The beginning of the new year is an ideal time for self-reflection and setting new goals. A clean slate can be all the motivation you need to initiate change, whether it’s planning to save money, practicing better time management, or going back to school.
Yet, our goals for a more productive and successful year can often go unrealized. In fact, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past February, according to US News. It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see the results of our efforts right away, or when we encounter obstacles or stressors we didn’t plan for.
Nevertheless, there are a few ways you can ensure you’re one of the fortunate 20 percent that will see your resolutions fulfilled.
Here’s how you can implement a long-term plan for success for the coming year:
1. Start small. Setting attainable goals is one of the most important, but frequently overlooked, keys to long-term success. This doesn’t mean that you have to sell yourself short, but be realistic about what you can feasibly accomplish in a year, and what success ultimately looks like for you. If you believe your goal is within reach, you’ll be more likely to stay committed to it.
2. Establish mid-point goals. Hold yourself accountable by setting frequent check-ins throughout the year. For example, if you plan to save a certain amount of money over a period of 10 months, calculate how much you need to save each month in order to achieve your long-term goal. If you want to end the semester with all As and Bs, then decide on a strategy for keeping yourself focused on your academic work each week, whether that means scheduling dedicated time for studying, or working ahead to stay on top of your assignments.
3. Keep track of your progress. Keeping a record of your progress can help you determine whether you’re on track to meet your overall goal by the end of the year. If you find that you might not be able to achieve what you had originally set out to do, it’s OK to adjust your expectations and work toward a more manageable outcome. Remember, you’re doing this for you – there’s no rule that says you can’t change your goals along the way!
4. Celebrate little successes. Keeping track of your progress can spark your motivation – seeing how far you’ve come and what you already have accomplished can be just the inspiration you need to power through the end of the year. Make sure that you take the time to reward yourself for your efforts, and be proud of all the small steps you take to set yourself up for success.
5. Don’t give up. It won’t always be easy, and there will likely be days that you feel discouraged, overwhelmed and just plain tired. Don’t let that deter you, however. Keep your long-term plans in sight, and remember what motivated you to work toward your goals in the first place. Stick with it – you’ll be glad you did.