Setting goals for a new year

Published by MAXSolutions on January 11, 2018
new year resolutions

The beginning of January is typically the time of year that people set goals for themselves.

You can set goals any time of year, but right now is when you might have some in mind. If you are needing some extra encouragement to adhere to your New Year’s Resolution; this could be the blog for you.

Former President of the USA Dwight Eisenhower said “plans are useless; planning is indispensable”. Research[1] has since provided backing for this, finding that if people make both action plans and coping plans they are more likely to achieve sustained behaviour change.


Action plan

If you plan how you are going to achieve your goal you are more likely to achieve it. And if you plan how you are going to cope with setbacks and challenges, you are more likely to overcome them.

For example, if your goal is to exercise five times a week (the World Health Organisation<[2] currently recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week), start by planning when, where and how you will exercise.

Then take some time to plan how to overcome obstacles such as illness, loss of motivation, inclement weather and injuries you are more likely still to succeed.


Coping plan

If you have managed to adhere to your New Year’s Resolution: Well done! You can increase the chances of your sustained success by developing coping plans to go with your action plans.

As Eisenhower’s quote suggests, it is important to be able to adapt your plans to emerging circumstances; such as having to travel for work, or illness of a family member.

Hence the plan itself needs to be able to change and planning for contingencies in an ongoing way is indispensable.


If you have drifted from how much you were hoping to have achieved by now; re-engage with your intentions.

  • What did you want to achieve and why?
  • How will you achieve your goal?
  • Where will you do it?
  • When?

Make sure you think of as many barriers to success as you can and think of how you can overcome them now.

Your EAP can help you find goals that are meaningful and achievable for you and help you plan how you can achieve them while overcoming inevitable barriers.

You can make an appointment by calling 1800 629 277 or by emailing



1. Sniehotta, F. F., Scholz, U., & Schwarzer, R. (2006). Action plans and coping plans for physical exercise: A longitudinal intervention study in cardiac rehabilitation. British Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 23-37

2. de Bruijn, G., Rhodes, R. E., & van Osch, L. (2012). Does action planning moderate the intention-habit interaction in the exercise domain? A three-way interaction analysis investigation. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35(5), 509-19. doi:


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