Use these tricks to set yourself up for a successful and productive year
What’s the best way to make sure 2018 lives up to your expectations? Set some goals for yourself, and then systematically work towards them over the course of the year. That way a year from now you can find yourself in a new situation—whether it’s a new job, a savings account, or maybe even going back to school. The steps you take between now and then are what makes the difference!
Easier said than done, we know. So here are some suggestions for ways to get focused in the new year on setting goals, and some tips for how to achieve them:
Clarify what you want
It’s hard to work towards a goal unless you have a clear idea of what it is. Refine your objective, so you know exactly what you’re going for. For example, if you want a new job, be specific about what kind. Research job titles until you find one that sounds like the right combination of skills. Do you want to work in a large or small company? Engage with others throughout the day or do solitary work? The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to get there.
Simplify your objectives
Pick one goal for the year in each area of your life. You don’t need to have goals for all of them, but having something specific in a certain area to work towards can help you focus. Maybe think about: career, money, relationships, health and wellness, self-improvement, and any experiences you’d like to have.
Break it down
Consider all the steps you think it will take for you to reach your goal. Now look at each one of those steps, and ask yourself what you need for each one. Maybe there are people to reach out to, to gather more information. Maybe there’s research to do, in terms of gathering phone numbers or asking friends or colleagues for contacts. Maybe you need to set aside a few minutes to write up a list of questions to ask that person you’ll be reaching out to.
Once you break out each of these individual tasks, it seems more manageable to tackle them, one at a time. For example, if you want to save $1,000 over the course of the year, then figure out how much you need to set aside from your weekly paycheck—in a safe place where you won’t touch the money. (That works out to less than $20 a week!)
Do things in a sequence that makes sense
An effective way to do this is to draw a map, or diagram, showing how to get from where you are now to where you want to go. This can make it easier to cross off the interim steps you’ll need to make along the way.
No one achieves a goal if they tell themselves they’re no good. You need to talk to yourself like someone who admires and believes in you. When an obstacle arises, don’t let it discourage you. Instead, recognize an opportunity to learn something new, persevere, and/or become more resilient. Once you come out the other side, you’ll not only have overcome that obstacle, but you’ll have proven to yourself that you’re reliable and hard-working. Even in small ways, these victories can add up to a sense of self-esteem that will serve you in everything you do.
Don’t overextend yourself in terms of what you’re taking on, either on a daily or weekly basis, in terms of moving towards your goal. This can lead to you getting overwhelmed, shut-down, or discouraged. The key is to set yourself manageable tasks in the short term that keep contributing to the larger goal. There is no need to feel like you have to have it all accomplished in one day. A good example is getting into shape. If you have not been exercising, it’s a bad idea to try to go out and run three miles on the first day. You’ll probably be exhausted and out of breath rather quickly, and it will feel impossible to keep going. But if you set yourself the task of a 15-20 minute walk that first day, you’re likely to accomplish that, and maybe be ready for a slightly longer walk tomorrow. Over time a bigger task can become more and more achievable.
Integrate what inspires you
One way to keep momentum when you’re striving for a life change is to connect what you want with something you care deeply about. If you like interacting with people, then make that a central part of your strategy—you’ll enjoy yourself along the way. When you see a connection between who you already are and where you’d like to go, you’ll find it’s easier to keep going.
Know the “why”
Be able to articulate the reason why you want to achieve a certain goal. Maybe it’s a lifelong dream since you were a child. Maybe it’s something a parent or other trusted role model wants for you. Maybe it will bring you financial stability or newfound freedom. Whatever your motivation is, it helps to have it in clear focus, so you can remind yourself when it gets hard.
Write it down
You might think it’s enough to talk and think about your goals, but there’s something transformative that happens when you put them into writing. You’re committing your thoughts to paper, and can come back and adjust them if you have new thoughts or ideas to integrate. Maybe write down:
- What your objective is
- Why you’d like to achieve this
- How it will impact your life
- The steps required to move towards this outcome, including what help you may need from others
- How long you think you need to make it happen.
Write this in a special place, such as a notebook, a journal, or a new document on your computer or phone. Refer back to it every day for a while, until it becomes clear in your mind. Adjust the steps as need be, as you go along.
Hang in there
Don’t give up when the task gets challenging or you face a roadblock. Use it as a chance to take a breath, re-evaluate, and remind yourself why you set this goal for yourself in the first place. Maybe there will be times when you need to take a walk around the block, have a drink of water, or reach out to friends for some support. But be sure you come back to the task at hand once you’ve had a little break, and take another crack at it. The small steps are the only way you can reach your end goal.
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be in great shape for a successful 2018—on your own terms! We wish you the best of luck in reaching your goals for this year.
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. We care about the health and well-being of all our students. Visit us online to learn more, call (603) 622-8400, or reach out to schedule a campus tour!