As January rapidly comes to a close, you may be wondering what you’ve managed to achieve so far on this new trip around our solar system. If you’re struggling to compile a list of what that looks like, you’re not alone.
We often begin the New Year with a heap of hopes, enthusiasm, resolutions and goals. We make promises to ourselves that this will be the year we achieve everything we’ve popped on our list. While we’ll often make good headway for the first week or so, often by the end of (a long) January, our ideals have slipped and old patterns have once more taken over.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. The concept of the new year brings with it an inordinate amount of pressure to change, without any real thought behind just how difficult any kind of change can be. This is especially true when a big area of life, such as our career or business, is the core focus of said change.
Rather than meeting the end of January feeling deflated that the desired changes haven’t really taken off yet, it’s much more realistic (and compassionate) to view it as another opportunity to review, refresh and try again.
Time to Reboot
Below are five simple ways to do this. Some might work for you, some might not – use them as a guideline and see what comes out of it. You can adapt these to work for any change you might be trying to implement:
1. Break it down into smaller, achievable goals
It’s great to have grandiose ideas of what you want to accomplish with the new year, but only keeping your eyes on the final prize means you’ll miss out on the small wins you achieve along the way.
Take your goal and really think about the individual steps needed to achieve it. One recommendation I’ve found that works for me, is to break my goal into 12 parts – one for each month – and to put these into some sort of order I’d like to achieve them in. It’s good to keep this flexible as you never know what opportunities will come your way, but this structure means you’ll have manageable monthly goals to be working towards that should all culminate in achieving your bigger picture.
When you do look back at the end of the month, it will also help you realise that you’ve achieved more than you think, while still working towards the end goal.
2. Create a realistic timeframe
One of the core reasons we often fail to achieve our goals is because we create unrealistic time frames in which to achieve them. When we’re looking for a new job we do all the things we’re supposed to do – update the CV, tidy up the social media, brush up on our interview technique, send out application after application – and we expect immediate results. It’s hard to maintain our motivation when this doesn’t happen.
When planning for a change or new goal, make sure you consider what a realistic timeframe is. When it comes to job hunting, I’ve found that 3 months seems to be the sweet spot for success, so if this is a change I’m focusing on, I try to keep this timeframe in mind.
If you achieve it sooner – great! That’s a fresh hit of motivation to keep going.
3. Resources resources resources!
Really think about what you need to help you move towards positive results and keep you on track. A few areas to consider:
- Practical things like diary planners, stationery, or software to support your goal
- Websites and/or social media pages that inspire, motivate and inform you
- Networking groups or organisations relevant to your field/interest (on and offline)
- A professional mentor
- Books or literature to build your knowledge
- Support with family life
It’s really easy to scoop up as much resource as you can without really discerning if it’s useful. Make sure you apply a critical eye and don’t spend too much energy with something that doesn’t add value or help you move towards achieving your goal. It’s okay to say ‘no thanks’ if it’s not for you.
4. Be brave and take the plunge
Something I have been consistently guilty of is creating all these step-by-step goal structures as a way of putting off the really big steps that matter. As a freelance writer, that often means putting all the prep into writing a piece and creating a pitch .. and then not actually sending it.
Don’t get too wrapped up in the process and end up procrastinating or avoiding taking meaningful steps forward. Whether that’s pitching to that new dream client, launching the website, booking in for that course, asking for the payrise – whatever it might be – make sure you take the plunge and go after what you really want when you’re ready for it.
5. Don’t beat yourself up
You will no doubt know it by now: failure is a part of any game. Sure, you might get knocked back or fall out of sync with your carefully planned 12-step path to achieving ‘The Goal’ – and that’s okay.
The great thing about this process is that you can hit the reboot button at any point – not just the beginning of a new year! Don’t beat yourself up if you have to take a step back in order to take three forward. If it’s all helping you to move forward in proactive and positive ways towards the things you want in life, it really doesn’t matter how long that takes.