At this time of year many of us set our minds to planning for the year ahead. You might have already set a new year’s resolution, but with only 8 per cent of people managing to successfully achieve their resolution each year, we thought we’d offer a helping hand. Here are a few tips to help you on your way to making this your best year yet:
1. Make your goals SMART!
Whether you’re setting a series of goals for the year ahead, or one great big resolution, it’s important to make it a “SMART” goal. Of course, we all remember the term “SMART” from school or work annual review meetings, but do any of us actually follow those principles?
A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Agreed-upon, Realistic and Time-based. Here’s the thing: you could say your new year’s resolution is “to lose weight” - and then you could remove your jumper, step on the scale, and - lo and behold - you’ve lost weight! But we’re fairly sure that’s not what you meant when you made the resolution.
The more specific you can be in the wording of your original goal, the more chance you’ll have of achieving it - and knowing when you have. So rather than “lose weight” you might say “I want to lose ten pounds by June 1st” - then when you step onto the scale on June 1st, you know for definite whether you have achieved that.
2. Be mindful.
The problem with new year’s resolutions is that right now, there’s probably lots of motivation. Everyone is talking about resolutions and goals for the year ahead; there will be fitness shows galore on the TV in the coming months and all sorts of self development literature and aids will be on special offer in every shop we walk into.
By the time we get to February though, the TV has gone back to reality shows and the shops are focused on Valentine’s Day and Easter. Nobody is asking you what your goal was, and it can be hard to stay on track. Mindfulness can play a massive part in helping you to achieve your goals, whatever they are. When we are able to stay mindful and present in the moment, we don’t forget what we were aiming for.
We all know how easy it is to just find ourselves on auto-pilot and forget that we had resolved to meditate in the mornings, or to not eat cake with lunch, or whatever that resolution was. When you’re mindful and present in the moment you’re able to check in with yourself before doing things, and check that this action is in line with your overall goal. Check out our blog on how to incorporate mindfulness into your day.
3. Write it down.
This one sounds so simple it can’t possibly make a difference but actually, writing down your goals, and referring back to that list on a regular basis, can help you to stay on track. You might think to yourself on January 1st, “yeah, I’d like to increase my income this year” and then be so busy in your day to day life that you don’t think about that goal until pay day at the end of January, and each month after that.
If you have your goals written down and refer back to them on a regular basis you can ensure you are staying on track to achieve what you set out to do. It also helps to have a little accountability, so it’s worth telling people what you’re planning to achieve. We’d love to help you with this so why not write down your goals for 2017, take a photo and share it on social media using #myscentered2017. We’d love to see what your goals are, and to help you achieve them if we can.
4. Break it down
Whatever your goal or resolution, try to break it down into small, manageable chunks. Using the example we had above of losing 10 pounds by June 1st, you might split that down into a weekly target for weight loss. For a more complicated goal like “start my own business” you might need to find a big piece of paper and make a big brain dump of all the things you’d need to do to achieve that goal.
Once you have your list you can plan out a series of mini-goals so that you know what you need to do and when, in order to achieve that big goal. Again, you might think this sounds a bit too simple to be effective but just having that list written down in black and white can really help you to achieve your goals - and never underestimate how motivating it can be to begin ticking things off that list!
5. Use an app
There are some brilliant apps out there that can help you to stay mindful and on track with your goals. Goals on Track is a goal-setting and productivity app which guides you through the process of setting goals and helps you to stay on track to achieving them.
Another great app is LifeTick which is quite similar to Goals on Track, but it also allows you to invite friends to view your progress. There’s also a LifeTick for business, so you can set team goals and work together to achieve them, assigning tasks to individual members.
Habit List is great for those of us setting a goal to take up a new habit, such as daily meditation. It allows you to track how many days you have (or have not) done something, such as meditating, drinking enough water, or not watching TV. It shows you data to allow you to track progress over time - great for seeing whether there’s a particular day of the week or time of the month that is easier or more difficult for you.
There are hundreds of apps out there that can help you to achieve your goals, and since your mobile is probably the one thing that goes everywhere with you, it makes sense to use it for more than just taking photos and browsing the internet!