This Is The Only New Year's Resolution You Need To Make In 2016

And it has nothing to do with eating better or working out more.  

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Most New Year's resolutions are the same. Lose weight. Exercise more. Find a fulfilling career. However, by mid-March most of these resolutions have long since fallen by the wayside, and that's because there's only one thing you need to do this year to inspire real change in your life.  

Create a 5-year plan.

Creating a 5-year plan is making a promise to yourself to turn your goals into real, concrete action. While it may sound like an activity reserved solely for neurotic control freaks, planning out your future is something that can benefit anyone. Whether you want to one day rule the world of fashion blogging or save up enough money to go back to school, you need to map out a realistic way to get there. Here's how to do it.

1. Reflect.

Making a 5 year plan is a great opportunity to reflect on your life and figure out where it is you really want to be. To start the brainstorming process, grab a pen and paper and head to a quiet place where your mind can roam freely. What does your dream life look like? What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years? What do you really want to be doing? Don't edit yourself and don't let doubt creep in — just write.

2. Draft.

You're half way there! Now you just need to write down all of your goals and the steps that you think will get you there. Think about which goals are more important to you, and what you'd like to focus on versus things you wouldn't mind putting on the backburner. Create a timeline for completing each step and make sure it's realistic. You probably can't write your memoir in two weeks, but 6 months is a pretty reasonable timeline for a first draft.

3. Research.

The first step asks you to think about where you want to be, the second is mapping it out, and the third involves doing your homework. If one of your goals is to attend graduate school, you'll have to research which school you'd like to attend, as well as admissions and pricing info. Take the knowledge you've gained, edit your previously written steps if needed, and just like that, you're well on your way to having a bulletproof plan of action.

4. Check in frequently.

Whether your plan is written down on paper or saved safely on a flash drive, checking it frequently is a must. Reminding yourself of your goals and making sure you're on track, progress-wise, is essential. Reflecting on all the progress you've made is also a surefire way to keep your spirits up, so make sure your plan is well within reach should you ever need a quick burst of inspiration.

5 . Revise.

Let's be real: life is full of surprises, and most of them you won't be able to control. If you find your goals/priorities/opportunities changing, don't hesitate to edit your plan accordingly. The point of making and following a 5-year plan isn't to stifle your creativity or cause anxiety, but to inspire you to keep moving forward to achieve your dreams. You got this!
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