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Tips from experts make this the year you want.

This year, don’t just set a New Year’s resolution. Give yourself a better shot at becoming a happier, healthier and more satisfied you with a little introspection, reflection and planning.

We asked four top experts in the areas of physical, mental and spiritual health for their advice on preparing for and creating personal change. How do they set new goals for themselves and plan for the coming year?

Here’s what they said:

Danielle LaPorte

Inspirational speaker, blogger and author of several books on conscious goal setting and entrepreneurship, including “The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul” and the forthcoming “White Hot Truth”

On creating space by clearing your to-do list: I think one of the most important things to start doing before you do anything else is create a stop doing list. It’s just as crucial for your success as goals. If we just stopped doing stuff that isn’t working, that weighs us down and makes us feel emotionally heavy, things that we resent or that feel like a heavy obligation, we are more than halfway there.

One of the mistakes we make is we don’t clear our plate. We want to bring all these passion projects in, but there is no place for them to fit. They are competing with all these obligations and goals that you have outgrown. Your body knows before your mind what’s lighting you up and what’s making you feel stuck, angry and heavy.

So if it feels like an obligation, get it off your plate, from that parent-teacher association meeting that you don’t really want to attend to the socializing you don’t want to do. Why finish a movie you’re not loving?

Set goals around how you want to feel: Culturally, we have a really messed up relationship with goal setting. We can live our entire adult life chasing goals and dreams that don’t belong to us.

Go through your life and consider what you are grateful for and get really specific about why you are grateful for it. What are you dissatisfied with and how does that you make you feel? In this, there is massive clarity. Get clear on your core desired feelings … feeling connected, energized, in the flow, lit up or strong … and think about what you need to do to generate those feelings and put them on your goal planner and in your business objectives.

If you’re halfway to a goal and realize the process is not lighting you up and the goal has lost its luster, just stop. Winners know when to quit.

Heidi Powell

Fitness transformation specialist, blogger, co-author with husband Chris Powell of “Extreme Transformation: Lifelong Weight Loss in 21 Days” and mother of four

Setting goals and intentions: On New Year’s Eve, our family and friends gather at our home to discuss how the last year went and talk about what we’d like to change for the upcoming year. We then write our thoughts and resolutions (as many or as little as we would like) on lanterns that we light and send up into the sky at midnight.

We are, in essence, sending our intentions out to the universe. We are making commitments to something so much bigger than ourselves because we all know silent commitments are broken promises waiting to happen. Not only do we rely on our friends and family around us to hold us accountable, but we also know the universe (and God) is watching and cheering us on, too.

One of the coolest parts of this ritual is helping the kids participate. They seem so young (ours are 11 all the way down to 3), but they are never too little to start making small promises to themselves.

Chris and I take time to reflect on the past year and dream about the year to come in multiple ways each New Year’s: individually, as a couple, as a family, and with friends and those we coach. We know the value of having goals and setting a plan to implement. We reflect on:

  • What did we do well in the past year?
  • What could we have done better?
  • Did we reach the goals for the year?
  • Are we on track to reach our goals that spanned beyond the year?
  • If so, what do we need to do next year to stay on track?
  • If not, why? Where did we go wrong?
  • What lessons did we learn from our failures this last year?
  • What lessons did we learn from our successes?
  • How are we behaving in our lives, both personally and as family members? What needs to change?
  • Is our family unit and marriage in a healthy place?
  • Are we living up to our potential? Or could we do better?
  • Are we living in a way that we can be proud of ourselves when we are on our death bed?
  • What NEW goals do we have for the upcoming year?
  • What is it going to take to reach them?
  • How can we help those around us reach their goals as well?

The one thing I would add to this is that the goals we choose MUST be one (or something) we are passionate about. If passion doesn’t exist, the goal will not be reached. End of story.

Tony Horton

Fitness trainer, developer of Beachbody workouts P90X and 22 Minute Hard Corps, and author of “The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life

On doing less to have more: I no longer say yes to everything with the expectation that it’s all going to work out. These days, I’m very selective and specific about how I train, whom I work with and how I spend my downtime.

My workouts are less about weights and cardio and more skill focused with tons of muscle recruitment that help to improve my balance, speed, power and flexibility.

If I’ve learned anything about building my brand, it’s that I need to focus on just one or two things at a time, not 10. I build one program a year with Beachbody, and my other project these days is my personal-care line TH Care by Tony Horton. As I move closer to age 60, I really try to put my energy into ski trips, training with friends and quality time with my wife Shawna.

Seek advice and upgrade your knowledge to continue to grow: I never assume that I have solutions to the obstacles, problems and issues that concern me without asking tons of questions from my collection of mentors, coaches and advisers. Long-term success comes from knowing that continuous education is the best way to deal with transition. Change is inevitable, and assuming that what worked last year will still work next year is naive.

The most successful people I know have no issues with abandoning old-school techniques that don’t apply to the new world. When it comes to upgrading your phone, car or toaster oven, we don’t hesitate, but when it comes to upgrading our knowledge, comprehension or growth techniques, we hold on too tight to aging strategies that don’t help move the needle. Hold onto what works, but also surround yourself with the people who can take you to the next level.

Leslie Becker-Phelps

Psychologist, blogger for “Psychology Today” on making change and author of “Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About It

People often pressure themselves to make a New Year’s resolution. So one way to avoid this is to not make them. Don’t commit to things just because you are supposed to. Instead, reflect on the year that’s ending and consider what you want for the coming year. Let it be a time for musing and imagining.

Then, after you are into the new year, think about whether you really want to commit to making a change. If so, that’s a good time to start making plans.

  • Once you identify changes you’d like to make, it is best to clarify them. Write them down. Make sure you list ways that you will know that you are changing and that you will know when you have met your goal. Set specific and realistic goals.
  • Talk with your spouse or partner about the change you’d like to make. Enlist their support. If you can think of specific ways that you want their help (or ways you’d prefer they not try to help), let them know. Belief in you and encouragement from them can make all the difference.
  • Because setbacks are a given in trying to accomplish any goal, plan for them. Practice self-compassion. Be supportive of yourself the way you would to a good friend. Acknowledge your frustration and disappointment. Note that setbacks are part of the path to change for most people. You might also benefit from having a plan for how to manage temptation (for example, not keeping sugary foods in the house) or setbacks. An example of helping yourself feel better after a setback is doing an activity you enjoy and socializing with friends. Also, to deal with temptation or setbacks brought on by stress, you might do something like exercise or take a hot bath.

Photo credit: thinkstock, istock, Julia Sudnitskaya.