When one year has ended and a new one has started, we tend to look back at the months and reflect on all we did. At work, we look at our yearly or quarterly goals and track their completion and success. In our personal lives, we look at critical events, such as marriage, having a baby or buying a house and how they’ve affected us.

Facebook creates a Year in Review for you, showing who your biggest fans are and how many new “Friends” you made. Spotify tells you how many hours of music you listened to and what songs were the most played on your list. More and more services are creating a review for you to look back on.

goal setting

With so much to review, it’s important to take time and reflect on the things that made you the most excited and gave you a feeling of living a fuller life. With these things in mind, it’s time to set goals for your next year! Setting goals helps you stay focused on what matters and gives you more reason to keep doing the things you love.

Many times, goals are made for the new year and are quickly broken. This is because goals take commitment and strategic planning, which most people don’t take the time to complete. To help you set and complete your new year goals, follow these tips:

Make your goals SMART. You’ve probably heard it before, but goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. Get specific about what you want, make it realistic in terms of what you have the power to do, actionable through clear steps, set on a timeline and make it easily measurable for success. These steps are critical in defining your goals and creating an outline of how you’ll achieve them.

Don’t choose too many! Getting over-ambitious can be a nail in the coffin for your goals before you even start the new year. The time you begin to feel overwhelmed is the time when you’re likely to veer off your path. Choose 3-5 goals to achieve throughout the year. If you overcome all of them before the year is through, set more goals!

goal setting notebook

Envision yourself completing the goal. The power of the mind has been attributed to many successful people. In detail, envision how you will achieve the goal, and what each step will look like. Then, imagine how you’ll feel when you complete your goal, how it will affect your life, what you’ll be able to do once it’s done, etc. If you can’t see yourself completing your goal, you’re less likely to achieve it.

Break down your goals into manageable chunks. If you have a big goal that seems scary and unachievable, you won’t achieve it. Not unless you break it down into smaller parts! Make yourself milestones and set a timeline to hit each one, in days, weeks and months. This helps you to stay on track and know when you’re veering off. Your goal doesn’t have to take all year to complete, but it should be broken into steps to be done in a specific and timely order.

Example: If you want to learn a new language, make a goal to purchase and use Rosetta Stone for the first few months of the year. Then, join a group or online community for people learning and teaching the language. Finally, set a date to meet with a teacher or new friend and speak only your new language over coffee.

Share your goals. Tell your friends and family about the goals you’ve set. Post it online, bring it up at the holiday dinner table or even make a bet with someone who will hold you to your goal and the consequence of not completing it. This helps to keep you accountable because no one wants to publicly fail! It also helps to have a supportive community around you, lifting you up, soliciting advice or pushing you a little further than you’d go on your own. It’s even better if a friend sets the same goal with you and you work towards it together!

Give yourself small rewards. If you never reward yourself or loosen your own grip on your strict goal, you’ll give up quickly. You must be able to celebrate your wins, even if they are just a step in the overall goal.

If you get off track, don’t give up. It is human nature to get off track and to become distracted or less motivated. When you begin to veer, simply reset yourself the next day. Don’t completely give up, but also don’t say you’ll start again next week. If you veer for too long, you’re less likely to achieve your goal.

With all this in mind, you’ll be off to a great start to achieving your new year’s goals. With some prep, dedication and hopefully a friend or two, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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