Planning for the New Year ahead includes making resolutions for many, many people. But setting goals is an even more powerful way to set your course for the future.
While making resolutions and establishing goals may seem like the same side of the coin, there are differences. While a goal determines a course of action that you follow over time, resolutions represent a great intent – but one which often fades quickly when the results aren’t instantaneous.
Moreover, by taking baby steps along the way as you work toward your goal you experience the sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully making each step.
Here’s a look at how to set goals now that will provide focus and a path to follow in 2018.
1. Take a personal inventory
Before you decide where you want to go in the future, it’s essential to determine how you feel in the present. What’s your current satisfaction level with your life? Take a few hours to evaluate and reflect while developing the foundation for where you want to start.
2. Think about what you’d like to add to your life
It’s helpful to change your focus from the behaviors and habits you want to get rid of to the healthy, productive actions you want to add. For example, instead of saying you want to stop eating unhealthy food, focus on eating more healthy food instead.
3. Define dreams and goals
Once you’ve done a personal inventory, take some time to write down your dreams and goals. And it’s not about what you already have or what you have done, but what you truly want. Everyone has dreams, and your task is to uncover those that mean the most to you. Write down all of your dreams, no matter how outlandish they may seem. What thoughts and dreams excite you the most? Once you’ve written them all down, prioritize them by order of importance.
4. Make S.M.A.R.T goals
You may have heard of the acronym S.M.A.R.T. before, but it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. Once you’ve dreamed big and prioritized your goals, make sure that they fall into all of the categories:
• Specific – Be specific about your goals. Incomplete goals produce incomplete futures.
• Measurable – Make sure that your goals are specifically measurable.
• Attainable – Don’t set your goals so high that they’re unattainable.
• Realistic – Your goals have to be real in your current life situation. There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals, but they need to be realistic, too.
• Time – You should always attach a timeframe to every goal. One of the great things about goals is that they have an end and you’re working toward accomplishing them in a specific period. There’s nothing wrong with breaking bigger goals down into smaller goals with different timeframes.
5. Always keep your goals where you can see them
Once you’ve written down your goals, make sure they’re somewhere you can easily see them – whether they’re in a notebook, a part of your screen saver, or on post-it notes that you place around your house.
Most of us have made New Year’s resolution at some time in our lives. Setting goals, however, often have more impact and define your journey ahead. And now’s the time to establish your goals for 2018.