2020 is finally in the past, and even though the new year has already brought strife, it is still filled with the hope of new beginnings. You may have already chosen resolutions, mapped out goals, or set your intentions. It takes so much more than simply stating or writing your goals to actually bring them to fruition. How many times have you written down a goal only to put in effort for a few weeks before falling off the wagon, losing motivation, and simply letting the day-to-day get in the way? I’ve done it too many times.
Wanting to make positive changes is a beautiful thing, but if you’re going to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you’re going to need a solid system to stay on track. Below are a few tips that I have utilized to do just that.
Create SMART Goals
If you are anything like me, and many of the clients that I have worked with, then chances are you have an abundance of goals for 2021. The SMART Goals framework creates the foundation for success by ensuring the following:
Specific - Be absolutely clear and concise about what you want to achieve. Think of the five “W’s”- who, what, where, when, why. When you are clear on all of these, you will be able to better focus on your goal. The why is especially important in those moments when the inspiration has worn off. A vague yet worthy goal for 2021 could be “I want to improve my wellness.” A more specific goal, however, would be “I want to better manage my stress.”
Measurable - How will you know when you have achieved your goal or simply made progress towards that end? Take this opportunity to structure your benchmarks and points of assessment.
Attainable - Naturally, your goals will be challenging and push you beyond our comfort zone. It is important, though, that they are still within reach- challenging, yet possible. For example, meditating for 3 minutes instead of 5 or 10.
Relevant - Make sure that the goals you are setting are in line with your values. Sometimes in life, we get caught up in other’s expectations for us and even adopt them as our own. Is your goal authentic to you? Is it something YOU want to achieve? Is it the right time?
Time-bound - To remain on-task, set a realistic yet ambitious timeframe. What can you achieve in the short term versus the long term or vice versa? Remember that we often overestimate what we can achieve in a day, yet underestimate what we can achieve in a year. Think deeply about this. What can you do in one week, one month, or six months’ time?
You can probably relate to the feeling of wanting to achieve everything and doing so in this very moment...which often happens when we are extremely ambitious. However, it typically leads to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. There are so many goals to reach, tasks to complete, and projects to manage that you never quite know what to do first, where to focus, nor when to take a break. Eventually, you’re so busy doing a little bit of everything, that nothing actually gets accomplished.
This is where prioritization comes in. I’m positive you’ve heard this advice before, but have you made it work for you? This can be done in a couple of ways:
Deadline-based: This is often helpful when you are working with clients or are in a 9 - 5 job, managing multiple projects. It cuts the B.S. because the hard date at which the task must be completed. The closer the deadline, the more time and energy that task receives.
Focus-based: If you have the freedom to set your own deadlines, then the above approach might not be the most effective. [Read: continually pushing your own deadlines back.] However, now you have the ability to dedicate whatever amount of time to a given project. I suggest planning out your week with a planner or calendar and filling it first with any appointments. Then list out your top three projects and allot the required time for each throughout the week. You do not have to work on each project every day. If you have the ability to deep dive and spend a whole day on a project, do so if that suits your workstyle. You can also break each project down into chunks for each day. For example, breaking down a video editing project into 1 hour time blocks Monday through Friday.
One of the most overlooked components to achieving any goal is rest. Spending time away from the task at-hand is a crucial component, as your brain is still at work in its resting state. During this time you are still processing, giving your mind the freedom to discover new strategies and promote creativity. Resting is the only way to avoid burnout, and if you are tackling multiple goals this year, you’re going to need the downtime to return to work with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of motivation.
Taking time for yourself, whether you nap, watch your favorite show, or have a zoom chat with friends, will significantly help in reducing stress, creating joy, and bringing more balance to your life.
I have a plethora of goals I would love to achieve this year, and taking more time to connect with myself is one of them. What are some of your goals for 2021?