Today we’ll continue talking about the process of effective goal-setting, as we focus on our goals for the New Year.
If you’ve come up with your list of 3-4 things you’d like to work on, and refined it until you know what accomplishing that goal really means and the steps it will take to do it, then you are ready for the next step.
Here I want to note, however, that ONE goal is perfectly fine. In fact, some research suggests that we do better focusing on one thing at a time, versus multiple things. Research also says that it takes about 66 days to make something a habit. So, if you’d like to do one thing at a time – make a goal for 66 days – that is an excellent way to build habits toward a larger goal.
It can help to write it as a SMART goal:
Specific – specific goals motivate you better than vague ones
Measurable – how will you know you’ve achieved it?
Attainable – is it a stretch, but still possible? (Too easy and you’ll be bored. Too hard and you’ll be discouraged.)
Realistic – are you able and willing to work toward this goal at this time?
Timely – set a timeframe within which you plan to reach your goal
Whatever you do, I suggest that you get a notebook (if you haven’t already) so that you physically write down your goals, and keep track of your progress. How you do this is up to you, but the physical act of writing down your intentions for each day is a great way to focus and keep you motivated. And yes, I suggest doing this by hand. There is a vital connection between your brain and your hand moving a pen on paper, that cannot be replicated on a computer. It slows you down, and activates a different part of your brain.
Habit-tracking apps are also good to track your progress. I use Habitbull, but there are many out there. Try one or two to see which suits you best. These are great for “not breaking the chain” as you generally check off or otherwise indicate whether or not you’ve achieved your goal that day. I like Habitbull because it’s very flexible. You can create any type of goal, and put down how often you’d like to do it, and it reminds you if you haven’t checked in that day. If you prefer to use a big wall calendar and check off the days with a big red X, that’s fine too! Whatever you do, make sure you can see your progress. Or lack thereof – sometimes seeing 10 blanks in a row is as strong as motivator as seeing 10 X’s.
Get a buddy: try pairing up with someone (or several someones) for mutual support. You don’t all have to have the same goal. You can check in (I recommend weekly) to stay motivated. Support and accountability are key to creating habits that lead to accomplishing your goals.
So, what are your goals for the New Year? Do you have a plan? I have some things that are short-term habits (take vitamins daily) and some longer-term (revise one of my novels and send it out). I like to put down next steps, e.g. “work on my novel 30 minutes per day.” It might not seem like much, but the idea is to be realistic about the time I have. If I have more, I can write longer. My steps will change as I go through the process.
So, if anyone cares to share their list, let us know in the comments!