I’m not gonna lie, I absolutely love the New Year. There’s this weird symbolism of starting new attached to it and for me, it’s the start of a fresh year full of possibilities. Granted, I could use any old day to “start a new year” but the past few years I’ve managed to use the New Years for a mini-reboot with the last year saw me make some ridiculous changes and accomplish some serious goals that I never thought I’d actually get around to. Serious, never.
In the past year I have:
- Took a screenwriting class and started writing screenplays (childhood dream of mine)
- Took an improv acting class (way out of my comfort zone)
- Started a podcast (which I love)
- Quit my full-time corporate job and started working for myself (writing every day is my dream)
- I even quit smoking for a while, but then I started again – and stopped – and started ?
That’s a lot to do in a year. And it felt great!
But… it’s safe to say that since I did all of that last year, this year’s goal list is a bit bigger. But this post isn’t about my personal goal list (I can share it with you later when I’ve actually finished it), it’s about how to actually achieve goals, big or small, and make some seriously awesome changes in your life.
Define Your Goals
This seems simple but it’s actually a huge deal. I’m a dreamer and my things I want to do with my life list is ridiculously long. I have way more ideas than time and I’m constantly bouncing back and forth from project-to-project, idea-to-idea and goal-to-goal so with that in mind again I say, decide what your goal is.
Your goal can be anything. It doesn’t have to be life-changing or world-altering, it could be to learn how to bake your late grandma’s famous Christmas cookies, read one book a month or take yourself out on a solo-date once every few weeks. Or it could be bigger like learn a language, travel to a new country, get a job, meet the love of your life or quit everything and start over.
Your goal is what you want it to be. And I truly believe you can accomplish whatever it is you truly want to, but it takes time, work and serious dedication.
Make A Plan & Track Your Progress
Truthfully, plans can go one of two ways. They can be completely debilitating or absolutely liberating. But if you want to accomplish big goals, you do need something to follow along with. A plan doesn’t have to be a full-out business plan, it doesn’t have to be a step-by-step guide or even a checklist. A plan can be as simple as I want to do this because of this, and this is how I plan to get there.
My plans rarely make it onto a physical paper in any understandable form. They might be able to be translated on stick notes or maybe random checks on lists in Evernote (which is an amazing program, btw) but I do track my progress and I consider that to be a great part of my success.
Make the Time To Actually Accomplish Your Goals
Here I go again, saying something else that seems completely obvious. But a lot of people would be surprised to find out that I waste a lot a lot of time thinking and planning about achieving goals but not actually putting any real time towards them.
One of my biggest goals is to write and publish a novel. I’ve had this goal for years, probably since I was 16, but I seem to be unable to actually sit down and accomplish that goal. I spend a ton of time thinking about storylines, plot lines and characters; reading other people’s novels; even reading books about writing novels. But I spend almost no time writing my own stories.
A lot of it has to do with my own doubts about my writing. It’ll suck, so-and-so (who is a published author) is so much better (duh), no one will ever read it, why would anyone want to spend money on my books, I’m going to waste my whole life on nothing… But recently, I came across this beautiful quote that made me stop and think:
“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”Jodi Picoult
And for whatever reason, it clicked and I started to write. I now write 3,000 words specifically for novels per day. It sounds like a lot, but it takes about an hour and a half, which considering I control my full schedule is definitely accomplishable.
The point I’m trying to illustrate is just because you have a goal doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to accomplish it. You need to actually work at it. Carve out some time, if you’re like me and you want to be a writer but you’re strapped for time try setting small goals:
|If every day you write…||At the end of the year you’ll have written…|
|250 words||91,250 words|
|500 words||182,500 words|
|1,000 words||365,000 words|
|2,000 words||730,000 words|
|3,000 words||1,095,000 words (or 90,000 words in 30 days)|
You don’t have to go crazy and set huge goals, small ones make huge impacts when you stick to them.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
While I said at the beginning that you didn’t need to make checklists and goal points, I would encourage you to make a few. Not because you need a solid plan but because you need to celebrate when you’re on your way to success. Often we wait until we’re done, but sometimes that can be a little far off, so if you have some milestones between the beginning and the end it really helps to keep you pushing forward.
And celebrating doesn’t mean going all out. You can do something simple… like maybe take a day off from trying to accomplish your goal to reward yourself for being awesome (just make sure that day off doesn’t turn into more…).
Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Trip Up
We all do it.
Seriously, every day is a fight with myself. I want to accomplish a lot of things, but sometimes it can be hard to see the bigger picture when you’re goal is to tap out 3,000 words knowing it’s still not going to be a finished story; head to the gym for 15 minutes and know you’re going to be the same weight when you leave; or make your bed in the morning knowing you’re going to rumple up the covers in a few hours.
There’s that old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Likewise, you’re not going to accomplish your goals with one try. You need to fail to grow, and at the end of the day it’s okay if you make a mistake. Just get up, brush yourself off and move forward.
You can do it.