New Year’s resolutions are the epitome of an, “easier said than done” sort of ritual. After a holiday season filled with over indulgence, it’s only natural to feel to the urge to refocus. Yet, even with the best intentions, the pressure to improve in the new year can lead many of us to over-commit to the wrong things. After a short time researching resolution ideas across social media, your list of plans for the year ahead might wind up looking like this before too long:

  • Watch Less TV
  • Read More
  • Eat Healthier
  • Learn French
  • Find My Dream Job
  • Learn to Tango
  • Run a Marathon
  • Win the Nobel Prize

Whoa, that got ambitious real fast! Sure, it’s beneficial to have big hairy audacious goals, but it’s also important to root your ambitions in reality. Exaggeration aside, when looking at the bullet points above, it’s clear that the person with these New Year’s resolutions did not have a clearly defined focus when writing their plans. The list contains a wide variety of activities, from dancing to career development to extreme health goals, which may be valuable individually, but when taken together provide an unclear sense of self.

How, then, can those looking to improve in the new year better prepare before writing those resolutions? The key is self reflection. After all, how can anyone really identify areas of improvement without taking a thorough stock of self beforehand? Before jotting down goals, it’s important to address questions such as:

What motivates me?

Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10 years?

What would make me feel fulfilled, personally and professionally?

To get to the bottom of these big questions, here are three self reflection techniques to power your new year’s resolutions:

Behavioral or Personality Assessments

Have you ever taken a test online that asks you a bunch of questions then determines which character from a TV show or movie you are? Behavioral or personality assessments are just like that, but are much more expertly crafted to identify your skills, interests and personal drivers. They may be presented with multiple choice  (A, B, C or D) and Likert scale questions (‘on a scale of 1 to 5…’). However the questions are styled, they are designed by industrial-organizational psychologists to help job candidates and employers determine job matches based on key factors such as culture fit and work style.

Outside of giving you insight into your potential connection to a job, behavioral or personality assessments can give you a road map to what makes you…you! By using these tests to gauge your personality, motivations and desires, you’ll be able to use a scientifically created tool to guide your new year’s resolutions, in addition to just gut-feeling and outside advice.

Career Journaling

Keeping track of your thoughts is another task that is deceivingly difficult to accomplish when it’s not ingrained as a regular habit. However, the benefits of career journaling are numerous – especially when it comes time to craft your goals for the year ahead. As pointed out by Psychology Today, a career journals can be seen, “as a living project that carries throughout a person’s career span” and might include sections for inspiration and ideas around, “core values, skills/strengths, interests/hobbies, need and wants” and much more.

Try starting small by writing down a weekly recap. From there, you can expand into keeping track of your thoughts in a more detailed, organized fashion that fits your style. The notes you make on a regular basis could well become the foundation for the development of the goals you wish to achieve during the New Year’s planning frenzy.


In addition to using assessments and journaling to become better acquainted with your sense of self, seeking input from outside sources can also provide huge benefits at New yYar’s resolution time. Think of individuals in your life that have had a positive impact on your life and career; they can be professors, managers, coaches, colleagues and anyone that has provided meaningful guidance. These types of mentors can bring powerful insight to the table based on their experiences watching you work and strive to achieve goals.

Before committing to your new year’s resolutions, consider reviewing them with your mentors to see if they have any suggestions for you to consider. After all, these influential people in your life probably know you better than most, and can also act as professional references should opportunities arise.

New Year’s resolutions can be intimidating, but that’s no reason to over-commit to lofty goals. Avoid being overwhelmed this year by committing to self reflection! What are your tips for crafting the very best New Year’s resolutions this year? Share your suggestions in the comments below!