Many people take advantage of the New Year to set resolutions to stop bad habits or pick up good ones, and think they will be able to radically transform their lives. For some, it can be a very exciting time of hopefulness and thinking through what they can change about their lives.

However, many people’s resolutions do not stick, and people end up settling back into old routines, discouraged and feeling like a “failure.” That’s why it’s better, rather than making a resolution, to think about setting goals. Whereas a resolution is a hard and fast rule working on a surface issue, a goal is a more far-reaching, yet more achievable commitment to self-transformation.

To help you get started, here a few goals that might help you live a more complete life.

1. Cut yourself a break every now and again

Throughout the day, most people have a running internal dialogue. Everyone has emotions and memories, either coming from within or triggered by something outside that alter the way they see themselves and the world around them. This self-dialogue can often be extremely self-critical and harsh, and get in the way of your ability to enjoy life around you.

Practicing mindfulness is one important way to learn how to bring these thought under control, by bringing your attention back to the present moment, rather than carried away by thoughts or anxieties.  When an anxious thought comes, breath slowly to bring you attention back to the present moment.  Focus on something calm or joy inducing in the outside world and then speak truth to yourself. Practice speaking affirming truths to yourself, rather than beating yourself up.

2. Create routines that you can follow through with

Taking time to take care of your body and be healthy benefits more than your physical self. Your entire self is deeply connected, so having a healthy body will help with your emotional and physiological self too. One of the best ways to help your body is to make sure you get an adequate amount of:

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise

This can be accomplished by setting routines throughout the day in which you take time to make sure that you are caring for yourself. Some routines you might want to try are:

  • Setting a sleep schedule up where you are asleep by a certain time and awake by a certain time
  • Take 20 minutes every day to exercise
  • Stay in contact with friends and family
  • Clean your living space

Developing these simple routines can make a huge difference for your health.

3. Laugh!

It can be very easy to get bogged down in the mundane and stressful parts of life and ignore reasons you have to be grateful. Life can get overwhelming sometimes, so be sure to take time to take care of yourself.

Figure out what you can do to be happy, and then make that an important part of your schedule. Laughing and being happy renews your energy to keep living life, and is a vitally important part of what it means to be a healthy person.

4. Help Others

Helping others gives your life purpose and connects you to a community of people. Find opportunities to volunteer or be part of exciting organizations doing good in your community.  Or, you can simply reach out to those around you, and make yourself more available to friends.

Simply being able to listen to someone’s story, and offer your support and encouragement, can do an incredible amount of good.

5. Take the High Road

Yet at the same time, people can sometimes be very frustrating. Pay attention to when you feel irritated or frustrated or angry at someone else, and try to find ways to be calm, and respond with gentleness in that situation. The words you speak in a moment of cleverness or frustration could be very hurtful, so learn how to pause, and think about the impact before you speak.

These are just a few of the goals that can lead to you having a life filled with joy, healing, and gratefulness. But ultimately, you should be setting your own goals. Take some time to think about what is important to you and what you would really like to see changed about your life, and then work on crafting goals for your new year.

If you really commit to these goals, and work at breaking them down into manageable, positive steps, you may be very surprised at how deeply your life will be transformed.