Every year at this time we reflect on the past and contemplate what the future holds for us. Some think that 2012 will be our last. If that is true, what do we do about it? What do we do if it is not?

We’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past, only to break them within days, and we’ve heard it is better to not make them, better not to set out on something that is almost sure to fail.

Is it better to have no hopes and desires for the year? Is it better to expect the New Year to hold no promise of better things to come? A friend’s mother thought so. When I was a young man she told me “It’s better not to expect good things, because then you won’t be disappointed”. However, this method did not work well for her. She didn’t expect good things, got just what she expected, very few good things —and she was always disappointed!

New Year’s Resolutions are not the same as goals. Resolutions are vows, like vows to stop smoking or eating a certain food, or start exercising every day. With them, one breakdown breaks the vow and makes you a failure. New Year’s resolutions are a bad idea.

Goals are not the same. Goals are destinations to reach, and we reach destinations one step at a time. Most often, it is forward a bit and backward a bit, until we get more steps forward than backward. Real progress comes with persistence and we get in the habit of consistent forward motion. Most significant goals are not reached in a single step.

This year, instead of making resolutions that you know are destined to fail, sit down and put to paper what you’d like to have happen if your efforts produced the results you want.

* If you knew this would be your last year on earth, what would you want to make sure that happens, no matter what? Write it down.

* If you were to live to a ripe old age, what do you need to do this year, to make sure your ripe old age is as healthy and happy as possible? Write it down.

* Are there relationships to be made, relationships to be repaired? Unsaid things that need to be said? Write them down.

* Are there things you’ve loved doing that you haven’t been doing? Singing, dancing, painting, gardening, hobbies, going to clubs and organizations you’ve liked? Write them down.

* Are there trips you’d like to take, or a vacation long overdue? Write it down.

* Are there good things you haven’t let yourself have because you’ve not felt ready or deserving? Maybe you’re ready. If you make efforts at the right things, you absolutely are deserving. Write it down.

* If you were to pay attention to all your needs, body, mind and spirit, what would you have yourself do? Write it down.

Don’t be vague about what you’d like in your life. Admit your desires and goals. Write them down. Usually, the only things that happen by accident are accidents. So, be clear. Identify where you’d like to go. Expect some good things. Maybe you’ll get lots. Imagine life unfolding for you this year in better ways than ever before. You’re older, wiser, moving forward in time and life, toward new potentials that are your birthright, a creative being in a creative world. Make a list and put it in a safe place.

Now, take this list of dreams out every once-in-a-while to review and dare to imagine them happening. Think of what you can do this month and this week to help bring them about. Let your heart desire what it needs and let it get excited about tomorrow. Celebrate every step forward. Respond to any reverses with renewed intent until moving forward becomes the entrenched habit.

Forget about making resolutions and forget about testing yourself in some contest you don’t really care about. Dare to imagine doing the things that are really important to you. Imagine a power within you that can kindle the flames that bring them to reality. Regardless of what happens in 2012, make sure you don’t miss out.

P.S. Please make reading my book, The Anderson Method, one of your first goals!

Author's Bio: 

William Anderson, MA, LMHC, is a licensed psychotherapist residing in Sarasota, Florida, specializing in weight control. He is the author of the revolutionary new weight loss self-help book, The Anderson Method (Two Harbors Press, 2009, $14.95), and he is training a growing network of licensed therapists in his successful weight loss program. Anderson developed his approach when, as a behavior therapist, he permanently lost 140 pounds over 20 years ago after 25 years of diet and exercise failure. More information can be obtained at http://www.TheAndersonMethod.com