Ah, the new year…The time for reflection, celebration and resolutions. Next year everything is going to be perfect! I’m going to do all of these amazing things to change my life! Right?!
Ok, while there are people out there who set their resolutions like that, that’s not what I’m talking about today. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of resolutions. Most of them sound exactly the same and very few are achievable. They are generally these huge, vague yet life-changing statements with no actionable plan as to how to go about making those changes. Get in shape! Eat healthy! Save money! Quit my job! All great concepts, but without breaking these things down and planning out how you want to do that, these things are almost impossible to stick to.
It’s my belief that setting resolutions like these are the reason a lot of people only stick with whatever resolution they set for the first few weeks and then continue on with life in exactly the same way they were pre-resolution.
Now, goals….those are a different story. I love goals! As you’ve seen in previous months (like this post and this one, for example) I love setting goals for myself. Some months I do well, some not so well. But I always have those goals in the back of my mind. I’m currently working on my goals for the next year, so I want to share some of that planning process and mindset with you!
- Be specific. Goals work best when they are clearly stated and you can look at them and say “Yes I finished that goal” or “No, I didn’t.” Being specific also makes it much easier to break down that goal into smaller pieces, especially if you have a larger, more complex goal in mind.
- Example: You want to to end 2016 in better physical shape than you are at the end of 2015. What does that look like to you? Does that just mean you’ve lost weight, or you can lift a certain amount? Are you going to exercise, change your diet, maybe both? How many times a week do you want to exercise? How do you want to change your diet? These questions can go on, but you get the idea.
- Be realistic. Setting a goal that is far beyond what is possible is not only setting it up to fail, but is very demotivating and demoralizing. While I know that some of the goals you may have in mind are huge life changes, realize that they may not be achievable in one year. How can you break those down into 1-2 smaller, more manageable goals that you can work on this year to get you to your ultimate larger goal?
- Example: You want to start your own business, quit your day job and be self employed full time, making $100,000 a year. Outside of extreme examples (I’m sure that there are a few people that have managed this) this probably isn’t likely to happen in one year. Especially if you haven’t even started your business yet. Instead break that down into a few smaller goals, like getting the business started and making your first few sales.
- Write it all down. Don’t just write out you main goal. Write down the steps you will need to take to get to that goal, plans for setbacks, smaller goals within that main goal, etc. Planning is essential for success.
- Example: You want to start eating healthier. You’ve already narrowed down what that looks like and how you want to achieve it. Now write down steps like finding X number of healthy recipes, cleaning out your pantry, setting up for meal prepping or cooking in general, etc. Plan how you will stay on track through things that might cause you difficulty, like stress, holidays or eating out.
- Pick a focus. By this, I mean choose goals that focus on 1-2 areas of your life, instead of spreading yourself thin trying to change everything. Now, I mostly mean this for brand new goals, not continuations of existing goals. But even then I would say not to try to focus on too many at once. Change can be hard. Cliche, I know, but true. Instead of trying to change something in every area of your life and overwhelming yourself, try to narrow it down to a couple areas that mean the most or would have the most impact.
- Plan, Plan, Plan! Ok, I know this was kinda covered in all the other tips, but it’s important enough that I felt it needed it’s own number. Start planning now for the changes you want to make in 2016! Goals are much easier to start working on if you have everything laid out, and sometimes the planning period alone can take a week or two.
- Example: You want to exercise 6 days a week. Lay out where you will exercise, what exercise options you want or have available, what time of day works best with your schedule, etc. Spend a week or two looking at your schedule and how your week generally goes, noting when you have the most availability or energy. If you need to join a gym, now would be the perfect time to start looking at them and pick which one to join.
So there you have it! My top 5 tips for setting your goals for 2016! What tips do you have to set and succeed at your goals for the coming year? I would love to hear them! Let me know!