The idea of a new year is exciting—opportunity, challenge, expectation, and change. Some of us get a bit nostalgic, remembering good times had over the previous 12 months. For others, the newness is a bit intimidating. Sure, there were plenty of good times, but there were also missteps aplenty. Many of us have filled a page, literal or imagined, with all sorts of things we’d like to accomplish. Hopefully, we’ve used good judgment and set realistic goals for our new year. That should help temper some of that what-if anxiety. To help finish off those feelings, or at least transform them into useful motivation, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips to turn your goals into accomplishments!
- Narrow Your Scope – If you finish your list of goals for the new year and find you’ve amassed 15, 20, or 50 goals, it’s time to chisel them down. This doesn’t mean you toss the excess in the trash. There’s a back burner for those. On your list of goals, keep 5-7 goals max that you’re actually working on. If they are big or complex, maybe just 3-4 at a time. If you pile on too many, you lose focus, become overwhelmed, and before you know it, you’ve gained 10 pounds, quit training, forgotten how to read, and lost all hope. Okay, probably not. But you will lose track, get discouraged, and probably write your goals off as failures. Work on a manageable number of goals at a time. When you reach one goal, head back to your larger list and move another contestant onto the active list.
- Narrow To Your Passion – You need to be passionate about your goal. If a goal is “Read at least one nonfiction book per month,” but you added that simply because it seems like what a 40-something year old should be doing, you’ll probably hang it up pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean each goal must be something you innately love. You can build passion! So, your book goal doesn’t light your fire. But politics does! Or gardening! Start there. Spend a few minutes scanning books about topics you love and want to learn more about. A great way to learn more about a given topic? Reading nonfiction on the topic. Nothing about losing weight sounds exciting to you? Get passionate about not being self-conscious, about increasing your wardrobe by 50% when you get to unpack those boxes in the closet, about feeling better and being healthier. If you aren’t passionate about the goal, it’s all but lost. Build the passion you need to succeed. (That was good. It’s not trademarked. You can quote it.)
- Accountability – This is a real game changer. To borrow Karson McGinley’s example in the linked article, imagine your goal is to get to the gym at 6:00 a.m. Are you more likely to show up if (a) your workout partner is there waiting on you, ready to go at 6:00 a.m., or if (b) no one but you and your dog will know if you hit snooze and roll back over until you absolutely must wake up? Of course, you’ll get up so you don’t leave your friend hanging (after all, that’s probably what got them there). And this works for all sorts of goals, not just the ones you actively work on together. So you have a goal of saving a certain amount of money each month. Have a trusted friend you check in with at the end of each month. Knowing that discussion is coming has a real power over your decisions. If we know eating lunch out every day means we don’t meet our savings goal and we have to tell our check-in friend that at the end of the month, making lunch ahead of time gets a little easier. Choose this person wisely. They need to be the sort that will encourage you toward your goal, someone who really supports you and wants to see you succeed. That means this person is also the sort who will be frank and honest with you, who will tell you, “If you stop eating lunch out everyday, you’ll more than make up your deficit from February.” If the person in mind can’t do both, think of someone else if you really want help achieving your goal.
- Track Your Success – We talk about checking in at the gym, monthly for savings, every 6 weeks for weight loss—whatever the accountability regimen is. That doesn’t mean those are the only times you need to take stock. In our example above, the lunch conundrum is a daily decision to save or spend. Getting to the gym everyday means to go or sleep. Losing weight means to eat well and move or Netflix and chill (a.k.a. movies and lounging). A great way to stay on task is a daily tracker for your goals. This can be formal with any number of goal-tracking notebooks or journals. Or just grab a pad of paper, label it, and keep tabs on your progress. Note the good and the bad. If you don’t track setbacks and misses, you won’t know how you missed a target or what decisions and behaviors need work.
- Celebrate! – First, don’t go crazy. Meeting your weight loss goal doesn’t mean you’re done. Nurture these new habits and maintain the loss. Goals, after all, aren’t just about notching a success. They are about building new habits, mindsets, and ways of living as better versions of ourselves. So, yes, celebrate when you achieve a goal. Get those new pants you liked better in a size 8 than a 12. You ran your first marathon? Treat yourself to a professional fitting for your next pair of shoes… that you’ll purchase a few weeks before your next marathon? Maybe your celebration is just having that accountability discussion and saying, “I did it!” and getting the high-five of the century. Celebrate, but don’t stay in celebration mode. Nurture the success you worked so hard for. Maintain it. Move on to the next goal and turn it into a success. Then, celebrate some more!
How have you achieved important goals in the past? Have you started from a place of have to and built passion around that goal? Tell us how you’ve succeeded in achieving your goals. How did you celebrate? Then, how did you transition to that next goal? We would love to hear from you about your goals and your successes. Hit us up at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Best of luck turning goals into successes in 2018!