A brand new year is here. Time to wipe the slate clean and create the life you’ve been dreaming about. It sounds good theoretically, but if you’re like a lot of people, you end up struggling to make real and lasting changes.
Maybe this year by approaching your goal setting a little bit differently you can change that.
Here are some practical guidelines that will help you replace bad habits, set goals and actually REACH them in the year ahead.
Learn from the Past
Many of us are eager to push ahead and make profound changes at the start of the new year without taking time to reflect on the past year. There are, no doubt, many lessons that can be learned from the last 365 days.
Before setting goals for the new year, make sure to spend some time reflecting on the past year to learn how you might be able to do things differently.
You don’t want to start a new year with a bitter heart. To set the right tone, forgive those who need forgiving, including yourself. Remind yourself that you and everyone else are human beings, and to be one means to be flawed and often unpleasant.
Fine-Tune Your Vision
Most people focus on only setting goals. But unless you know how those goals fit into your overall life vision, you’ll have a hard time reaching them.
Now is the time to look at the bigger picture of your life. Your goals are the steps you take to make this big vision a reality. But right now, focus on the bigger purpose for your life. This is the time (and take your time) to think about what you want the purpose of your life to be.
Once you know your overall vision, you will be able to set goals and instantly recognize whether those goals align with your vision. If you realize a goal will not help you make your vision a reality, put it aside for now.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Nope, we’re not done talking about setting goals yet! In order to set goals the right way, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
You’ve got to make sure the goals you set are all of these things.
The more specific your goal, the better chance you’ll reach it. Define the who, what, where, when, why and how of your goal right up front.
A general goal would be, “learn small business financing.” A specific goal would be, “Take a night class twice a week at the community college to learn the best way to finance my startup business.”
Make it Measurable
Define how you will measure your progress. This is when you ask questions like “how much” or “how many?” How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?
Is it Attainable?
The biggest mistake people make is setting lofty, unattainable goals and then berating themselves – and quitting their purpose – when they don’t reach them.
Lofty Goal: Make $1 Million in revenue in my first year of business.
Attainable Goal: Start a business and be able to pay myself and one other employee by year’s end.
Is it Realistic?
Your goal may be attainable for most people to reach, but is it realistic for YOU to reach it in your current life situation? How motivated are you? How much time do you realistically have to commit to achieving this goal? What are you willing to do to cross that finish line?
How Much Time Do You Need?
You must ground your goal within a specific time frame. This is how advertisers get people to take action – they set a time limit: only 4 hours left until the sale ends!
To get yourself to take action, set your goal within a specific time frame. As an example, “I will finish my business plan within two months.”
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals will help you fine-tune your plan and have a better chance at succeeding.
Say No More Often
It’s hard for most people to say no when asked for a favor. But what happens when you say yes so often? You become overextended, don’t accomplish what you need to accomplish to be happy, then feel resentful.
It’s time to put that pattern to bed once and for all. Though you may feel selfish at first saying no, you will free up more time for you to accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself. This will make you feel incredible, and you’ll soon find saying no becomes a cinch.
Setting goals is necessary to create the life you really want. But be careful that you don’t get into a mindset of, “When I accomplish X, Y or Z THEN I will be happy.” Be happy NOW. Spend time each and every day to think of all the things in your life you are grateful for right NOW. The more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you tend to find them. It’s funny how that works!
Embrace Your Failure
Do you know how you get to where you want to be? You fail. A lot! Most of the successful business owners, athletes and entertainers failed miserably before they made it. If there is only one new habit you form in the new year, let embracing your failures be it.
When you learn from them, past mistakes become opportunities for growth. When you don’t learn from them, past mistakes become a pattern.
Plan on Being Successful
You planned for success on paper, but now plan for success in your mind and heart. So many people dream about a life of abundance and joy, but when it lands in their lap, they don’t know how to handle it. It sounds odd, but if you’ve been used to life feeling a certain way for a long time, you may not be comfortable with a new feeling, even if that feeling is amazing!
Imagine every day what life will feel like once you’ve reached your goals and made your life vision come to pass. Feel it every day. It will not only help to motivate you to work toward your dreams, it will also prepare you for when those dreams become a reality.
The new year is just around the corner, beckoning all of us to be the best we can be. So let’s take a moment to reflect on this past year, give thanks, learn as much as we can, and set our intentions on reaching our ultimate dream.