Goal-setting and resolutions time is upon us. With all that quality time spent with family and friends, you might be heading into the new year with more than a new electric wine opener. You might be loaded down with someone else's dreams for you. Whether it's something big like looking for a new job or something smaller about making an appearance at an upcoming event, the pressure is real.

It's more common than we think: We unconsciously take on other people's wishes for us. It can be difficult to tell the difference between something we want for ourselves and something a cherished friend or relative wants for us. We care about others and know that they care about us. Caring isn't the problem. It's adopting their aspirations for us without examining whether we actually want them. Unless they're obviously nagging, it can be hard to tell where your dreams stop and someone else's start.

If you're surrounded with well-meaning problem-solvers, you can quickly go from sharing your frustrations about your boss to being urged to find a new job. Your honest response to the common question, "how are you?" might unintentionally result in being urged to dump your boyfriend, go back to school, or move.

You don't have to dismiss other people's ideas out of hand. However, you should check them against your wishes, aspirations, lifestyle, and available time and money. You must keep in mind that many suggestions are given out love, but lack the big picture of what you and your life are actually like.

So before adding someone else's idea to your list of goals or resolutions for the new year, answer these questions.

  1. Is this something I actually want to do?
  2. How would achieving this goal fit with the other things I want in my life?
  3. Do I have the money or time needed to pursue it?
  4. What will come off my list if I do this?
  5. What does the person suggesting this get out of the deal? Does that matter?
  6. Why does the person suggesting this think it's such a good idea?
  7. If I do this, what logically comes next? And do I want that next thing?

Answering these questions before adopting a new goal or resolution will save you time, money, and the future frustration of realizing you never really wanted to achieve that goal anyway.

Suggestions from people who love us can be welcome input when we're feeling stuck or out of ideas. And that's it. Saying "thank you" and "I'll think about it" is a fair and appropriate response to advice from family and friends. This year, stay focused on what you know is best for you.

Published on: Dec 20, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.