In the last post we discussed the prospect of furthering your education in the new year. The holiday period is for many of us a good opportunity to reflect upon the year that has passed. We can use this time of reflection to set new goals for the best year of our lives – the next one. As we discussed in the previous post, here, you need self-awareness to have a high quality reflection, knowledge about yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses.
After your quality reflection you need to figure out what you want to do after the new year and how to set goals for yourself that will help you improve and make sure that you actually do what you say you want to do? The first step is as glaringly obvious as it is difficult. You need to figure out what you actually want to achieve in your life long term.
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 or even 20 years time? What are you doing and who are you doing it with? This first step is extremely difficult if you don’t have self-awareness since that means that you don’t know your starting point. Setting goals without knowing yourself is like setting out on a river in a rowing boat without oars, you will end up somewhere, but you have little influence on where you’ll end up.
When you do set your long term goals you shouldn’t limit yourself only to your career, also include things as for example; financial, social/family goals as well as fun or challenging activities that you want to experience during this period. Describe the different goals in as much detail and as specific as possible. The goals should ideally be things that you can influence without being too much dependent on others.
Now that you’ve set your long term goals it’s time to break it down to the goals you want to achieve next year. What do you need to accomplish in the next year that will help you achieve your long term goals? Again formulating the goals for next year in the different areas of for example; career, financial, social and experiences as detailed and descriptive as possible.
You would probably agree that it would be nice if you could set your goals for the year and then just sit back and watch yourself make the right decisions all year to keep you on track achieving all your goals by the years end. Unfortunately that’s not how our brain works. For everyone who has ever made a new years resolution you know what we are talking about.
Our brains are wired to respond to short term rewards and is very bad at waiting for long term rewards without that regular dopamine shot. There’s a reason you check your phone all the time, even if you haven’t received a notification, as your brain is looking for that reward of being noticed and feeling important. Or in other words, it’s looking for that next dopamine shot.
So when it comes to your goals you will benefit by breaking them down into short term achievable goals in order to keep your brain on track. You could for example divide your yearly goals into quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily goals to maximize the chance of you doing what will increase the possibility of achieving your long term goals. What do you need to do this quarter in order to reach your goals? What do you need to do this month, this week or even today in order to get you one step closer to your goals?
Imagine having set all your long term goals and breaking them down into steps of quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Sometimes you will inevitably fail to reach one or more of your goals for this one day, that week, this month or even a quarter. How do you keep track and give yourself the opportunity to adapt for the next period? Try using a journal, preferably an old fashion one made out of paper. Since research shows that we remember more of what we write for hand than type on electronic devices this might be a good idea.
When you write your goals for this quarter, month, week, day in your journal, not only will you be more likely to remember them, but it also gives you the opportunity to summarize afterwards to see if you reached them. If not you just adapt or even change them for the next time period. As an added benefit this gives you the ability to increase the quality of your yearly reflection by going through your journal to see what worked, what didn’t and why. Because no matter how well you plan in life things happen, but if your goals and your path towards them are clear, the chance of you making good decisions will increase dramatically.