What's your New Year resolution? 

This is a question we've probably all heard since we were old enough to utter the words ‘Happy New Year’.

Indeed, the concept of New Year resolutions is a tradition nearly as old as time. Back in the medieval days, knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.

Here in Nigeria at the beginning of each year, New Year resolutions would dominate conversations in homes, schools, places of worship and of course, the workplace. People would reel out a list of their plans for the year, with the enthusiasm of a salesman about to make a sale. By month two, however, these resolutions would lay forgotten as the man who swore to lay off alcohol at the beginning of the year, would resume duty at his favourite neighbourhood joint, to the delight of Madam Elegance.

But like all things eventually, the New Year resolution tradition seems to be taking a back-burner. The ever-restless millennial generation appears to be gravitating away from this norm as quickly as they ditched their Facebook accounts.

To be clear, the intentions behind New Year resolutions are perfectly fine, but a resolution is nothing without actionable plans.

The good people at Oxford define a resolution as ‘a firm decision to do or not to do something’. So while it’s one thing to resolve to do, or not to do something, it’s another thing to take active steps towards achieving a resolution.

Simply put, it’s not enough to say, for instance, that one of your New Year resolutions is to make more money in 2018. How do you intend to make more money? What target have you set for yourself and in what time frame do you plan to achieve said target?  

So, a better approach would be to first determine a minimum amount of money to make in 2018 - say have a minimum of N500,000 by December 2018. The next thing would then be to determine how much money needs to be made monthly to achieve this goal by the set time-frame. Then identify how this money can be made - what skills or opportunities can one exploit to achieve this goal?

Also noteworthy, is the fact that goals should be documented somewhere, whether a notebook or electronic device. This way you can always track how far you've come.

Let's also not forget the problem of setting unrealistic goals, which is another major reason why people start to falter even before the first month of the year is over. We believe in the phrase 'Impossible is Nothing' as much as the next person, but brethren, let us be realistic. One can't, as a fresh graduate with no work experience, for instance, have 'get a job with N500,000 salary/month' as goal. Not only is this unrealistic, it's fool-hardy, at best.

When resolutions can be laid out as realistic goals, they're much more likely to be achieved than making blanket statements.

So as we settle into the new year, let’s not just resolve to do things, let’s set actionable goals to help us live the best version of our lives yet.

Also watch: Major Sporting Events That Shook The World in 2017