Let’s admit it – we make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, but for most of us, they fall by the wayside after a few weeks. Goal setting is essential and should be ongoing, not just reserved for the 1st of January. Still, there’s something to the fresh start of a new year, and there’s no better time to reflect on the previous year’s successes. Here are some tips to help you reach your goals!
1. Look Back
Look back on the year and remind yourself how far you’ve come in different areas of your life. When we set out to list everything we want to change, we can sometimes forget to appreciate all we’ve accomplished. It’s important to celebrate your successes, monumental and small. After all, these successes provide the momentum that carries you forward.
2. Select a Few Areas of Focus
Identify about three or four areas of your life you’d love to improve, be they career, health and fitness, finances, relationships, “me” time, or meditation. Don’t try to overhaul your entire life in one go. You can always revisit your resolutions and change your focus. Determine concrete indicators of success for each area (e.g. exercise twice a week; save X amount of dollars per month; plan a monthly lunch date with friends, etc.), and the steps you will take to accomplish each task. Choose a realistic deadline for each task.
3. Write It Down
You will better measure your success if you constantly remind yourself what you’re aiming for. Write down your goals in a notebook, in your Blackberry, or anywhere that you know you will see them regularly. For extra accountability, you can even give a copy of your goals to a trusted friend, who can check in on your progress!
4. Clear the Clutter
When you’re looking to usher in the new, it helps to clear out the junk (external and internal) to make room for what the future holds. Want to learn more in 2010? Donate old magazines and books you won’t reread to a library or literacy organization, where they can be used for instructional materials no matter how dated they are. Want a new look? Pack up a box of clothes you don’t wear anymore, as long as they’re still in good condition, and donate it to the Goodwill or a local transitional shelter. Want more loving relationships? Let go of old resentments and hard feelings.
5. Be Flexible
New Year’s resolutions often “fail” because we think that beginning something on January 1 adds some magic to the prospect of change. Improving our lives is never an easy switch, and we are far too hard on ourselves if we fall short of the lofty expectations we’ve set by January 15. Set yourself up to succeed—establish a few tasks to complete at a time. If you find that something doesn’t work for you, change up your game plan in February—or better yet, as soon as you realize you need a change! Keep your big goals and the bigger picture in mind.
What are your top resolutions for 2010, and what are the first steps you have been taking to see them through during the first 5 days of 2010?