Already broken one (or all) of your New Year’s resolutions? You’re not alone. Last year, a survey by Ipsos found that 30% of Canadians made annual self-promises, but more than 70 per cent inevitably broke them. So we’re thinking, screw resolutions! Let’s just set ourselves up for success by setting goals and sticking to a plan to achieve them. Here are five ways to help you get started.
1. Choose Your Destination and Create a Road Map
If you are reading this, chances are you already have one or two ambitious but attainable goals in mind. Wherever you like to record your to-do lists, jot down your goals and be as clear and concise as possible. Imagine someone else is reading it – would they understand exactly what they are? Try to keep your list short: Greater success comes to those who do fewer things better. One is best, but two, max.
Now, put January down as your start date and December as your end date. First, plan quarterly. What big picture things need to happen from January to March, April to June, July to September and October to December? Then, dive deeper month by month within the quarter, and begin to outline what you will do to obtain only that three-month goal. (Hint: If you get stuck mid-way, go to December and work backwards.) Finally, break each month into four weeks, and establish the weekly tasks. (If you want to get really granular, you can even complete a day-to-day list.)
Congrats! This is your road map to success.
Additional Support: Any.do: To-Do List, Calendar, Reminders & Tasks (available where you buy apps)
2. Declare Your Goals to Someone – Other than Yourself
Procrastination is a nasty habit, my friends. And while some have no problem being accountable to themselves, it’s the easiest thing for most to just fluff off. Ask your SM, BF, family member or any other breathing human (as much as we love dogs, they just don’t cut it here) to spend 10 minutes looking over your plan and give you the thumbs up.
Additional Support: Write your goals on your bathroom mirror with a dry-erase pen. Read the words daily and smile at your awesome self.
3. Similarly, Find a Mentor
No one has ever been offended by the question, “Would you mind mentoring me?” Of course, not everyone has the time, but you must know someone who is smart, successful, understands your chosen goal(s), and can take a few minutes from time to time to check in on your progress and offer some guidance if necessary.
Alternatively, start a group. Think of it like a book club but for focused, driven people like you. Meet monthly, with a moderator and a clear agenda. Keep it small (six people at most). Start the meeting by going around the circle and giving updates on everyone’s goals/roadmaps, then have a pre-assigned presenter share their progress, successes and any obstacles with which they may need help.
Additional Support: Follow someone you admire on social who is killing it with a similar goal.
4. Take Care of Your Body
A no-brainer: Eat healthy, drink lots of water, be physically active and get at least seven hours of sleep. Obvious? Sure, but a gentle reminder doesn’t hurt. (Of course, if your goal is to lose weight, this is clearly a bare minimum.)
Additional Support: This is second nature to most, but if you really want to be organized, schedule bedtimes, meals, exercise and water breaks into your daily calendar.
5. Harness the Power of Positive Thinking
Positive thoughts bring positive results. Negativity breeds negativity. There are too many studies and experts to list that have proven these theories, so trust us when we say, find a mantra that expresses your goal and why you can achieve it. Write it down, or text it to yourself, and carry it with you at all times, so it’s readily available if you have a weak moment. Some like to keep a gratitude journal to keep the good karma flowing; others like to meditate. Whatever you do, at the very least rid yourself of negative thinking. How? Imagine your brain has a switch: The second you start doubting yourself or questioning your ability to achieve your goals, flip the switch and focus on that motto you declared above.
Additional Support: We haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love The 5 Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day by Intelligent Change
Bonus Tip: If you find yourself overwhelmed by your daily to-dos and tempted to procrastinate, eat the frog! Never heard the saying before? Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Translation: Choose the tasks you are least looking forward to, and get them over with first. Then, the rest will seem like smooth sailing.