What’s wrong with New Year’s resolutions? Is it because the word “resolution” has become associated with superficial, lofty goals that fade almost as quickly as our hangover from the New Year’s Eve celebration? Or could it be that there is simply no time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to do any serious goal-setting—given all the holiday parties, family obligations, and end-of-the-year work deadlines that must be met?

The answer is “yes” to both. The fact is New Year’s resolutions are a joke because we don’t take the time to do a thorough process of reflecting, assessing, transitioning, and goal setting. Instead, we latch on to any central theme that has been bothering us as of late and turn that into some sort of half-hearted resolution. Is it no wonder that 80 percent of people who make resolutions on the 1st of January fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day, according to Marti Hope Gonzales, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.

So what’s the alternative, you ask?

Let me answer that in two ways.

Your first alternative would be to turn the resolution process into a commitment process. This would require carving out some quality solo time to complete my complimentary workbook, New Years Resolutions That Stick!. The workbook comes with 30 thought-provoking questions about this past year and 30 thought-provoking questions about this upcoming year. This tested New Year’s process will help you come up with meaningful goals for 2013 as result of a thorough analysis of 2012. For your free workbook, go to www.greggiesen.com.

The second alternative is to follow the 4-Step process below; no downloads or workbook required.

Step 1: Take some "me" time and reflect upon these questions about this past year. Be sure to write down your responses.

1. What were your four biggest personal highlights and why?

2. What were your four biggest professional highlights and why?

3. What did you learn most about yourself this past year?

4. What were some of your biggest challenges and how did you handle them?

5. What, if any, regrets do you have?

Step 2: Take some "me" time and reflect upon these questions about this upcoming year. Be sure to write down your responses.

1. Based on this past year, what’s the best advice you could give yourself for 2013 and why?

2. What’s one thing you’d like to change most about yourself?

3. What unfinished business, if any, do you need to complete in 2013? What would that look like?

4. What could possibly prevent you from creating the year ahead that you truly desire? Is there anything you could be doing now to set yourself up to succeed? If so, what would that be?

5. In a year from now, what do you want to be able to say about this upcoming year in retrospect? What do you need to do to make that happen?

Step 3: Based on your insights from steps 1 & 2, identify all the things you are willing to commit to doing in the three areas below:

What I will continue to do in 2013:

What I will stop doing in 2013:

What I will start doing in 2013:

Step 4: For any goal or commitment to be successful, it is critical that you enroll others in your process; be it by sharing your insights and results from Step 3 or by doing this 4-step process together. Either way, select an accountability partner and share with them what you learned from Steps 1 & 2 and what you are willing to commit to in Step 3.

Lastly, I recommend creating a quarterly process for reviewing your commitments instead of the annual process. Our lives change so much on a day-to-day basis that goals and commitments can lose their meaning if not regularly checked and updated. This means getting together with your accountability partner four times. Are you up for that?

In conclusion, every year of your life is essentially a chapter in your own autobiography. Make your life a best seller by capturing as much as you can from each and every year. It will not only give you a greater sense of self, but it will undoubtedly make each successive year that much better.

Aren’t you worth it?

Author's Bio: 

Greg Giesen is president of Greg Giesen & Associates, a leadership development and coaching company out of Denver, Colorado. Giesen recently resigned as a 14-year graduate school professor at the University of Denver in order to pursue his passion of writing and speaking. He is the author of three books on Creating Authenticity, including his latest, Mondays At 3: A Story for Managers Learning to Lead. He blogs regularly for Vistage’s Executive Street and YourTango.com. In addition, Giesen facilitates the award-winning program, Leading From Within, an intensive, three-day personal empowerment workshop, and is producer and co-host of the Mondays At 3 talk radio show on Mile Hi Radio.