It's the new year and I did what all the commercials and pop culture have told me to do... I've created a New Year's resolution list. It feels good to have established lofty goals for myself this year but now I feel pretty stuck on how to actually achieve them. Most of my goals involve improving my organization and time management methods because - well, let's just say I'm not exactly great at that stuff. Establishing the goals feels like the first step in the right direction but I need help with actually making sure I do the work.

Happy New Year and congratulations on acknowledging some of your personal challenges from the previous year. You're absolutely right, that is the first step in the right direction! You've come to the right place for guidance on what those next steps should be and how you can execute them. I'd like to share these 6 steps to successful goal setting with you as I'm sure they'll help you in ultimately achieving those resolutions.

Step 1: Take ownership.

It seems like you've already done an awesome job at this one. Taking ownership is always going to be the first thing you want to do when setting new goals for yourself. This just means taking time to understand what challenges the new year may present and if you are truly interested in dedicating the time to improve upon/combat them.

Step 2: Keep it simple.

When preparing to tackle your goals, it's important to focus on one goal area at a time. It's easy to become overwhelmed when trying to accomplish multiple goals at once, especially if you also struggle with organization. So, to keep it simple, work on your goals using a hierarchy system. Establish which goal you will benefit from the most, then work your way down the list in that order. You don't need to improve everything at the same time! 

Step 3: Make it SMART.

“SMART goals” is a term we like to use that just means creating goals that are specific, measurable, realistic, achievable, and time-bound. Using SMART goals will provide you with a clear idea of how you can work toward achieving your goals. Oftentimes, we tend to aim for "big picture goals" which are more general and "fuzzy".

An example of a big-picture goal is: "I want to manage my time better." You see how that is pretty broad and lacks the characteristics listed above that a goal should have. The SMART goal version of this would be: "In order to manage my time better, I will begin tasks that require my attention as soon as I get home from work at 6 pm, avoiding distractions like tv, social media, or chatting with friends until all my tasks are complete."

Step 4: Track your progress.

Because SMART goals are measurable, dedicate a consistent cadence to evaluate your progress on each goal. This can be once a week, bi-weekly, or once a month. Choose whatever works for you that you know you will be consistent with.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when tracking your progress:

  • Have you stuck with your goal? If not, what are some of the obstacles that are holding you back?
  • Is this goal still realistic for you? If not, what can you do to modify it?
  • What is a specific action you will take moving forward to ensure you come closer to achieving this goal?

Step 5: Celebrate your progress.

Each time you reflect and evaluate your progress, ensure you're acknowledging and celebrating the small changes you are accomplishing. Even though you may not be at the finish line, it's important to recognize your work and dedication to the goal. Did you do well on 3 out of 5 weekdays last week? Hooray! Try to hit 4 out of 5 the next week. We don't need to be perfect to make progress.

Step 6: Continue owning that new habit.

Don't look at this as just a New Year's resolution because that makes it feel temporary. Achieving this goal is one step closer to your more confident and fulfilled self! Encourage yourself to keep up the new habits that have led you to achieve this goal, and when the time feels right, set new goals.

Now's the perfect time to aim for new goals that help your year be effective and happy. Sure, it's hard to change your habits, but it is so rewarding when you finally achieve your goals. I challenge you to follow these 6 steps this year and make your goals a reality. Remember, it's okay to mess up every once in a while... we all do - the important thing is getting back on track.

You've got the whole year ahead of you, make it one you can feel proud of!

Justice Abbott

Written by Justice Abbott

Justice Abbott is a Content Marketing Associate for Beyond BookSmart, contributing to the marketing department’s efforts to promote executive function skills as a pathway to confidence and personal success. Prior to joining the Beyond BookSmart team, Justice was as a Marketing Assistant for Germono Advertising Company, working closely with small businesses to redirect their social media marketing efforts and increase brand awareness. She’s earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Towson University, with a writing concentration.