Make the most of a fresh start
It’s a new year, and a fresh start! January always seems to bring about new beginnings, which makes it the perfect time to set some goals and to visualize everything you want to accomplish in the coming year. But staying motivated and sticking to your plan isn’t always easy, especially as the days, weeks, and months pass.
If you want to make progress, though, you have to put in the work; here are some of our favorite, and most productive, tips for setting the right goals – and for making them happen.
Make a decision
Trying to achieve a goal, to actually make progress, can easily become overwhelming – especially when you dream big (as you should)! So sometimes, the best way to get things done is to make a decision; what is your most important goal right now? When there’s a lot to get done, it can be difficult to figure out how to prioritize. Maybe one is more time-sensitive than the others, or maybe a few of your goals are really just pieces of the puzzle of a larger goal. Think about it this way: visualize your endgame; where do you want to be, and when? But if you can, stick to one large goal at a time – it will help you keep your focus, and you’ll get there faster.
Write it out
Writing things down has been proven to help us remember them, to keep them at the forefront of our minds; what better way to keep your eye on the prize? But what do you write down? If you’re really wanting to achieve that goal, however big or small, the best way to get it done is to make your goals specific. Maybe that goal is to earn more money, and to learn how to negotiate a higher rate; set a specific number for that rate – that makes it measurable, too. At the end of the timeframe you’ve set for yourself (another important tactic), you’ll know if you’ve reached your goal; but don’t get discouraged if you’re not quite there yet!
And after you’ve written them down, try posting them somewhere that you’ll see them constantly – the bathroom mirror, the fridge, the computer monitor. Visualizing your goals, reminding yourself of what you hope to accomplish, is one of the best ways to stay on track.
Break it down
We love to dream big, to push ourselves to be the best we can be. But when you set large goals, it can be difficult to know where to start, and easy to feel like you’re floundering. Our favorite tip? Break that goal down into smaller steps. Are you looking to advance in your career? Sign up for a professional development course; have a conversation with a mentor; know your worth and set a higher rate. These smaller steps are like the rungs of a ladder – each one gets you a little bit closer to the top.
Another benefit? Tracking progress. When you’re trying to achieve that big goal, your vision for your future self, you might feel like you’re stuck on a treadmill – putting in a lot of work, but not making any noticeable progress. But just like running on a treadmill, your results (increased strength and better health) will become apparent after putting in the work. With other goals, both personal and professional, it’s the baby steps, added up, that get you where you need to be. And if you set a timeline for these smaller steps, you’ll be able to see that you are getting there! Don’t underestimate the work you’ve put in.
Have you ever given up on a goal? The majority of New Year’s resolutions fail within a month (but to be fair, most of those goals are not intentional and lack effort). If you’re not hitting those smaller goals, and not seeing your long-term vision come to life, it can be comfortable to tell yourself, “maybe next year” or “I would never accomplish that, anyway.” Don’t give up; believe in yourself. Instead, use that vision as motivation, as something to look forward to beyond the day-to-day (we all know it can sometimes feel a little monotonous). Tell a friend or co-worker what you’re hoping to achieve – they can not only keep you accountable, they can be your cheerleader! And go easy on yourself; be willing to adapt your goals or your timeline – nothing ever goes exactly as planned.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to set some goals or establish new habits – but it’s not the only time. Don’t be afraid to set a goal in February, or June, or even December; don’t let the calendar dictate when you can make a change. But it is a fun time to think about what you can accomplish, and to reflect on what you’ve achieved in the past year. Think about how far you’ve come, and you’ll realize just how far you can go! You just have to take that first step.
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