By Teresa Tanner, Founder + CEO, Reserve Squad
Goals—everybody has them. And typically, the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve signals the need to put them on paper for the upcoming year. Whether it’s drinking more water or updating your resume, committing to a new goal for many begins on January 1.
But it doesn’t have to.
In a recent report from Pinterest, goal-related searches are on the rise—with more people seeking inspiration around goal planning (up 128 percent), goal lists (up 101 percent), big family goals (up 86 percent) and life goals (up 81 percent).
It’s no surprise though, is it? We all have an innate desire to better ourselves in some capacity—but why does it always seem to wait until January 1? Oh that’s right … a little thing called the holidays. We’ve got to regain our energy levels because who has any brain capacity left to think about themselves or make positive changes in the midst of stuffing stockings and icing cookies?
That’s why a more realistic time to set new routines and put pen to paper is when you feel your best. Maybe that’s on your birthday or like many, maybe it’s in the fall—prior to the craziness of shopping, baking and holiday events kicks in. It doesn’t really matter when you decide to begin—just that you push aside the excuses of “waiting until the new year is here.” Because in reality, making changes today would help you live your life in a better and more authentic way. Who doesn’t want that?
So how do you bring your goals to life instead of waiting to flip the calendar from December to January?
What did you enjoy most this summer—or even earlier this year? Reflecting on the highlights will serve as the perfect opportunity to identify what is meaningful to you. What felt fulfilling? What needs to change? Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish by the end of the year and ensure they are ‘SMART’ goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. For example, if you need some career advice, perhaps commit to something like, “I will schedule a coffee date with my mentor next month.” It’s simple and actionable—just what you need in the first stage.
Before setting any goal, it’s imperative to identify your intentions behind it. Are you making a change because you want or need it? Or, do you feel like you have to? Instead of setting goals based on what you think you should be doing, set goals on what you truly want. This isn’t about anyone else; it’s about you. Don’t compare your goals to anyone else’s and don’t overcommit. Just do you. #shedyourshoulds
We all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day—and neither will your goal overhaul. No matter the goal you choose—whether it’s starting a side hustle or finding more balance in your life—you’ll benefit from starting small and focusing on one thing only. If you have too many goals, they’ll most likely be unfocused—and if you choose something too big? Probability says you won’t know where to start. Avoid all of that and prioritize a singular goal and then always take the next step toward it. Ask yourself, “What’s the next best step I can take today to get there?” Easy and efficient. And, ultimately it will allow for more dreaming and doing more.
Give Yourself Grace
New goals can often feel incredibly daunting—especially if it’s something you’ve never done before (like running a 5K or giving up caffeine). That’s why positive self-talk and being flexible are must-dos. It’s never too late to make a change—even if you don’t begin until December! If you find yourself struggling with your attitude or feel overwhelmed, enlist an accountability partner. This should be a friend, family member or mental health peer who you can count on to help you stick to your word. He or she will nudge you when you need nudging and celebrate the victories along the way. Recognize that you are taking on something new and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Change isn’t easy—even though it’s constant in life. There will be setbacks along the way. You won’t drink the three bottles of water you said you would; you’ll forget to schedule self-care time one week. Setbacks are natural—and that’s why you’ve got to be patient with yourself. Give yourself some grace and find joy in the journey. The simple act of making a goal and working towards accomplishing it means you’ve already won.
Need some help getting started or want an accountability partner? Balanced Endeavors can help. Our monthly group coaching sessions help you stay focused and accountable for your goal plan. Choose a day and time that works for you. We’ll provide resources and tips throughout the month to keep you motivated and inspired. We’re here when you’re ready.