It's resolution time, baby. But there's a big difference between humdrum promises you won't keep and commitments to change that result in a purpose-driven life. If you want the latter, ask yourself these questions.

1. Where am I vulnerable? Maybe this simply has to deal with a skill you could improve, or maybe it touches on really deep fears that connect to really painful experiences. Either way, a meaningful resolution doesn't just change something you don't like. It identifies where there's a weakness or fear, makes you stronger and improves your ability to face whatever's tough.

2. What are my principles and values? The world can give you all kinds of signals about what to do or how to be. But if you identify what you personally stand for, it's easier to make changes that still allow you to be true to yourself, and that will continue to have relevancy long after you start. It's also easier to clarify exactly how you intend to act on those concepts.

3. When have I experienced the most joy? It doesn't matter if the answer here jives with what other people expect for you. A good resolution will give you more opportunities to be in whatever circumstances make your heart sing.

4. Who will this influence and how? Yes, resolutions are about personal self-improvement. But you must consider the effect your change will have on others. Arguably, the more people who will see a positive benefit from your efforts, the better the resolution is.

5. How many areas of my life does the resolution connect to? When a goal connects to everything around you, it stays present at the fore of your mind all day, every day. And like a fly shakes up a whole spider's web when caught, resolutions that tie to many points have the most power to transform with minimal effort.

6. What can't I stop thinking about? This isn't always about having passion. Sometimes it's about recognizing that something, somehow, isn't working, the nagging, reoccurring sense that you're off. Putting your finger on those issues and making a plan to address them is bound to take a weight off your shoulders and free you for better things.

But of course, once you have the meaningful resolution set, you have to follow through. You'll have more luck if you follow these tips:

1. Be specific. Want to save money? Great! But how much? By when? What for? Details make goals seem more dissectible and, subsequently, offer a feeling of realistic proximity.

2. Find out what's involved ahead of time. It's easy to say you'll write a book until you realize that means long nights after work, time away from family as you draft, getting proposals rejected what seems like millions of times and defending your content to all kinds of trolls. If you do your homework and talk to people who have been around the block, you won't be blindsided and unexpectedly overwhelmed.

3. Account for what others are going to do. Want to lose weight? OK. But you'd better consider those catered office lunches or people staring as you huff and puff on the elliptical. You need to be comfortable with beating your own drum and have a plan of action in place against the negative effects of choices others make.

4. Call in the cavalry. Trying to change behaviors without a support network can be incredibly stressful and logistically difficult. Asking others to help you provides accountability and the chance to talk through it when you're tempted to quit.

No matter what meaningful resolution you might happen to come up with, be patient with yourself. You didn't get where you are overnight, and you won't move all the way to where you want to be overnight, either. One step at a time, one focused choice at a time, you'll get there.

Published on: Dec 27, 2018