4 Steps to Help You Continue to Grow in the New Year
At the end of every year, many people take time to evaluate what they have accomplished in the past 12 months, reflect on what they didn’t achieve, and make New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. Unfortunately, most people do not follow through on their resolutions; in fact, a study by Statistic Brain Research Institute found that only 8% of people are successful in achieving them.
So what works? Setting goals. And if you write these goals down, you are 42% more likely to achieve them, according to a study conducted at Dominican University in California. To get you started, here are four steps to help you evaluate the past year and set goals for the coming 12 months.
1. Ask yourself questions.
Have a list of questions to help you evaluate what you did and did not accomplish over the past year, such as:
- What did I do well this year?
- What did I achieve that I had set out to do?
- What did I not do well this year?
- What did I not achieve that I wanted to?
- Why was I able to achieve some goals over others?
- What could I do better?
- What am I doing that I should no longer be doing?
- What am I not doing that needs to be done?
- What didn’t work and what changes can I make to be successful?
Write down both the questions and your answers in a notebook so that you can review them at the end of the year, evaluate your progress, and determine how you should move forward in the coming year. Keeping your responses from previous years will also enable you to see how you are growing over time.
2. Write down realistic big-picture goals.
Think about what you want to do in your life and make big-picture goals to get there. These goals can be about your career, your finances, education, family, health, etc. Then, start breaking your big-picture goals into smaller, easily achievable goals with specific deadlines. These smaller goals let you know what needs to be accomplished in the short term so that you can achieve your long-term objectives. When writing these goals down, remember the word SMART, which stands for goals that are:
SMART goals help you clarify what you want to achieve, motivate you to take the appropriate actions, see and celebrate your progress, and overcome resistance.
3. Prioritize your goals.
There are two ways to prioritize your goals. You can rate them on a scale, with the lowest number representing the goal that is extremely important to you right now, and the highest number representing the one that is not a priority at this time. A second way is to give yourself a deadline to accomplish your goals. This helps you to know which ones to work toward now, and which can wait until later in the year.
To help you prioritize your goals, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which goals do I think about the most?
- In five (or 10) years, which big-picture goals are the most important to have achieved and which small goals must I complete to get there?
- Which goals are fully in my control and are not dependent on other people or circumstances?
- Which goals can fit into my current lifestyle?
4. Make an action plan.
Action planning helps you transform your objectives into attainable goals, work effectively under pressure, set and meet your deadlines, and create a contingency plan if necessary. Using this process, you can identify the objectives you want to achieve over a given period of time and the chronological steps needed to achieve them. Then you can break your goals into one-day tasks that you can easily accomplish. Each day’s tasks will be different from the day before and will help you move toward your goal.
Make sure the goals you set are important to you, not those that others set for you. Follow your action plan so that you can take the appropriate steps toward achieving them rather than repeating the unsuccessful steps of the past. And keep your list of objectives in a place where you can see them often—this visual reminder will help motivate you to keep working toward, and eventually achieve, your goals.9