 2020. This is a more practical approach to weight loss in 2020 as it is in alignment with a specific goal in the future (50 pounds lighter by 2025).

Similarly, if your future goals are along the lines of your career and or professional development, consider where you see yourself professionally in the next 20 years and work back to where you need to be by the end of 2020.

That way, you can design a list of accomplishments in alignment with your major 20 year goal. This gives you a year to continuously track your progress and figure out what works best and what your shortcomings are professionally.

Identifying these shortcomings and ways to improve upon them at the end of 2020 can then feed into your goals for the following year as this would help you keep on track for your major 20 year goal.

In considering all of these things, the question still remains, how do you keep track of your goals and your progress as the year goes by?

1. The first step would be to keep a journal: Write everything down. What you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it and what a milestone would look like. This can be done on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or on an ad-hoc basis. The aim is to break down the 2020 goal into small, manageable accomplishments that can be achieved throughout the year.

2. Quantify the milestones: Consider how you would measure your small accomplishments. For instance, is there a monetary value attached to your future goal? Then, what would that figure look like after the first quarter of 2020? Perhaps it is the completion of a course or other professional certification. Perhaps the completion of two modules by April 2, 2020 would be a specific enough achievement toward the accomplishment of your goal. Whatever the goal, add a value to it so that your progress can be measured.

3. Remain focused: Setbacks and upsets are a natural part of life and progress. What ensures success is perseverance and focusing on your goals. In moments of despair, remember why you set upon your journey in the first instance and consider how much giving up would hinder your progress. Always remember your why.


4. Celebrate the small victories: Find ways to reward yourself whenever you accomplish a milestone. This would make you feel good and give you motivation to accomplish your other goals on your list. Celebrating victories also serve as a great way to combat the feelings of despair during the periods of setbacks.

Let’s resolve to a new approach to resolutions in 2020 by aligning them to major goals in the future. Remember to start considering what we want the next few years of our lives to look like and create smaller goals in 2020 that align with the accomplishment of these goals.

Remember, keep it simple!


AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. ASK AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by AFETT director of Research and Public Advocacy, Jeane Warner. Learn more about AFETT at, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at (868) 343-2160. Email us your career-related questions at

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, meant strictly as advice and guidance, based upon their experience and expertise. In no way are they meant to be legally binding upon AFETT and or its members, servants nor agents.


"Resolutions and setbacks"

More in this section