New Year Reset
What goals do you want to accomplish next year? What visions do you hope to manifest?
2017 was a weird year for me and for many of us. I have a lot to be grateful for, but a lot I would like to release. This little down-time between the holidays and the New Year is the perfect time to reflect and re-evaluate – to take a step back and assess where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to go.
How to Manifest What You Want
Most of us set resolutions and begin the year with the best of intentions. But if we don’t have an action plan in place, the odds that we will follow through are not great.
In order to manifest those visions and accomplish those goals, we have to clear space in our lives and make time in our schedules for activities dedicated to achieving those goals.
And then we need to break down those goals and structure our lives so that step by step, our goals, dreams, and visions eventually become our reality.
Part 1: Practical Goal-Setting
Define Your Big-Picture Goals
Now is the time to reflect and re-evaluate. What do you want most? What do you want to accomplish in the new year? Is it to finally change careers? Write a book? Start a new business? Do you want to focus on cultivating meaningful relationships or spending more time with loved ones?
Whatever you want, write it down. Putting down on paper your goals is the first step to turning that dream into a reality. Want proof? Read about a study on Harvard MBAs and the surprising difference between those who set goals versus those who didn’t, not to mention the astonishing findings on those who actually wrote them down.
Break Things Down
Once you’ve honed in on your main goals, break them down into specific, actionable steps. The more specific you are, the more you are likely to follow through with each task.
Many of us tend to bite off more than we can chew. It’s best to focus on one major goal at a time. Block schedule your days and put major deadlines into your calendar, working backwards to break down the tasks necessary to complete each task by that date.
It’s also best to schedule your most important tasks into your planner. It’s easy to get caught up with the mundane yet necessary tasks like going through emails, but if we don’t schedule specific times in our day to deal with each task, the larger, more important tasks often fall by the wayside.
Part 2: Strategies for Success
Clearing out your physical space is an important step in making the space to accomplish your goals. When you declutter your environment—be it your desk, a closet, or your kitchen—you shake up any stuck or stagnant energy. This helps you think more clearly. You eliminate perceived obstacles, and bonus – getting organized saves you time spent looking for things lost in the clutter!
Assess How You Spend Your Time
What occupies your day? Is your time spent actually being productive, or on mundane housekeeping and distraction? In order to clear up space for the big, important projects, identify and eliminate “time drains” in your life—tasks that take up time but produce minimal results or benefits.
Things like mindlessly checking email, social media, Netflix, and attending to headlines and news alerts take up a surprising amount of time. Over the course of a day (or even better – a full week), make a detailed account of how you spend your time, in 15 or 30 minute increments. (I suggest using a spreadsheet like the ones available here).
Once you are aware of how you actually spend your time, you can be more deliberate about setting up your schedule and making sure you stay on task for each time block. Make every minute count!
Learn to Say No
Do you constantly feel ‘busy’? Perpetually find yourself pressed for time? This is a good sign you need to start saying no. Even if you become incredibly efficient in time usage, it is impossible to keep up with every single demand for your time. Prioritize the activities that are most productive or support you in your overall success – like self-care and spending time with friends and loved ones – and be very selective about everything else.
Unless the task or event is meaningful, enriching, or will move you forward in your goals, don’t feel bad about saying no. Be protective of both your time and your energy!
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal might not sound like a ‘productive’ use of your precious time, but it can actually help to free you up mentally. Writing down your thoughts can help you to organize them, and can help end the thought loops that distract you from your tasks. Take a few minutes each day to jot them down, and perhaps consider keeping a separate ‘ideas’ notebook or folder on your computer which you can return to later.
Be Intentionally Efficient
While this might sound like a no-brainer to some and odd to others, complete each task and don’t be lazy or careless with even mundane things like putting away your clothes or hanging your keys on the hook when you walk through the door. Put your clothes in the hamper or on a hanger rather than letting them pile up on a chair, sort through the mail as soon as you get it rather than letting it pile up, and wash and prep your produce at the beginning of the week. Completing simple daily tasks as efficiently and completely as possible can help you stay organized and save time.
With any goal in life, it’s all about taking small steps in the right direction. Start by clearing out your desk or workspace, and then identify what it is you want to accomplish this year. Create an action plan and write down the steps that you need to take in your calendar and/or planner.
With a little practice and intentional effort, you’ll soon find that you’re spending more time on the things that matter most.