New Year’s resolutions. They’ve become such a cliché that it may even be difficult to say that phrase with a straight face. And yet, January is an ideal time to look ahead, start fresh, and refocus on anything that isn’t going in the direction we want it to. January is the perfect clean slate, the chance to get it right.
Except that this year, instead of making resolutions, I challenge you to set some New Year’s goals.
What’s the difference? Well, resolutions tend to be unfocused and unclear, and are therefore not a very effective tool for change. (Example: I want to lose some weight.)
By contrast, goals are focused and have deadlines — so they tend to be more effective for creating change. (Example: I’m going to lose 10 pounds by June 1.)
But where to start? Well, how about reflecting on the year that has passed. (Yes, I’m looking at you, 2018.)
What did you (or your team or company) do that was notable? What did you accomplish? What are you proud of completing? A review of the past year can provide an excellent starting point for two to three realistic goals this year.
Something else to keep in mind: Most people tend to overcomplicate goal-setting. We were never taught how to set them in the first place, so we tend to worry a good deal about “getting it right.”
I invite you to let go of that fear. You don’t need to know exactly “how” you will reach each goal you’re setting — only that you’re doing so. Take a page from 12-step recovery and “act as if.” Leave some space for the universe to meet you halfway.
Here are some other simple steps to making sure you actually meet your 2019 goals:
1. Write them down
Studies show that you are more likely to achieve a thing if it’s written down rather than just rolling around in your head. And be as specific as you can be — the more detail you add, the better the chance you have to complete that goal.
For each goal, write down why it is important to you, what benefits you will achieve from completing it, and how you will achieve it. Be sure to add a realistic deadline for each goal, too.
2. Ask for help
To get better, you need to surround yourself with people who have achieved more than you. Let go of ego. Take a class. Get a coach. Search out a mentor.
3. Commit to it
Dividing your attention among many things can make it harder to achieve your goals. Instead, focus on just a few things and dive deep. Carve out time to practice, train, or whatever else you need to do. Remember that some things may have to give.
4. Keep score
Log it, blog it, do whatever it takes to chart the daily or weekly progress toward your success!
5. Imagine your success
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!” Those are the immortal words of William Hutchinson Murray from his 1951 classic, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. Practice visualizing yourself as if you’d already attained the goal. This will help your subconscious align itself on your behalf.
6. Talk about it
Aren’t you more likely to show up to the gym if someone is waiting there for you? Accountability allows us to take responsibility for our decisions and is the key to carrying goals forward. So tell people what you are going to do. They will be your biggest fans and cheerleaders when you need someone to lean on.
Here’s to an amazing 2019!
Sara Caputo transforms how individuals, teams, and small businesses navigate workflow and increase productivity. Her work has been featured in Working Women, Success, and Forbes, as well as other national and regional publications.