It’s that time of the year when we look to kick things off with a bang.
We declare our life-changing goals and decide what habits we’re determined to change in 2018. But as the days in the calendar tick over, many of those goals are quickly forgotten. Before we know it we find ourselves back in the same headspace and resolving to make the same changes as another year begins. Rest assured, you’re not alone. Around 92% of people fail to keep their new year’s resolutions.
I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of setting goals and forgetting about them in the past. But 2017 was very different.
Over 365 days, I set and met some major life goals. I packed up my apartment in Sydney, moved to New York, my favourite city in the world, and landed an amazing job with a dream company. I also travelled more extensively than expected, visiting the UK, Canada and the Dominican Republic not to mention various cities in the US. I also bit the bullet and starting blogging – something I was terrified to pursue for a very long time.
Looking back I realise that much of these achievements came down to being clear about what I wanted, working out how I was going to achieve defined objectives, focusing, and working my ass off to get shit done!
So how can you set your own life-changing goals and actually achieve them this year?
Set personal goals
These might relate to your career, health and fitness, wealth, or personal life. Figure out what you want!
When setting goals, apply the SMART principle:
- Specific: Be clear about what it is you want to achieve.
- Measurable: Will you know when you have achieved your goal, and can you measure your progress?
- Attainable: Make sure your goal is challenging but possible to achieve.
- Realistic: Will you seriously commit to pursuing this goal?
- Timely: Give yourself a deadline.
Write them down and review twice a day. I have my goals on my phone and review them every morning and every night before bed.
Make a plan
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to achieve it this year.
I start by brainstorming all the different elements needed to achieve my goal, then organise these ideas into a more concise mind map of the steps needed to achieve that goal. Write your goal at the centre of your mind map.
Breaking a plan into smaller steps not only gives me a clear visual picture of how to achieve that goal but also helps pinpoint where to start. If I’m in unfamiliar territory and have no idea where to begin, I focus on figuring out the next right step and progressively build a plan from there.
NOTE: Even once you have figured out your plan, things will inevitably change along the way meaning that your plan will need to be altered. Don’t let this derail you, just adjust it and keep moving forward.
Work your ASS OFF!
There is no magic formula for executing this step.
Now that you have set your goal, made your plans and can clearly see what you need to do to, it’s time to put in the work.
I aim to complete a minimum of 3-5 tasks for each goal every day. They can be big or small, so long as they contribute in some way to achieving your goal.
Start each day by being disciplined and tackling the toughest task first. I’ll admit that this is something I often find myself avoiding. But each time I knock over that first dreaded domino I realise that it wasn’t as bad as I thought and I’m ready to move on.
NOTE: Try to write your “To Do” list the night before so that each morning you are clear on your priorities and can hit the ground running.
The process of achieving any goal requires persistence, perseverance and preparation.
If working towards your goal requires taking a big meeting, accepting an interview, or simply having coffee with someone in your industry, make sure you enter the room prepared.
To do this:
- Be clear about the purpose of the meeting: What are you trying to achieve? What are the other parties expecting from the meeting? What is your ideal outcome?
- Know who will be in the room: Do you know who you will be meeting? Is it more than one person?
- Do your homework: Have you done your research on that person/people/company? What are their skills or professional backgrounds? How can you help them? How can they help you?
Cultivating the habit of always being prepared means that you can walk into any situation, talk to anyone, and handle any problem with confidence and ease.
Develop a daily routine
To stay motivated, focused, and accountable to yourself, try to cultivate a morning and evening routine.
For me, this is a set of non-negotiable tasks I have tested and developed over time coupled with strategies from books and people I admire.
Each morning before reaching for my phone, eating breakfast, or getting ready for work I complete the following:
- 10-15 minutes meditation. You can use apps like Calm which have excellent guided meditations or even relaxing Meditation Playlists on Apple Music.
- Read and visualize goals.
- Review that day’s “To Do” list and make any necessary changes. Often changes are inspired by meditation sessions.
Each evening, my routine centres on reflection, unwinding and preparing for the next day. This involves completing the following:
- Writing in a Gratitude Journal. I write five things that I am grateful for and reflect on what went right that day, and where I can improve in the future. Each entry is finished by acknowledging myself, what I achieved that day, and what I am proud of.
- Developing the next day’s “To Do” list.
- Evening Meditation. This helps quiet the mind and facilitates a restful night’s sleep.
NOTE: Creating a routine that works for me took patience and experimentation and has evolved over time. When developing your daily motivational routine, figure out what formula is realistic and achievable based on your unique needs and lifestyle.
Don’t allow yourself to procrastinate. Avoid distractions and focus on completing one goal-related task at a time.
If you are finding it difficult to stay focused try:
- Keeping your phone on silent or vibrate.
- Switch off all social media push notifications.
- Close your email application and only allow yourself to check it once you have completed a task.
- Set parameters. For example, try to stay focused for 45 minutes then reward yourself with a quick break.
- Plug in headphones and listen to music that helps you focus. I find it difficult to focus on complex tasks when songs have lyrics so opt for instrumental “Focus” and “Concentration” playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.
Have your digital assistant ready to go
Assemble a reliable digital “Tool Box” to help you stay on track and motivated.
Here are a few favourites from my Tool Box:
- Evernote – This is an app I use to keep track of projects instead of a physical notebook.
- Wunderlist – There are hundreds of productivity apps. But Wunderlist is simple, clean and the UX suits my workflow.
- Goal Tracker – iTunes and Google Play have many brilliant Goal Tracking apps but I personally like this one because of its visual display.
- Calm – A guided meditation app. Headspace is another fantastic meditation app. Alternatively, if you are not into guided meditation, Apple Music and Spotify have many calming playlists available.
- Focus Playlists – Apple Music and Spotify have several playlists that facilitate workflow and focus. I listen to these when I need to plug in and really focus.
There you have it, my hottest tips for getting shit done in 2018 and changing your life for the better! I hope they help you to move forward with purpose, focus and drive.
So what are you waiting for? Take a step in the right direction. Set one goal today and see where in the world your new path leads you.
What strategies, apps or tools do you use to stay motivated and achieving your goals? Let us know in the comments!