How to set goals and accomplish them?

Make a fresh start this new year

A very happy new year to you, dear reader.

I know. I’m a week early. But as you will agree, if you’re serious about kicking off a great new year, you shouldn’t wait until January 1st. Now is the time to start thinking about your goals, analyzing your priorities, assessing your progress and plan for the next year. If you haven’t done so already.

A better, more fulfilling life in the year to come –

What does that mean? Different things to different people.

Be it financial success, better career prospects, a more fulfilling relationship, continuing your formal education or embarking on new projects, the beginning of a year is a wonderful time to start afresh. It’s a time to put the past behind, bury negativity, adopt a great, positive attitude and stride into the new year with hope, conviction and a will to work towards your goals.

If you find yourself uncertain about your resolutions or if the whole process of planning for the next year overwhelms you – I suggest you take it one small step at a time.

  1. Spend time with yourself. Sometime during this last week of 2009, go away to your favorite, private hang out. Be it your attic, a lake side bench, the park or your patio, take a notebook, a pen and some coffee along and plan to spend a couple of quiet hours away from all the noise and crowds. Get a babysitter for your kids. Leave worries behind. I prefer to leave my cell phone behind too. Or, at least, turn it off.
  2. Enjoy your moment. Let’s face it. Given today’s lifestyle, who really gets some quite time like this to themselves? I don’t. And I’m pretty sure, you don’t either. So, first of all, enjoy the quiet. Make up your mind that you won’t think about anyone else’s problems for the next couple of hours. Relax. Breathe.
  3. Relaxation leads to contemplation. When you’re relaxed and your mind is free from stress and worries, you experience a strange thing. You feel free to think about YOU. Indulge your thoughts. Write them down in your notebook.
  4. Acknowledge your dreams and thoughts. Do you dream of starting a business, writing a book or finding a new career? Maybe you want to go back to college? Or start a family or travel to an exotic country. Or just find a better job to pay your bills. It doesn’t matter what your dreams are and how many of them you have. Give them some space in your notebook. Writing down your dreams helps you see them in a new light. Maybe you will realize which ones matter to you the most. And which ones you can accomplish more easily and which ones need more effort to be realized.
  5. Categorize your dreams and goals based on timeline. Instead of using ‘long term’ and ‘short term’ to define them, determine a more specific time frame. Which goals can you accomplish in a month? (Losing a few pounds, catching up with old buddies, painting a room in your house or reading 5 books, applying to 20 new jobs?) Some goals will obviously take longer – like writing a book, traveling the world, making a million dollars.
  6. Break it down. Divide these goals into attainable sub-goals. For example, if you want to write a book, maybe you could allocate 1 hour a day, 3 days a week starting January 1st. Or commit to finishing one chapter every month. If your goal is to land a lucrative job in 2010, break down your goals so that you get your resume reviewed by professionals, network with head hunters, locate a few suitable open positions, or find companies you want to work for and complete their application process. This way, even large, seemingly unattainable goals become easier to visualize, manage and accomplish. Bit by bit.
  7. Consider road blocks. By now, you have decided on a few key goals to accomplish in 2010 and have broken them down into less overwhelming bits. Think about what might still stop you from reaching them. Do you need to learn a new language or get a certification? Do you need to find time to write a chapter every day? This is critical. In order to overcome the odds, you need to foresee at least some of them and prepare yourself accordingly. So, now you know, you need to hire a babysitter or request a friend or relative to watch your kids for a few hours once a week, when you write your novel. Or, you need to take a night course to meet certain criteria to find that new job. Maybe, you have to wake up earlier, spend more hours, cut back on spending, move to a different city or make other types of sacrifices in order to reach your goals. You can’t always anticipate all the hurdles, but make up your mind not to let them stop you.
  8. Set up a date with your dreams. Goals are no good if not revisited. Unless you revisit your goals, you won’t know how far you’ve come and how much more you need to do. Before you end your session, set a date and time to come back to your notebook and reassess your strategy. Maybe every 6 weeks. Or 2 months. Maybe each month on your birth date. Whatever you’re comfortable with. Just make sure it’s something you will remember. Put it down in your calendar. Or send yourself an auto-reminder. And on that set day, come back with your notebook and read what you aimed for, what you’ve managed to accomplish and what remains to be done. If you’ve met your goal for that time frame, applaud yourself. If you haven’t, find out what went wrong and work to fix it. There’s nobody watching or judging you. So, be honest with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you lag behind. Stay positive. Stay focused and do what you need to do. If you can honestly say to yourself that you’re doing your best, nothing else matters.
  9. Pick a partner, if you like. For some people, a little positive push from outside works wonders. If you are one of them, choose a close friend or someone you trust to do this whole exercise with you. So, when you’ve written down your goals, you share it with each other and set a date to meet again in a few weeks. When you meet, you listen to each other, provide encouragement, offer suggestions and support. This way, you help keep each other stay motivated and on track, without being judgmental. Just make sure you pick a person with a positive frame of mind who is as committed to his goals as you are to yours and who is truly supportive of you.

From the gotfreecards team – here’s wishing you good luck with your goals and may you make your dreams come true this year.

As a starter, why not make an open commitment? I invite you to share one of your 2010 goals below in the comments.

I’ll start – One of my goals is to get two of my sites redesigned this year to attract more business. Now it’s your turn.