As the new year unfolds, many of us are determined to make this one of the best years yet—especially coming off the rollercoaster of the most recent pandemic-ridden years (will this ever end?).
So even though data indicates that many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by January 19, it’s worth revisiting those goals and coming up with a plan to make them happen.
To break the cycle of setting and forgetting New Year’s resolutions (or goals of any kind!), we tapped into the Dreamers & Doers collective to learn about the strategies 38 women have used to set big goals and see them through.
It’s fun to dream big, but the advice shared below is an important reminder that any important target must find the balance between ambitious and realistic to ensure long-term success.
CEO and founder of Access79, a tech-enabled marketplace and try-before-you-buy service that puts women at the center of the fine jewelry shopping experience.
My strategy: Make a New Year’s resolution list that includes no more than four goals. For each, list the exact metric for success. Under each goal, write out five steps or tactics you need to take to meet your goal. Third, find a tween to hold you accountable on both your resolution and your tactics. I recommend tweens because they still have the brutally honest characteristics that young kids possess, yet they also have more adult-like evaluation and judgment skills than younger kids.
My advice: Pat yourself on your back for having resolutions to begin with and for taking the time to craft them thoughtfully and setting yourself up for success. Also, if you can, start early in crafting your resolutions. Start reflecting on key things in July and put pen to paper in October and refine in December. You want to start on January 1 ready to go!
Co-founder of Bace Health, a research-based cannabinoid health and wellness company.
My strategy: I really take my time indexing what went well this year, what didn’t go as well as I planned, and the actions I took. From there, I journal and let my mind marinate on what I truly want to accomplish in the coming year. Once I’m clear on that, I set quarterly goals and organize my months according to those goals.
My advice: Take it slow and get very, very clear on what you actually want. Everything flows from there.
CEO and founder of Veneka, a capsule wardrobe styling service curating sustainable, ethical, and cruelty-free brands.
My strategy: I start with a long-term vision board. I make this a creative process that requires a day of deep thinking, journaling, and contemplation. Armed with the truth of what I want my life to look like in five to 10 years, I work backward. I set annual, monthly, and weekly goals. I journal every week to reflect on my progress and adjustments I need to make. I keep my vision board in front of me and ensure that I am constantly staying close to my inner truth.
My advice: Create a vision for the most true and beautiful version of your life, and work backward from there.
Founder and CEO of Lee London, a consumer tech marketplace filled with hard-to-find, new, and under-marketed tech-enhanced goods.
My strategy: I make a goal map on Google Slides each year. For the next year, I type four big goals into color-coordinated circles across the top of a slide. I add a second row of shapes on the slide, which communicate the supporting tasks toward the main goals. At the bottom of the slide, I add a third row of smaller tasks that support the shapes in the middle row. As the year progresses, it feels great to adjust each task from green to yellow to red, as it is completed.
My advice: Break down the big goal into bite-size actions. This gives you a sense of achievement early on, which can energize you to keep working toward the ambitious resolution.
Co-founder and CEO of SoulWell, a digital wellness platform connecting next-gen communities of color to culturally competent practitioner-led holistic care.
My strategy: Write your resolution down, speak it, and believe it. I’ve found that setting clear intentions each year about how I want to feel, the experiences I want to have, and how I want to show up for myself and others helps me to dream a bigger dream and hold myself accountable to the journey.
My advice: Be flexible and keep the faith. We set the intention and then we have to let the magic happen. Life is full of surprises, and when we learn to embrace this instead of fearing it, we create space for all good things to find us.
Co-founder and CEO of Keep or Toss, a social voting app to help you organize your closet.
My strategy: I always found it difficult to stick to my resolutions until I started setting a theme for the coming year instead of one specific resolution. Throughout the year, I use the theme to check in on my decisions. It becomes easy to keep focused on the goal that you set at the beginning of the year because it’s all about making consistent choices that support your goals.
My advice: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be realistic so that you don’t feel too much pressure or anxiety to accomplish something that might not happen in a year. Keep your head down, do the work, create your own luck, and stay focused.
Founder and CEO of Petminded, a community for dog parents seeking science-backed advice, education, and services to provide great care for their pups.
My strategy: My top strategy for achieving new goals is setting aside time to reflect on the past year. This exercise helps me understand what worked and what didn’t. Then I can be super intentional about why I am creating a new resolution, how to make it easy to achieve, and how to pivot if life gets in the way.
My advice: It’s great to aim high, but important to break every goal into achievable steps so it doesn’t get overwhelming. In addition, if you don’t stick to the goal for a few days, it can feel very defeating. It’s better to get back to it ASAP rather than spending time ruminating on it.
Co-founder of Caveday, dedicated to improving people’s relationship to work by facilitating daily focus sessions for a global community.
My strategy: First, identify four or five categories that you’d like to focus on in the upcoming year. Next, in each category, zoom out and list broad and big goals. The next step is to zoom in and break down each of those broad goals into specific definitions. The final step is to take action.
My advice: Define and create actionable tasks, and set up an accountability system. It’s much easier to achieve ambitious goals if they’re clearly defined and you have a support system in place to help keep you on track.
Founder and CEO of The Reflective, providing an elevated and attainable product curation for the modern modest woman.
My strategy: Do not shy away from setting a resolution that seems far away and out of reach. Rather, break down your goal into tangible micro goals. For example, if your resolution is to find a true work-life balance, create a micro goal of giving yourself 10 nights a month to do something that fulfills you. Then create a punchcard with 10 circles for the month and punch it out each time you take a night off. This will give you a physical representation of your progress and motivate yourself to stick to your goal.
My advice: Find a friend to partner with so you feel accountability toward someone else. Then you can work on encouraging each other and checking in weekly so your goals don’t fall to the wayside when life and work gets hectic.
Founder and CEO of Serenflipity, an adventure game that helps people get out of their comfort zones and try new things in everyday life.
My strategy: Turning a resolution into an experiment creates a sense of possibility and creativity for meeting goals. I choose an experiment to focus on for 90 days at a time, since behavioral science shows us that it takes 90 days to build a new habit. I started my business this way, and I discovered that it made my attitude more adventurous and collaborative.
My advice: I would suggest reframing a resolution into an experiment. This invites an attitude of learning, playfulness, and creativity that can lead to long-term habits versus a quick fix.
Founder and CEO of Chuan Skincare, an affordable, hand-crafted skincare line made from all natural ingredients.
My strategy: Figure out how to keep yourself accountable. Some people are more intrinsically motivated to accomplish a goal, while others, like me, need to be motivated by deadlines and commitments to others. Once you figure out your accountability style, you’ll be able to set yourself up for success in achieving your ambitious resolutions.
My advice: When you’re setting your resolutions, keep in mind that they should be somewhat flexible. Don’t bite off more than you can chew!
Founder of Cortland Consulting, a brand strategy and digital marketing studio specializing in consumer packaged goods brands.
My strategy: When I started as a solopreneur in 2018, I began taking myself on a mini, annual company retreat. During that day I block out time to think of the big picture and set goals for both myself and my business for the coming year. Having that space to reflect on the past year and set resolutions for the coming year is incredibly valuable to me.
My advice: Keep your resolutions somewhere you can see them and schedule check-ins with yourself. For me the visual reminder and accountability is a really helpful way to dedicate a few minutes toward a bigger goal rather than a few minutes of mindlessly scrolling.
Head of Community at Grid110, a nonprofit and startup accelerator that provides entrepreneurs with access to community, mentors, and critical resources.
My strategy: Focus on one big goal at a time and set goals in three-month increments. When you try to focus on more than one goal at once, they can be challenging to complete. Research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals when we plan them out in shorter increments. This makes sense because it feels like less time when you break the year down into smaller chunks.
My advice: The first few days of the new year can be exhilarating as you begin to write down your goals. But as time passes, your excitement for those goals can quickly dwindle as you realize they are far more difficult than you initially imagined. Instead of trying to crush your resolutions all at once, I suggest setting your goals in three-month increments and having multiple check-in points throughout that time to keep yourself accountable!
Monica M. Rivera
Founder of YOU WANNA DO WHAT?!, a consultancy and podcast that guides Gen-X women of color to take their business idea from stuck to start.
My strategy: Devise a reward system for yourself. Did you know that most people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions by January 17? That’s less than three weeks after the new year. Rise above this downer of a stat and set up your first reward at the 21-day mark. This not only gives you something to look forward to, but you can celebrate making it past the day they said you’d quit.
My advice: A cake comes together one ingredient at a time and your goals are no different. Focus on the process—that’s how a goal is achieved.
Founder and designer of Twentysome Design, a feminist stationery company featuring hand lettered designs.
My strategy: Once I have a goal, I like to break it down into monthly, weekly, and daily action items and milestones. Checking off these mini resolutions as you go helps you to see the progress and get things done.
My advice: Take the time to really lay out how that resolution is feasible and will happen. Think about it in terms of dollars earned per week, minutes practiced per day, etc. Write down all of these small goals on your way to the resolution and mark them off as you go.
Founder of The Female Founders Lab, a virtual accelerator for ideas that can transform industries to become more regenerative, sustainable, holistic, democratic, and just.
My strategy: For me, the new year is an energetic reset point where I get to set into place new habits that will sustain my dreams and visions for the long term. I truly believe that if you can master micro-habits, the rest of your life falls into place. Great things are never rushed or forced. So, rather than setting a specific outcome-based goal, I decide my “identity” for the new year. Then, I create a spreadsheet where I document one micro-step I took while embodying that identity every single day.
My advice: Remember that there is such a thing as divine timing and divine process/plan. You can’t always control the outcome. Your role in this is to center yourself daily in the identity of who the highest version of you is, and to take micro-steps every day embodying that identity.
Founder of Developing Empathetic Education with Dana (DEED)®, propelling children and adults through rich social and emotional learning in order to create the world they crave.
My strategy: Instead of resolutions, I believe in designing purposeful intentions that create space for actualizing ambitious visions. I start with a brain dump, pouring out every possibility, need and want that reinforces my “why” on a large piece of paper. Next, I circle essential ingredients that must be implemented immediately, followed by ranking critical points that enrich the fluidity of my process. Most importantly, I remind myself that each step is taken with ease and flow because I intend to stay the course regardless of how long the journey takes.
My advice: When designing your ambitious vision, ensure all participants are clear on your unwavering why. The focus then remains on process and purpose instead of how or when accomplishments will occur.
Lori Sussle Bonanni
Founder of elssus, LLC, a multi-disciplined communications consulting firm.
My strategy: Instead of making resolutions at the start of the year, I now make two to three resolutions each quarter. This approach allows me to build onto my resolutions throughout the year. And if something isn’t working, I can adjust appropriately.
My advice: Be kind to yourself. If it’s not working, it’s OK. You can always revisit later in the year. Or, if you’re like me, there are other resolutions to focus on.
Founder of Green Atlas Consulting, a consulting company focused on empowering companies to understand, integrate, and deliver on their ESG investment goals.
My strategy: I usually start formulating my resolutions by taking a few hours alone to write on where I want to be this time next year. I focus on where I want to be professionally, both physically and emotionally, and what success feels like in that moment in the future. From there, I plan out the things I need to achieve in order to reach that future and the challenges that may appear along the way. Oftentimes the steps themselves are overly ambitious, so I have to prioritize and drill down into what I can accomplish. But having in mind the long-term goal of those steps makes them feel more real and doable.
My advice: Be kind to yourself but do not doubt your ability to make amazing things happen. Ambition can take many forms and it’s important to think clearly about the things that energize you. Those will be the goals that are easier to work toward, even if they are harder to accomplish.
Founder of She Plans to Profit, helping women business owners get financially organized to empower their decision making.
My strategy: Being busy makes us seem more productive, so I think we have become addicted to it. You must schedule time with the most important person who can help you achieve your goals—you! Take the time to schedule three important tasks that you have neglected.
My advice: If you want to achieve your goals, don’t choose more than three. Choose three easy to remember goals and take five to 15 minutes to work on each of them daily. Over time repetition becomes second nature and will pay off in the long run.
Dr. Melissa Barker
Founder and CEO of The Phoenix Project, a caring digital community that supports mental health and wellness—anywhere, anytime.
My strategy: First I want to normalize that we have been living in a place of collective trauma and there is no real end in sight. This has an impact on the way our bodies and minds process things—even something as simple as setting resolutions is impacted. One way I have mastered this form of trauma healing is to get so busy I can’t even begin to feel where I am. But at some point along this path, you can no longer outrun your trauma. When that happens, meet yourself where you are from a place of self-compassion and love. Healing is the bravest and hardest work you will ever do and is worthy of celebration.
My advice: When you find yourself in the space of ambition, move slow, take it easy, and hold intentional space for rest.
Entrepreneur in residence at Inclusive Capital Collective (ICC), a network that aggregates and deploys capital to entrepreneurs of color so that they can build wealth in their communities.
My strategy: I treat my goals with the same level of diligence as I would a client’s targets. I follow an annual process that has a clearly delineated path for success, including a purpose statement, a set of goals, action statements, and deadlines.
My advice: Prioritize yourself. Annual planning is a commitment born from the belief that we deserve to carve out the time and reap the benefit of energy that we often don’t reserve for ourselves. Treat it like you would any personal care routine, not like a forced homework assignment.
CEO of Tend Task, a platform that leverages technology and behavioral science to help couples divide household labor more equitably.
My strategy: I like to categorize my thinking around goals. What are the areas in my life that need the most support? Pick one topic to focus on at a time and get very clear on the outcome you’re trying to achieve. Once you’ve selected a category and goal, break that down into small, manageable tasks. Build a spreadsheet or use a task management tool like Asana to set deadlines and lay out a clear path to success.
My advice: Be realistic and be kind to yourself. We’re living in particularly difficult times and sometimes we are not going to have the space and energy we need to move forward on our goals. Give yourself grace and get back to it when you’re able.
Sydney Sherman Arenas
CEO and co-founder of Montie & Joie, an ethical homegoods and fashion brand started in Kenya and Guatemala.
My strategy: Anyone can aim for the stars. Once you aim and know what you want, the real journey begins. To accomplish your resolutions, your focus must be on being real and giving back to your community. If your company is making an impact and creating value, your community will launch you to accomplish what you resolved.
My advice: Aim high, but have clear actionable steps within a path to take you there. Small victories toward your goal are key encouragements that let you know you’re on your way. But be flexible with your plan.
Founder of I’m All Courage, a school for women and vuvla-bodied people to heal, reclaim sexual power, and untame, so that we can heal the systems that tamed us in the first place.
My strategy: Practicing decolonized manifesting has revolutionized how I set goals and guide my clients into achieving their wildest dreams. The best strategy is to create an internal ecology for thriving and bring in sexual and sensual pleasure to fill the process with feminine radiance, confidence, and play.
My advice: Decolonized manifesting and creating an internal ecology for thriving also includes examining your inner child, familial, societal dynamics or systems of oppression you’ve internalized. Some of what you’ll uncover are mindset blocks. My advice is to combine your mindset work with pleasure. When you activate your primal brain in sensual or sexual pleasure and repeat your affirmations around your resolution, you reprogram your nervous system into a new state of bliss, confidence, and power to take the right action.
Founder and CEO of Innata Style, helping rising women act confidently in life and work by elevating their personal image.
My strategy: My strategy is called “flexible consistency.” Instead of having an all-or-nothing approach to achieving your resolutions, “flexible consistency” is about bouncing back and making progress by keeping at it over the long term.
My advice: Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule. If you don’t have the energy to run your planned three miles, just run one mile instead. Being flexible and reducing the scope will make it easier to stick to your resolution than completely skipping a session.
Co-founder and CEO of Italic Type, a platform that helps readers to organize and prioritize the books in their lives.
My strategy: Everyone has their go-to time suck. My top strategy to set and accomplish ambitious resolutions is to identify the thing in your life that is taking up unnecessary time. Commit to replacing that habit with actions that will help you achieve your ambition.
My advice: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Ask yourself what the purpose of your resolution is. In the case of someone setting an ambitious goal for the number of books they want to read, setting a numeric goal is a helpful guide, but the point is not really to read exactly 30 or 50 or 100 books. Rather the point is to simply read more books. And if the number motivates you to do just that, but you fall short of the exact number, take it in stride. The spirit of the resolution was still accomplished. Numbers are just arbitrary markers, not the goal in and of themselves.
Founder of The Entrepreneurial Soul LLC, coaching for high achievers, executives, and entrepreneurial souls, empowering them to take ownership of their life.
My strategy: Tune into your why and the how, and get clear on what it would mean to you personally to accomplish this resolution. Visualize it, create a vision board, and write a letter to yourself from the future. Find someone you trust to help keep you accountable to your goals—a mentor, a coach, or a support network—with equally ambitious goals for themselves.
My advice: Keep your list of resolutions short. Focus on slow and gradual change to set yourself up for success with achievable action steps to get you to your ultimate goal.
It takes time to create a new habit. Even if you have setbacks along the way, the practice of repeating your new rituals is still helping you to form new neurological pathways in your brain until it becomes habitual.
Antoinette Alexander Adefela
Founder and CEO of Exp.Design LLC, a creative learning agency that partners with training teams to design and develop unique custom learning solutions.
My strategy: I start with reviewing the previous year’s goals and evaluate what has been accomplished and identify the areas of need. Then, I break my goals down in different categories: sales and marketing, content, learning and development, and associations and networking. From those areas, I’ll make a reasonable list of three to five items to accomplish and how they will be measured. I write this goal in my project management tool and add the dates to a calendar which I can access on my desktop or mobile app.
My advice: Share your goals with an accountability partner so you both can share your wins and push each other to reach those goals.
Founder of Femme Hive, supporting young female professionals in their 20s to feel less overwhelmed about successfully navigating the transition from college to the real word.
My strategy: I always visualize my biggest goals, which increases the likelihood that I am going to put in the work it takes in order to turn my visualized outcomes into reality. Visualization is my process of getting my mind and body ready for what I want to achieve, which then leads to ruthless execution.
My advice: People always overestimate what they can achieve in one year but they severely underestimate what they can achieve in five or ten years. If you show up consistently and remain patient with yourself, your daily efforts will compound over time and turn into something beautiful.
Founder of THEPRBAR Inc., an online coaching platform and PR resource hub.
My strategy: You want to set specific, yet realistic goals that are quantifiable and measurable. From there, identify and address any mental roadblocks or fears attached to said goals. Next up, outline an action plan. I always suggest starting by listing high-level to-dos, then breaking down your list into specific micro-actions. Finally, setting up a personal accountability structure is paramount.
My advice: Don’t skip the much needed mindset work involved in goal setting. Limiting beliefs can quickly squash ambitious goals.
Founder of MW Projects LLC, a cultural production and art advisory firm.
My strategy: Contextualize your goals. I believe it’s important to reflect on the past year before setting specific goals for the one ahead. Once I do write down those goals, I block off time in my calendar every quarter to revisit my goals, tweak them, reprioritize them, and ask myself whether I can go bigger.
My advice: Give yourself room to dream. Your goals can be incremental resolutions, big, hairy, audacious goals, and anything in between. I really like a free download called “Year Compass,” which guides you through learning from the past, dreaming about the future and executing your ambitious resolutions.
Founder of Marissa Pick Consulting LLC, providing strategic consulting focused on digital transformation, content marketing, social media strategy, personal branding, and more.
My strategy: Tell someone! Telling someone you know about your goals can help to increase the likelihood that you will stick to them. I often sit with my husband in the evenings and tell him about the resolutions I’ve set. I find just having an open conversation can help me stay on track to getting there or prioritize what’s needed to get there and achieve success.
My advice: Be realistic. Life is crazy, change is constant, and you need to ask yourself what you will do when life gets in the way. This seems like the underlying theme over the past two years: whatever we plan, life gets in the way. People are much more likely to reach a goal if they plan for what to do when things go wrong.
Global lead and new business verticals at Uber Technologies, reimagining the way the world moves for the better.
My strategy: Define inputs, not outputs; intentions, not attentions. Ask what it means to step into your most sovereign, fulfilled, ablaze self. Then, set your resolutions by the behaviors of that self, rather than achievements for that self.
My advice: What would you do if you were unafraid? Dare to be dangerous in the intentions you set for your new year. Use your resolutions to reflect and project the sources of power that are innate within you. Where your intention goes, energy flows.
My strategy: Don’t set New Year’s resolutions at all. Small habits build on themselves into big change, and each little improvement requires just a little motivation to start. Waiting for an arbitrary date to make a single, sweeping change is bound to fail.
My advice: Set yourself up to succeed! The secret is to find ways to enjoy the actions and tasks that go into the change you want. The more you enjoy each task, the more you’re going to do the things, and the closer to your goal you’ll naturally find yourself.
Founder and CEO of Lis Best Coaching for Impact, the secret weapon for women who are changing the world.
My strategy: My favorite strategy is taking a page out of Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map, and figuring out how I want to feel in the new year. Specifically, I find it helpful to hone in on three to five words that describe the energy I want to bring into a new year. Then I write them everywhere: on Post-Its, on my bathroom mirror, etc. Once I’ve gotten clear on my words for the year, I set resolutions that support them. The last step is identifying one or more accountability buddies who know what my resolution is and who I can share the journey with.
My advice: I’ve also found it really helpful to make the feeling the goal. So often we accomplish really big things, but we don’t feel the way we thought we would feel when they happen. When you make the feeling the goal, you can do things every day that reinforce that feeling and you can enjoy all the steps leading up to achieving your resolution.
Founder and CEO of Ossa, a women’s podcast network and ad booking platform on a mission to increase the visibility, influence, and earning power of women in podcasting.
My strategy: When developing my New Year’s resolutions, I create a list of my audacious goals for the year and commit to achieving them. Then, I include this list in my gratitude journal every morning as if they have already been accomplished. It’s a potent form of manifesting, as I can visualize how I feel when achieving my goals.
My advice: You should be passionate about these resolutions and determine why they matter to you. Can you dedicate the time and energy to making these resolutions a reality? If you want to achieve your goals, you need to believe in them on a visceral and emotional level.
Founder and CEO of BetterMe, a behavioral healthcare company with 100 million users all over the world.
My strategy: First of all, I define my own desires and goals and clearly separate them from the ones imposed by society or trends. I believe that people more eagerly accomplish resolutions that are based on their own needs. Another important step is measuring progress. This is a solid foundation on which you can build resolutions that won’t fail. Last but not least, I celebrate achievements, no matter how big or small they may seem.
My advice: Accept your current situation as is and clearly define what you would like to change. Analyze how reachable your resolutions are within your expectations and deadlines. Dream big with both feet on the ground.