As the year draws to an end, it is crucial for you prepare for the new year before it gets here. However, doing so in the midst of the holiday season can be daunting. This is why having a road map and taking it one step at a time is important.
Although January 1 provides the ultimate fresh start, it is by no means the only opportune time for new beginnings. In fact, if you do not accomplish everything on this list by the struck of midnight on December 31st, you can still tackle each item at your own pace. The below recommendations are not limited by time. So whether you are reading this post in December or June you can use these tips whenever you are in need of a reset.
A time of reflection can make or break your new year. You should make it a priority to take an honest look at the year you had: the good, the bad and the ugly because the only way to learn and move forward is to acknowledge what truly happened or is still going on. You must ask yourself, “How did I get to where I am today?”, “Am I happy with where I am?”, “What should I repeat?”, “What should I avoid?”, “What did I accomplish?”, “Where did I fall short?”. And the most important question of all: “Why?” Looking back to look forward is essential.
2. GET A PLANNER
Whether it is digital or physical, a planner will do wonders for your productivity. It will help keep you on track with your goals and centralize the information you need to function on a daily basis. You can use it to schedule meetings, break down goals into smaller daily tasks and keep track of your spending. Regardless of the medium you use, find the best way for you to stay organized. Make sure you commit to using your planner for the next 12 months. Don’t be afraid to tweak it as new needs arise and life changes occur.
3. SET S.M.A.R.T. GOALS
Goals are only wishes until you put in place the necessary parameters to make them a reality. This is where setting S.M.A.R.T. goals comes into play.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are: (There are a few different versions of this acronym but this is the one I use.)
S – specific. Describe exactly what you want to achieve. The more detailed the better because as Zig Ziglar said: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
M – measurable. Each of your goals should have a performance metric attached to it. Words like “more” or “better” are too vague in comparison to numbers. Here is an example. If your goal is to be better at managing your finances, S.M.A.R.T. goals could be to save 15% of your income or decrease your spending by 20%.
A – actionable. An actionable goal will contain an action verb. For example: if your goal is to become a better writer, a S.M.A.R.T. goal could be to write 5 pages every morning for the next 30 days.
R – realistic. Your goals must challenge your comfort zone but not be overly farfetched to the point where failure is inevitable.
T – time-bound. Attach a deadline to your goals. A specific date by which you plan on reaching your objective. It will give you a target to work towards while also helping you breakdown your goal into smaller steps that will ultimately help you meet the deadline.
Lastly, your goals should not only live in your head. Write them down by hand because the very act of putting pen to paper sets things in motion letting your brain know that you are serious about this. Writing your goals will also help you determine whether they are S.M.A.R.T. goals or not.
4. DEVELOP ROUTINES
I cannot stress the importance of this point enough. Craft a morning routine for yourself around your goals, priorities and how you want to feel when you start your day. Because I want to feel calm, motivated and full of energy, my morning routine includes eating a good breakfast, praying and working out. Your nighttime routine should be developed around preparing you for the next day and insuring you have a good night sleep. Moreover, did you know that humans can only make a limited amount of sound decisions each day before getting decision fatigue? Establishing routines and predetermining certain things will help you save energy for important decisions instead of wasting brainpower on what you are going to wear or eat in the morning. Decide on those things the night before. Developing a morning and a nighttime routine was a game changer for me.
5. START A READING LIST
The more you read, the more you know! Knowledge and education are high values for me and one of the many ways I have improved on a variety of skills has been by reading books. Think about it, everything you could ever want to learn or almost, can be found in a book. In addition, the information in the books you read will not only teach you but also save you time and help you avoid costly mistakes. There are 6 books on my 2018 reading list so far. Your list doesn’t need to be documented in a blog post like mine. You can simply keep a note on your phone and add books to it as you get recommendations or discover new books and authors.
6. REVIEW RECURRING PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS
You know those charges that silently debit your credit cards without you even noticing? They can be magazine subscriptions, memberships or apps you pay for on a monthly or yearly basis without even thinking about it. Now is the time to comb through your credit card statements and determine whether those expenses are still relevant for your life.
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Happy New Year!