I absolutely hate New Year’s resolutions. They’re far too often a trendy, superficial excuse to be obsessed with weight loss and make false promises.
“This is the year,” we say, “that I’ll be more adventurous, or more grateful, or more generous” – all the while not writing down a single way we’ll make that happen.
But I’m a huge fan of goals in general.
In fact, setting measurable, attainable goals for 2013 has pretty much changed my life. It’s been a wonderful year, and I think that’s largely true because I set goals and pursued them.
Here are some of the lessons from my 2013 goals that I’m taking with me as I prepare goals for 2014. I hope these might be helpful for you, too, as you pursue your own dreams and draft your own resolutions:
1. Spend plenty of time planning.
The most meaningful goals are often more about who you want to become than all the things you want to do. That means you have to do a little future-thinking to set good goals. You have to take the time to ask yourself what type of impact you want to have on the world. I spent two months planning out my goals for 2013, and while my list will be much shorter this year, I want it to be just as thoughtful.
2. Start your “year” around your own important events.
Your goals should be personal and unique, so start pursuing them in the best way for you. I set mine to start on my birthday. Perhaps you have a graduation coming up, or a vacation from which you’ll be returning. Those are better jumping off points than the trendy and fleeting New Year season.
3. Every goal must be measurable.
As an example taken from the writing world, this means a certain number of words written per day, or query letters submitted, etc. Not just “I want to be a better writer.”
4. Write down your goals, and share them with others.
This is non-negotiable and backed by research. You have to be serious enough to write down exactly what you plan to do, and then get accountability from other people, like a select group of 2-3 close friends.
5. Only set one “every day” goal as a max.
If you have the goal to write every day in 2014, for example, that will take plenty of your emotional energy. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much to do/remember.
6. Revisit your goals all the time.
I had so many goals for 2013 that I revisited them almost every day. When I don’t make that my routine, I tend to become lazy and forgetful about what I originally set out to do and why. I also included notes with my written goals about why I wanted to accomplish each one. This was helpful to come back to, because if my motivations changed during the year I could alter my goals to match.
7. Lastly, make sure to record where you are when you start.
I found it handy to keep a personal journal this year. I can’t wait to take some time on my birthday to look back at where I was one year ago. (Literally: I was in Melbourne. Figuratively: I was in a rut.)
Here’s to smart, successful goals for the coming year – goals that make better people and better artists out of all of us.