The end of the year is a great way to look back and reflect on the highs and lows of the year. It is also a great time to reflect on changes you’d like to make or behaviors you’d like to keep doing in the new year.
New Year, New You? I won’t lie. I hate that saying. There is no need for a new you. Also, let’s be honest, big goals for resolutions usually end up failing. That leads to disappointment, negative self-talk, and bad moods. All that shit that you don’t want. I have a few suggestions on ways to successfully achieve smaller goals.
Make your goals SMART.
What are SMART goals?
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
I am going to use the example goal “I want to exercise more” since many people have health-related goals for the new year.
Let’s start with Specific. So, you want to exercise more, but how much is more specifically? Is this by number of times per week? By length of time? By trying new exercises than your usual go-tos? Look at how much you exercise now and decide how you want to improve.
Measurable. Now that you thought about the specifics. How will you measure this? One example is: To track my progress, I will write about it in my journal. I will keep track of improvements, such as lifting heavier weights, being able to do more reps, or improving the time it takes to run a mile.
Attainable. What fits into your lifestyle? While we all have big goals in mind, those often end in failure (as mentioned above) and can be discouraging. Take a realistic look at your life and determine how often you can fit in exercising more. How about this for an updated goal: I want to exercise for 1 hour on 4 days per week, and I will journal about my progress.
Relevant. Why do you want to do this? Make sure you are thinking about the reason for your goals, such as “I want to exercise more because I want to be a healthier version of myself”.
Time-bound. You can easily make this a year-long goal. Another option is to ease into your goal. Rather than jumping into exercising for 1 hour on 4 days per week, you could exercise for 1 hour for 3 days per week or for 30 minutes on 4 days per week and increase your time until you meet your larger goal. It could look something like this: January- exercise for 1 hours on 3 days per week, February- exercise for 30 minutes on 4 days per week, March- exercise for 45 minutes on 4 days per week, and April to the end of the year- exercise for 1 hour on 4 days per week. These are your goals, so make sure they fit you!
Find your categories.
I think of my goal list as a “things I want to do” list. How do you want to improve yourself in 2019? That should include more than just improving your health (as most people focus). I will list my categories below as an example.
Money: It is so important to have financial goals. Everyone is in a different place in life, so these goals will differ greatly from person to person. However, everyone should have a savings goal. “I will have x in savings at the end of 2019.”.
Travel: As you know, I love to travel. I keep these pretty broad, such as visit a new state, visit a new country, and visit a new National Park, as I don’t always have my travel planned by the end of December.
Fun: Everyone needs fun in their life! What do you enjoy? I love food so I have to try more local restaurants that I have never been to before and to go on more hikes with my hiking group.
Health and Fitness: Do you want to eat more veggies? Exercise more? Try some new fitness classes? Meditate more often?
Career: Another very important goal that everyone should have on their list. Again, this will look different for everyone, but think of where you’d like to be at the end of the next year career-wise. Maybe you love your job, and you hope to still be there. What can you do to improve your skills to make you a more valuable employee? Or maybe you hate your job. How can you improve your skills to either find a new job or land in a position you would like to see yourself in?
Creative: Reading, crafts, music, writing? This is a great category for the extra things in your life. Having them on your list will make them a priority and not let them slip into the back burner.
Others categories to consider: Volunteering, Skills (such as learn a new language), Education, Family, or any other category that makes sense for your life!
Note: Some goals may not fit neatly into SMART goals. For example, my travel goals are pretty broad. However, I can still make them fit into the outline. S- visit 1 new state, M- by visiting 1 state, A- I travel often so this goal is achievable to me, R- I love to visit new places so this is relevant to me, and T- sometime this year. Another example is, set time aside to draw more. S- block of 30 minutes each week for art, M- the art that I create will be my measure, A- 30 minutes is an attainable goal for my life, R- I enjoy art and this will give me time to myself to express my creativity, T- all this year. Not all need to go into as much detail as my exercise example.
Review your goals often!
Do not just write your goals and forget about them until next December. Find a way to keep them in your mind. This could be by writing them down and placing them somewhere you will often see them, such as a desk or beside your bathroom mirror. I type them out in my “Keep” app and put a widget on my phone’s home screen. As I achieve my goals, I check them off. If I finish a goal particularly early, I may add an updated goal to achieve by the year’s end.
Don’t get discouraged!
It is easy to feel upset if you set out to do something and don’t achieve it. Every failure is a lesson and an opportunity to improve. Example, you set your goal to get a promotion, but why didn’t it happen? If the opportunity didn’t arise due to forces out of your control, such as staffing freezes or someone not leaving to give you the opportunity to move up, that is not your fault. However, if you had the opportunity to move up, but was passed over, how can you improve your chances next time? I don’t mean working yourself to death (If a company expects that, leave them). Is there a new skill that you can learn to make yourself more competitive? Maybe there is an opportunity to sit down with your supervisor to discuss your goals and ways to achieve them. Lesson: There is always a chance for improvement and later success, even if the first result did not end as you wish.
Celebrate your successes!
Just the task of setting goals is a success. Celebrate your badass self. 🙂
What are your goals for this year?
See the template below for an example, including blank spots for your personal categories.