Looking forward to a killer new year? Make it even better by giving yourself goals to work towards and push your creativity to its limits!
This was originally posted on December 31st, 2012 on my old blog. I feel the information is just as useful now! I modified it a bit so it is up to date.
This is something I do every year around December 31st before putting on my party hat. I had a pretty awesome year and it got me thinking about what I did exactly made all the difference when tackling 2014.
I recommend you find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed for about 30 minutes to an hour, or maybe a little longer if you get really into it like I do.
1- Look back at 2014
a) Write down all your successes and things you accomplished this past year. They don’t all have to be big, it just needs to be something that you are proud of. A few examples off my list: Went to South East Asia, read that book that has collected dust on my nightstand, moved into our new house, learned how to knit, etc. Tip: Check out your Social Media posts. They are usually a good reminder of what you have done.
b) Write down your “failures”. Failure is a nasty word that I don’t really believe in so let’s use the word mistake instead. There is always something good that comes out of any mistake. I have done my fair share of them but I have realized there is a lot to learn from each and every one of them. I suffer from the “SuperWoman Syndrome” which is basically that I am constantly striving to carry out everything possible in a perfect way and always want to do more; and better. At some point last year, I was working a full-time job, volunteering for multiple organizations and committees, trying to build a name for myself in the business world by picking up side contracts, all while trying to balance a social life with my friends and family. Let’s just say that I failed miserably; I forgot that I was only one person. Some of my contract work didn’t get accomplished or was done half-ass, and many relationships crumbled. I ended up stopping all operations in my business and no longer accept contracts. Not to mentioned my health took a big hit too. Which brings me to…
2- Who do you want to become?
How many times have you looked at someone and said to yourself that you wished you had as much courage as them to take a big risk like changing jobs or asking for that raise, or the determination and motivation to hit the gym everyday after work? I know I am guilty to have done this way too many times. Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on yourself and how can you become a better version of you!
Now, for a fun little exercise. Close your eyes for a moment and picture your dream life. Think about these points:
a) What type of lifestyle do you want to have?
b) What are the things you have accomplished or working on?
c) What is your dream job?
d) What are the people you want to surround yourself with?
e) If money wasn’t an issue, I would…
f) What kind of personality do you have?
Write them all down, even if it is a Malibu beach house and married to Jennifer Lawrence or Bradley Cooper after winning a Nobel Prize. No dream is to big or too small! Read them over. Unrealistic? Maybe, but have you ever thought how much these dreams impact your daily actions?
Some dream at night of a life that they think is unreachable so we have to settle for what we have. Stop thinking like that immediately. What you have in life all comes from actions you’ve taken in the past. That life can be yours if you get off the computer and just go for it!
Now, think about that and of those points I asked you to think about and really think hard on how you really want your life to be next year, in 5 years from now, 10, 20, 50! Write it down. Draw pictures if you want too!
How are you going to get that awesome life you have scribbled in your notebook? Break it down.
3- The SMART New Years list
We all know that New Years Resolutions are BS. We usually set ridiculously high [unrealistic] standards for ourselves like eating healthier, stop smoking, get a new job, exercise more and the list goes on. We have all been to the gym in January where there are no treadmills available only to see that only one-third of them are being used at the same time a month later. Our intentions are good, but, usually, if we skip a workout, we often just give up and expect that the 6-pack fairy will come see us before bikini season. Resolutions are too general. How can you measure success? Is it an all or nothing goal? Are we setting ourselves up for failure? This is why I have thrown away the idea of resolutions and implemented SMART Goals in all aspects of my life.
What are SMART goals you may ask?
Specific: Exactly what is it you want to achieve and to what extent. Answer the questions “What, who, where, when & WHY?”
Measurable: You need to track the progress and measure the outcome. “How much or how many?”
Action oriented: What are you going to do? What will be the results?
Realistic & Relevant: Your goals should be challenging but realistic and relevant to you ultimate goal (being more awesome, of course.)
Time based: Give yourself a time limit. “By when do you want to achieve your results?”
It may seem like a lot but it is quite simple.
To do your list of SMART goals first analyze what you wrote down at 1 & 2. What are accomplishments that you would like to repeat, what can you do to prevent those mistakes made and how can you become that better version of you? Brainstorm all these ideas on a page then, after you’ve taken a 5 minute break to listen to a really motivating song like Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (or something as equally epic) and look if there’s anything to add to your scribbles.
Listen to the song again. Pumped and ready to run up those stairs? I know I am.
Now it is time to write your list. Look at what you wrote in during brainstorm session and try to make a SMART goal with every idea.
Is it still too general or can’t make it fit all the SMART points? Break it down even more. For example, you want to get healthier this year. It’s quite general and not really measurable. I suggest to create sub goals like : Run [insert famous regional name] marathon, Junk Food challenge (where each month you cut out a certain type of junk food for a full month, then something different the next.), etc. You will need to train for the marathon, but when you do run across that finishing line, it will make you realized that you are healthier than the couch potato you were a few months back. Accept yourself but expect more from yourself.
By having a large amount of goals to work towards, this create multiple opportunities to create a sense of accomplishment. Throughout the year, take a few moments to look at your list and all the things you have already accomplished! Last year, I fell short of 3 of my goals. But hey, I completed 19 more that made me into the person I am today. Next year when you repeat this exercise, look at your list in a positive way.
Optional: Invite a good friend to do this with you. By both having a list of goals, you can encourage and help each other. Plus, having your friend help you write your goals, they can bring a different perspective and they also will keep you accountable for what you say you’re going to do. Having a cheerleader on your side every step of the way is always a big help.
As a last little suggestion for you today, take every opportunity that presents itself to you. You never know what will result from it but it may pleasantly surprise you. They may not come slap you in the face in a really obvious way; you may need to do a little research or even create certain opportunities for yourself and the rest will start meshing together.
Happy goal-oriented New Years!