Set Attainable Goals for New Year Success!
It may be New Year's resolution season, but your best interests might be better served by setting small, achievable goals.
Resolutions vs. Goals
Think about resolutions you've made in the past. Chances are they were general statements about eating healthier, reading more or increasing exercise. "I hereby resolve that in this new year I'm going to visit the gym more often."
Goals, however, are more than a statement of intent, especially if you dive into the nitty-gritty of what you want to accomplish. That resolution to visit the gym more often becomes tangible when you set a frequency -- three times a week, or 12 times a month, for example. Likewise, a resolution to eat healthier becomes clearer when paired with a goal of replacing one dinner each week with a salad or adding a nutritional supplement each day.
Goals: Let's Get Started
If you're intent is to make big changes in the new year, a good rule of thumb is to concentrate on one, two or three goals. This is because you'll need the additional focus and may decide that each of the large goals has natural sub-goals (which will help keep you motivated).
For smaller goals, however, try dividing your lists into areas of your life. Maybe you'll have a health list, a professional list and a travel list. (Yes, feel free to set some goals around the fun stuff too!) Keep each list as short as possible, and keep the goals measurable and realistic.
Here are some suggestions:
Health (Physical and Mental)
- Start a daily journal and write in it (or draw in it) at least once per day for at least 30 days
- Try one new vegetable each month (write about it in your daily journal)
- Create a 30-minute (or more) buffer between screen time and bedtime
- Take a cooking class
- Declutter one room each month
- Speak with a career navigator and create a career plan
- Attend one networking event this year
- Revisit resume each quarter for potential updates
- Apply for a promotion
- Select a new skill and receive training
- Revisit existing accounts and paint a real picture of current financial health
- Increase savings by at least $25 each month ($300 per year)
- Research employer retirement plan and contribute for company match
The possibilities are truly limitless because you are focusing on your life, needs and interests. Want to build a stronger bond with your children? Set aside one afternoon or evening each month for special 1-on-1 time. And, no, it doesn't have to be expensive. It could be as simple as tossing a ball at the park or having a home spa day.
Want to travel more? Create a travel goal list. It could start with a special savings account, or by exploring local diners in your town.
Need to go back to school? Set some goals related to that need. Maybe that means switching to a different shift at work, or paying off existing debt.
Lists can range from home improvement to starting a small business, from social media to spirituality. You make the rules, set the goals and reap the rewards.
Goals Aren't Stamped in Stone
Perhaps the best part about setting goals -- beyond the psychological benefits of doing so -- is knowing that goals can adapt to changing circumstances. That extra $25 you've been socking into your savings account for a future vacation can be used to pay an unexpected medical bill or replace a broken appliance. Again, unlike all or nothing resolutions, goals have flexibility. If your doctor advises against training for a marathon, she might suggest additional resistance training. Applying for a promotion may not result in getting the promotion, but it lets your company or organization know you want to advance.
It's important to set goals with a definitive time frame and measurable steps. But it also important not to aim too high. For instance, I might like to add $1 million to my bank account by the end of July but, unless I'm expecting a windfall, this goal isn't realistic. If you are a person who is motivated by trying to obtain the unobtainable, feel free to set that goal. But if you are someone who works better with small celebrations along the way, break big goals up into bite-sized pieces.
One final piece of advice: Write down your goals and put them someplace accessible. You want to see them, revisit them and continue to work toward them.
Happy New Year!