January 1st - You’re all filled with the hope of what the New Year will bring. If you’re like others, you’ve set new goals for yourself, took action to create some mental renewal and put a plan in place to make the most of this year. Now we’re mid-way through the year and things might have stalled a bit. The same level of energy isn’t there like it was at the beginning of the year and you might feel like you’re doing ok, but not going towards your goals with the intensity and purpose you hoped to sustain all year long. Don’t fret, it happens. If the year could be summed up in a week, around this time would be Wednesday. This is the time to assess what you still need to accomplish while thinking of all the fun things you have to look forward to in the months ahead. If you’ve set goals this year and feel you’re a bit off track, this blog is for you and hopefully, you’ll finish reading this with newfound energy to attack the rest of the goal year with gusto.
1. Acknowledge where you are: First things first; you have to get all your cards on the table and acknowledge the situation you are in. Whatever goals you set, whether physically, emotionally, educationally or financially, take a moment to both recognize what you intended to do up until this point and be willing to accept if you’ve either hit or miss your mark at this point. Don’t let guilt or discouragement set in. If you had a goal to lose five inches off your waist and you only lost 2, it’s not the end of the world. If you intended to save $50 a month and only managed to do it 3 out of 6 times thus far, it’s still a step in the right direction. The scale is moving, no matter how slowly, in the direction of progress. From this point on, you can acknowledge where there may be a disconnect somewhere in your process, which brings us to our next point.
2. Track your habits: So we’ve addressed and come to terms with the fact that our goals aren’t on track with what we projected earlier in the year. The next step is to do some quality assurance to see what kinks you can work out in your process. For the next 2-3 weeks, create a log for each of your goals and for each week, have two columns where you’ll write down on one side, everything you did in support of reaching your goal and the other side, things that weren’t in support of the goal. After three weeks, you should be able to draw small patterns in your behavior and link them to what is slowing your progress down. The more detailed the better. If you set a goal to spend $50 a week on food and you see that you practically blew that budget by Tuesday, ask yourself and write down what triggers there might have been that day and any emotions that were prominent. The same can be applied if you wanted to eat healthy 80% of the week and reserve 20% for a cheat meal and you ended up more like 40%/60%. If you can draw conclusions about what triggers your habits as they pertain to your goals, you’ll regain some power and understand what you need to remove or add in order to stay on track. Furthermore, you can start to get a routine when you see what works and what clearly doesn’t work in your favor.
3. Revaluate your goals: Now that you’ve tracked your habits and established patterns, you may want to take a look at your goals and ask questions like 1) Is this goal still in line with my values? 2.) Is this goal realistic? 3.) Does this goal support what I really want? 4.) Do I have a clear enough vision of my end goal? If you answered no to any of these questions, you’ll want to fine-tune the goal so that they can all be ‘yeses’. There’s no quicker way to lose sight of a goal and get discouraged than when you’re unsure about why you’re going towards it and you don’t feel connected to the end result.
4. Automate: Two points ago, we inferred that a set routine, rooted in the evidence base research you did in the 2-3 weeks, could be the answer to reaching your goals. In that same vein, another great thing to do is to automate. If your goal is to pay bills on time, set up auto payments through your billing service. If setting aside $50 for your saving is tough doing when using cash, make it easier to not fail by having your employer auto-deposit that set portion to an account specifically designated for your savings. If you are trying to get fit, automate fitness reminders throughout the day. A workout alarm in the morning, an alarm mid-morning to get some steps in, an alarm mid-afternoon to take a walking telephone meeting and an alarm at night to set out your activewear and any equipment you need for a workout the next morning. If you want to set a budget for discretionary spending each week, set up an app that will track your progress and send you alerts when you’re nearing your max. Or, get a refillable card and when the funds are gone, you’re done until the next week. If you want to start investing and save for retirement, use a financial advisor to help set-up and manage a portfolio for you to take out the guesswork and hassle of monitoring. If you need reminders and assistance like this, that’s not a problem. The beauty of automation is the reduction of the room for human error in order to increase your chances of reaching your goal. If your goal can be supported through any form of automation, take advantage; it’s a boss move.
5. Review progress once a month: Last but not least, you want to make sure you’re checking in on your goals regularly. Starting today, you should be prepared to jot down what progress you’ve made towards your goal each month. Don’t wait until December and say, well there’s always the next year. Take consistent action and advocate for your goals each month. Keep a log and put things like pictures, milestones, thoughts, frustrations, achievements and even new goals. It will be nice to look back on how far you’ve come and to have something concrete to show the progress when it may feel like you’re not getting closer. As with anything new and progressive, it will take time to fully get on board and feel like you’re rocking it 100%, but you have the tools to finish the year off as strongly as you hoped. So, are you ready? You got this!