If you’re looking forward to a bright, fresh new year, this is the post for you. A new start can make all the difference…but how do you set goals that will take you beyond early January motivation and through the rest of the year? This post will help you get – and stay! – on track.
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Setting big goals
Most people make the mistake of setting arbitrary goals. These could be goals that are just random, goals that they feel they should set, or goals they have no idea how to achieve. For big goals, the most important thing is that you’re super passionate about achieving the goal and committed to the outcome (even if all the steps to get there aren’t too clear just yet!). Randomly thinking, “Oh it would be nice to have a beach house,” while flicking through a magazine is very different to deciding it’s your main focus and actively working toward it.
A Big Goal list is a great place to start because it helps you decide what’s really important. Maybe it’s that you have a college fund for your kids, or that you want an amazing house, or you want to donate X amount to charity, or that you want to clear your debts. How you create the list is up to you – maybe you want to create a real life vision board, or have sticky notes on the wall, or create a Pinterest board, or keep doodles or a list in your purse, or a photo on your phone. The most important thing is that it’s something you’ll see all the time as a reminder of what you’re working toward.
Action: Make a list of all the big goals you want to achieve in your life. It doesn’t matter how outrageous they are, no one else needs to know about them! Next, reorder them in a way that makes sense for you. It could be the smallest or “easiest” goal first, it could be the one that’s most important to you…your choice!
Breaking down your first Big Goal
It would be the best thing ever to accomplish all your life goals at once, but we all know that’s impossible! So the next thing to do is grab the top goal from your list and write down everything you think you might need to make it happen. At this stage you don’t need every single step detailed out, just a rough idea. For example, going back to the beach house dream, it might be things like researching what costs are involved in the purchase, running costs, who you might need to hire to help you, deciding on a location, and so on.
From there, you can work out an idea of what’s practical for you to achieve in a year. Maybe it’s earning X% of the deposit, or paying off a credit card, putting systems and processes in place, or even setting up a website or business. You could even apply it to a fitness goal or an education goal.
The next step is to turn your goal into numbers: it could be money, time, calories…whatever makes sense for your goal. From there you can break it down; for example, if your goal is to earn $30,000 in a year from your website, break it down monthly ($2500) and weekly ($577). If your goal is 100,000 visitors for the year, that’s 8333 a month or 1923 a week. Numbers aren’t always going to play out nicely like that, especially if your niche is seasonal or your focus needs to be flexible, but straightaway you can see that they already look like more achievable numbers. Another thing to mention is that if your visitor base is growing steadily over time, or your income source is recurring (for example through subscriptions or retainers), you can still hit your monthly goal in the last month of the year and then you’re reaping the benefits for the year after and building on what you’ve achieved.
The most important thing is that you’re starting in the right place for you and sticking with what you need to do – don’t let other people distract you, judge you, or make you feel inferior. Not everyone is in the same place, and that’s totally okay! As the saying goes, be bitter or be better 😀
Action: Break down the numbers to see what’s realistic for you to achieve. The sweet spot is usually the place where the big yearly numbers look exciting while the small weekly numbers look doable for you. If you’re not sure, start with a time goal rather than a money goal.
Keeping on track
01. Figure out your working style
Deciding you’ll get up at 5am when you’re a notorious night owl is likely setting yourself up for failure. You don’t need to get up at 5am to be successful, but you can do if that’s your own best time to work. Some people love schedules and planners, some people run for the hills. Some people are in their best mindset by meditating or getting dressed or putting on makeup before they start. Some people prefer to just start.
All those things are fine as long as you aren’t subconsciously piling up more goals and habits as distractions or telling yourself you “have” to do something to be successful. You don’t have to keep on top of a planner to get work done – and in fact you’re just giving yourself another loss condition if it doesn’t come naturally to you. You don’t have to work X hours a day, especially if you know you work better in short bursts. It’s better to do half an hour of great work than congratulating yourself because you sat a desk for six but spent a lot of that time scrolling social media.
02. Create habits
There are lots of great articles on books on habit-forming, and many of them have the same suggestions. Make it easy to make your habit happen – if your computer is ready to go and you have a tidy desk, it’s easier to start compared to if your laptop isn’t charged, you can’t find the cable, and your keyboard needs new batteries.
Chaining a new habit onto an existing one can also help, for example doing squats while you brush your teeth.
Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re planning to post on Instagram every day and you miss a day, don’t give up. Doing anything daily is a huge commitment. Just show up the next day and look forward instead of back, or set yourself a smaller target like posting X times a month or at least X times a week.
If you’re the type of person who feels guilty or punishes themselves, balance it out with rewards for when you succeed. You don’t have to spend money – it could be something as simple as having a victory song you play or digging out an old favorite book.
03. Be adaptable
You’re not going to have a perfect year, and that’s okay – neither is anyone else! Life always happens, and things may go wrong unexpectedly (such as a car problem or illness or a big change to your available time).
If something isn’t working for you, take some time to figure out why. Maybe you have less time than you initially thought, or you want to change your goal, or you don’t seem to be moving the needle. As long as you aren’t changing your mind so frequently it’s stopping you achieving anything at all, that’s totally fine! Another way to look at it is, what in your life is going well and why is that? Maybe it’s because it’s your main focus, or you have more experience, or you approach it a different way. What can you take from it and apply to your goals?
04. Check in with yourself
Set a frequency to check in on specific goals, or create a calendar/phone reminder to review all your goals together every month or every quarter. Tracking is super important, even if you know it’s not good news. Everyone ends up needing to give themselves a second (or third, or fourth!) chance at something.
Revisit your Big Goal and your future big goals regularly. Journaling about why you started, or checking in with a friend or social media group can lift your spirits and help you through the harder times.
Don’t worry that you’re not productive or not achieving all the time – no one is, even if social media makes it look that way! Count your successes, tweak your habits and processes, jump right back on the wagon, and you’ll see success by the end of the year. Good luck!
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