The end of the year is like a strong summer wind which brings with it the warmth of festivities and tradition, and the awareness that a new year is soon to be upon us – a new year, a new start, brimming with possibilities and opportunities.
And for many of us, just as traditional as being with loved ones, cooking, and decorating the Christmas tree is the action of creating goals for the upcoming year.
Yet many times, we find ourselves falling into the same habits and patterns. At first, we are inspired and begin to ferociously strive towards those goals. As the weeks go by, however, we begin to lose focus, motivation, and become overwhelmed with reality.
To ensure that this year is filled with goal-attainment, here’s a list of strategies which could help.
- Your have limited time and energy. Are you aspiring for goals that are truly important to you?
In economics, the term opportunity cost refers to the loss of potential options when we have chosen an alternative. For example, the $100 you spent on shoes could have been used towards other purposes such as a dinner or a trip out of town. Or the 5 hours you spend in the gym every week could be used towards reading or being with family our friends.
Thus, truly dig in and ask yourself: Is this goal that important to me that I am willing to sacrifice the alternatives? Once you identify that it truly is important to you, move forward enthusiastically, strategically, and conscientiously.
- Write down SMART goals and objectives and post in a visible place
SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Thus, instead of writing vague goals, we should create SMART goals.
For example: I want to work out for at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes each.
Although I don’t always include each characteristic when writing goals, I make sure to articulate my goals so that they are not vague. Furthermore, I create objectives, or steps, towards achieving those goals.
For example, the goal might be “to be happier this year”. This is vague, however, so we need objectives such as “I will hang out with people who inspire me at least once per week” and “I will do Yoga at the gym at least twice per week”.
When creating goals, we should be writing them down. Writing is a powerful tool which gives life, meaning, and energy to our goals. Furthermore, putting your goals up somewhere you can see them (such as on your bathroom mirror) helps you to observe them and to stay motivated.
- Recognize that you exist in a context
Reading articles or relying on motivation to achieve our goals is not enough. We must also optimize our environment and context. For example, if the goal is to “be healthier,” optimizing the context and environment might mean finding a fitness partner or joining a MeetUp group of like-minded individuals.
A friend of mine had an idea for a business that he was passionate about, but he was simply not able to execute it. A couple of years into this, he made the decision to pack his things and head to San Francisco, a place famous for its entrepreneurial spirit. In the first year he had completed much more than he could have ever imagined.
Our environment is just as important, if not more important, than self-education and motivation.
- Take time to reflect and contemplate
Action is one part of the process. We also need consistent reflection and contemplation. Put aside some time each day or each week. Ask yourself: Is this goal still a priority for me? Why is it so important to me? What’s been working and what hasn’t been working? What progress have I made?
If purposeful and persistent action is the boat that takes us there, then reflection and contemplation are like the compass which help us to stay on track and to navigate our way to the point where we aspire to be.
In essence, while most of us have goals and aspirations, the difference in achieving those goals lies in the ability to articulate SMART goals, to create objectives towards those goals, to optimize your environment, and to consistently find time to reflect and contemplate what is happening.
Photo credits: https://unsplash.com/@esteejanssens