January 2, 2018…
As I type these words it is a mere 11 degrees here in coastal New Jersey. Even though I would like nothing more than to retreat back underneath my down quilt this morning, I’ve got this blog post about New Year’s resolutions nagging me. So, instead I have poured more coffee and will add my thoughts on this annual January rite to my little corner of the internet.
I readily admit that I don’t like New Year’s resolutions (let’s call them NYRs for simplicity). As you are probably already aware, by Feb. 1 each year, most NYRs have either been abandoned or forgotten. I find most of us are too inclined to use the first day of the year to either try to change everything we don’t like about our lives, or cast vague wishes into the wind. As a result, we end up disappointed or disillusioned with ourselves. Not a good recipe for success or fulfillment.
Even though I prefer to reassess my productivity habits in September at the start of each new school year, I too am lured by the promise of a New Year. Maybe it’s that first page in the new planner, with 365 blank pages of possibility unfolding in front of me. Or that next birthday, now looming ever so close. In any case, despite my best efforts to stick to September, there are still several goals I plan to tackle this year.
Yes, I said “goals” and “plan” – not “want” or “wish” because I’ve learned that wishing isn’t enough to get you where you want to be. You need a plan, not a resolution. I certainly don’t profess to be perfect at this, but here are a few ideas to create a more realistic approach to reaching your goals for a new year.
- Use the SMART goal approach, popularized by both management and personal development experts. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). This concept has been around since the 1980s, and it can be adapted to virtually any type of goal you have in mind – from writing a book to getting more organized. Using this technique can help you create a roadmap for each goal, which can and should include steps or mini-goals along the way.
- Don’t try to take on too much at once. Seriously. Just don’t do it. If you try to transform every area of your life at once, you’ll end up getting burned out before accomplishing anything. Honestly, multi-tasking is overrated and for most people it can be downright disastrous. If you want to achieve multiple goals, that’s great. But instead of trying to do them all at once, try using your planner and calendar to stagger goals throughout the year. If your goals involve adopting new habits, give yourself enough time to commit to one new habit before starting another. The rule of thumb is you need about 30 days to make a habit stick.
- Write it down. Commit your goal to paper (or digital document) and keep it where you can see it every day. If you’re not much of a writer, find an image of your goal, and keep that where you can see it. I’m not saying you have to go as fancy as a vision board (although I know many people who swear by them), but the very act of writing down your goal will give it legitimacy.
- Find an accountability partner to help you stick to your goal. It can be a friend or co-worker with a similar goal, or someone who you can count on to cheer you on — or call you out on your BS. If you both have a similar or the same goal, you can reinforce your plans by working together. There is no small amount of power in not wanting to let someone else down.
- There is no right time to do this. If you’re excited to start setting goals in January, that’s great if it works for you. But you may be one of those people who have difficulty starting new routines in the dead of winter. If so, you may have found that spring renewal works better for your personality. I mentioned earlier that I prefer to make changes that coincide with the new school year, a practice I began when my kids were young. It’s also a good idea to revisit and reaffirm your goals every so often. They may change, or you may find a new approach will work better for you.
Finally, here are a few links that can help you start a goal setting plan for the year. (Note: none of these are affiliate links, just good info sites and tools I’ve used myself in my own goal planning efforts.)
Passion Planner – www.passionplanner.com – Goal setting and a plan to reach them is built into the Passion Planner.
Time Management Ninja – www.timemanagementninja.com – Craig Jarrow’s blog and free productivity resources will help you manage your time so that you can focus on what’s important to you.
Jocelyn Glei – http://jkglei.com/ – author Jocelyn Glei focuses on helping creatives become more productive in the digital age through her books and podcasts.
(In case you were wondering, my own goals for this bright and hopeful New Year involve a lot of Ws for some reason: more writing, more water, and more walking. If any of you would like to share your goals or tips, feel free to post them in the comments, which I monitor.)