Reflections and Intentions
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and set our goals and intentions for the year ahead. Below is a list of 10 tips that will help you set and stick to your goals in 2019.
There's a sense of freshness and renewal that comes with the start of a new year. This makes it the perfect time for us to jump into new endeavors. I know what you are going to say..."But we all set our new year's resolutions and then we completely forget about them 2 weeks later." This is true in many cases. However, there are some strategies you can use that will increase the likelihood of you sticking to your goals in the new year. Below are a few tips to keep in mind as you start to make your new year's resolutions (although these can be useful at any time of the year).
1. Reflect. Start by looking back over the past year. When you look back on 2018, what are you grateful for? What have been your biggest wins? Where have you grown? What would you do differently? Thank this past year for what it has taught you as you start to look ahead.
2. Brainstorm. Begin your goal-setting for the new year with a brain dump. Just sit down and brainstorm all of the things you would like to accomplish or achieve in the next year. You may even start with brainstorming things you would like to achieve in the next year, 3 years, 5 years, etc. This can help you clarify those that are the highest priority and set realistic goals for the next 12 months. I recommend using a word document or good old-fashioned pen and paper and letting your brain explore its deepest desires.
3. Organize. It can be helpful to organize your goals into different life areas. I have organized my personal goals into the domains of intellectual goals, spiritual goals, physical health goals, career goals, financial goals, creative goals, and social goals. This will help you see how you can grow in different areas of your life that are important to you.
4. Visualize. Create a vision board of your goals. This can be through creating a physical vision board using images and words from magazines, etc. or it can be a digital vision board created through a platform like Pinterest or assembling images relevant to your goals in other ways. When you have visual reminders of the things you want for yourself, it can help keep your mind focused on achieving your goals.
5. Prioritize. Choose a couple goals to start with and identify the primary habits you will need to develop to reach this goal. If you try to tackle all your new goals at once, you will likely feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and many of the new habits you are trying to develop will likely fizzle out. Instead, by focusing on just a couple new habits or tasks at a time you are more likely to see them through. Choose those goals that are the most important for you to start right now.
6. Link habits. Think about any habits or goals that can be paired together. This could be adding a habit to something you already do. For example, I wanted to start the habit of waking up at 6:00AM in the morning to have more productive days. Once I started waking up at 6:00AM consistently, I added the habit of starting my morning with 5 minutes of mindful breathing before I got out of bed. Once I was regularly doing those two steps, I decided to add in the habit of at least 30 minutes of physical movement (walking, running, yoga, etc.). The extra time in my day from waking up early also allowed me more time to fit in my goal of reading for at least 1 hour a day. Linking new habits with established ones can make you more successful in getting new habits to stick.
7. Get accountable. Talk to other people about your goals! Research shows that when we tell others about a goal we are working on we are more likely to follow through with them. Find a trusted friend or family member to talk to about your goals. Better yet, find someone who can join you! A little bit of healthy competition can keep us motivated to be successful.
8. Get tracking. Keeping a running list of the actions related to your goals that you want to achieve that week can help you to be mindful of your goals on a daily basis. For example, I keep a small notebook on my desk where I keep my weekly goals/to-dos on the left and a daily list of my top 3 priorities for that day on the right. I then place a small check next to each item I accomplish on my list during the day. This has been extremely helpful in tracking my habits and being intentional about the steps I am taking towards the goals I have set for myself. It's also extremely rewarding to have a visual reminder of the progress we are making.
9. Check-in. It's important to regularly assess the progress you are making towards your goals. My recommendation would be to find a time at least once a week (at minimum, once a month) where you can do a review of what you have completed towards your goals. Notice which accomplishments you can savor and, if things fell short, what got in the way.
10. Celebrate! When you have accomplished a goal you have set for yourself, make sure that you are taking the time to savor your success. You have worked hard! Do something kind for yourself to honor the work you have put in to achieve your goal. Make sure to celebrate the small victories along the way if you have a larger goal that you are working towards.
I hope that some of the tips above are helpful as you look forward to the coming year. What do you want this new year to hold for you? What is your vision? My hope is that each of you would thrive this year and that it brings you closer to a well-nourished life.
Danielle Neddo, PsyD © 2018
Hardy, D. (2010). The compound effect. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press.
Duhigg, C. (2014). The power of habit. New York, NY: Random House Trade Paperbacks.