As we enter a new year, we often make promises to ourselves: to be happier, healthier, and to make the world a better place. We join a climbing gym and sign up for hot yoga, stock our refrigerators with organic kale, and start volunteering at the animal shelter. Three weeks later, we’re back to our old ways, except we’re out the gym membership fee and the fridge is full of rotten vegetables.

It’s all too easy to set ourselves up for disappointment with our lofty goals and hazy implementation plans.

Here are some simple ways to turn your New Year’s resolutions into easily attainable realities:

1. The resolution: Put family first.

Though it may be a difficult subject to talk about now, one of the best gifts you can give your family is peace of mind for the future. Each year, resolve to review and, if necessary, update your estate plan. Your family situation may have changed, through marriage, divorce, a new baby, or the loss of a loved one. It’s important to make sure your Will, Living Will, and other documents still reflect your wishes.

When you have a plan for the future, you can focus more on the present. Relax and enjoy eating family dinners, coaching your child’s soccer team, and arguing about whose turn it is to walk the dog.

2. The resolution: Spend more time with friends.

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get caught up in our work and other obligations and distractions. When we finally take a moment to breathe, we realize we have lost touch with old friends and haven’t done enough to build relationships with new ones. We wonder if too much time has passed to give a college friend a call, and if that person we met six months ago at a conference even remembers who we are (or that we said we’d get lunch “sometime.”)

Well, the good news is that “sometime” is now. Every week, I make time to meet at least one friend for a meal or coffee. If once a week sounds like too much for your overloaded schedule, you can do it once a month, or six times a year—the important thing is to schedule it!

3. The resolution: Make a difference in the world.

This can be one of the most overwhelming resolutions we make. How can one person make a difference? We may not have as much time as we’d like to volunteer, and we worry that charitable giving may affect our family’s security in uncertain financial times.

Much like we plan for our loved ones after we are gone, we can also plan ahead to support the causes and organizations that are most important to us. The simplest option is a charitable bequest in your will, but there are many ways to make planned giving part of your estate plan. At Kane, Hartley & Kane, we can work with you to make a difference.

I’ve listed three actions we can all take–right now–to move us toward our goals in 2018. Happy New Year!

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