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Setting Your Goals

Most transformations take time, but many people see New Year’s Day as a fitting moment to get started with resolutions to change their life for the better. Whatever the transformation you’re aiming for, be it educational, financial, physical, mental, or something else, determination, dedication, and hard work will help you set and achieve it. By defining your goals and creating an action plan for yourself, you may be able to transform your life in the coming year. 

Think about what you want to transform in a broad sense. Starting with a broad goal will help you define what you want and why you want it. Ask yourself what you’d really like to change in your life and why that’s something you care about. Are you looking to be healthier, or do you want to learn something new? Would you like a new career? Is there something else you want to change?
– For example, you could set a goal like, “I want a new career because I want to feel more fulfilled with my job.”
– It could be tempting to try to change every aspect of your life at once, but that can quickly get overwhelming, making it more likely that you’ll fall off the wagon. Instead, focus on just one area of your life, such as getting healthier or going back to school.

Break up your big goal into smaller steps. Once you have your overall transformation in mind, break it down into a set of more manageable goals. What steps can you take to make this goal a reality? Think about what you want to be different when the transformation is complete, identify what you specifically want to change, and then use that as the basis for your goals.
– If, for example, you want to improve your mind in the coming year, you may choose goals such as reading more books, learning a new language, and getting an educational or professional certificate.

Make an action plan. Look at each goal individually and decide what actions you want to take to accomplish it. Research resources, set dates, and schedule yourself in advance to make sure you have regular time dedicated to your goals.
– For example, if your goals include learning a new language, your action plan may be to research different language learning websites, such as Duolingo or Busuu, or making a specific study schedule.
– If your goals will require some financial investment to make it happen, now is also the time to set a reasonable budget.

Set a timeline. Any transformation will be an incremental process. Before you begin, research a realistic timeline for your goals. Remember that transformations can be ongoing, and may take longer than a year.
– Avoid setting arbitrary timelines. Safe, healthy weight loss happens at a rate of 1-2 lbs a week, for example, while proficiency in a new language takes months or even years. Use professional resources to help you set realistic timelines.
– Things might come up that throw off your schedule over the year, and that’s fine; you need to be flexible as well as determined. Set your timeline with the understanding that you might not be able to follow it completely, but that is no reason to give up altogether.

Working Towards Goals:

Gather any supplies you need to get started. Ask yourself what you need to start working towards your goal; you can do online research to get ideas. Draw up a list and get the items as soon as you can so you can get started.
– If you are looking to exercise more by running more, for example, make sure you chart a good running path. If you want to learn a programming language, equip your desk with an instructional book and a quality computer.
– You can even make this the very first step in your goal, which will help you feel like you’re already working towards it.

Start with a simple, consistent goal. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change everything at once. First, start with your most manageable goal and get into a steady routine before adding more into the mix.
– Starting small lets you work your way up to the greatest challenges. Think about learning a language: you start with learning basic vocabulary before you try to reading a novel.

Find a partner in crime to keep you motivated. You’ll likely hit a few challenging moments in pursuit of your goals. Going through them with someone you trust, like a friend or family member, can give you strength, motivation, and even make it fun.
– You can also find a shared interest group, either local or online, especially if you’re learning a specific skill or working toward a more common goal. You can speak and practice with others who understand your ambitions, and they may be able to help you find creative solutions.
– For some goals, you might want a partner who can challenge you and push you to be your best. If you want a running buddy, find someone who can make it just a block or two farther than you. If you want a study buddy for a new subject, ask a peer who has taken a related course before.

Work through your action plan, one thing at a time. Any major goal will feel daunting at first. Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything you have to do, take it one step at a time. Focus on completing the first item on your schedule without worrying about the next one, then move on once you’ve completed it.
– If you start feeling overwhelmed, break your goals down even further. If you found a course you want to try, sign up for the class. If you found a professional with whom you want to work, make an appointment to see them.

Reward yourself for hitting goals along the way. Find small rewards for those moments when you act on your goals. Try to find things that you truly enjoy, and use them to congratulate yourself on your hard work. Creating a reward system will help you stay motivated and excited to work towards your goal. Try something like playing your favorite song, taking a long bath, watching an episode of your favorite show, or something else that you enjoy to motivate yourself in the early stages of your goal.

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