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Guest Post by Catherine Wilkinson
With each new year, it is tradition to set new year goals that you are to hold yourself accountable for. It is a time to feel full of ambition and excitement for the new year ahead of you. All those goals you have set out to accomplish, the dreams that this year are going to become a reality.
After the first few weeks of the new year have settled down, our hopes and dreams can suddenly cause us to feel overwhelmed. We look back to last year and the new year goals we were sure would be easily achieved but have somehow ended up on this years list. That initial excitement and determination can easily be squashed with the anxiety and worry. The fear that you didn’t achieve everything last year so how on earth are you going to achieve it all this year?
It happens to all of us. The most determined. The most driven. The most self-motivated. Life is incredible how it doesn’t always go according to plan. It challenges us further, making us see what we are truly capable of achieving. Life brings us ups and downs and the important lesson is to go with it. Take each moment as a lesson learnt, not a failure or lack of achievement.
Sometimes it is easy to become caught up in the list making, the comparisons to other people’s achievements and the crossing off of goals. What you have to remember, is that this year, you are already so much closer to achieving your dreams than you were. Even with life not quite going to plan last year, you have still made that first step to success. You have reflected upon your previous year and even with the challenges you faced, you’ve still sat down and written new goals for the year ahead. That, my friend, is what is setting you apart from others.
Don’t give up. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your journey is completely different to someone else’s. It is unique to you and your life. That’s what makes it so exciting. Embrace what’s to come this year.
Remember, we don’t fail, we learn and we grow. Each failure is just a lesson learnt that helps us get one more step closer to achieving our goals. I know if you met challenges last year which impacted upon your goals, it can seem difficult to think positively for new goals you’ve set.
Here is where I can help. I have set out 7 actionable steps below to help you focus on your new goals for this new year. These are tried and tested points which really do help make life a bit more manageable, supporting you to work on and achieve your goals for this year.
1) Write down your goals.
I know this one seems a little obvious, but not everyone will do this. It is vitally important to write down your new year goals and be clear what it is exactly you want to achieve this year. If we don’t go ahead and write down our goals, it can be difficult to see a clear path on how we are going to achieve them.
Our new year goals are very personal. They have to be something from the heart rather than jumping on someone else’s goals whether it’s your partner or business friend. The more personal the goal is to you, the more motivated you will be to work hard and achieve it.
I highly recommend for you to dedicate some time and really think about what it is you want to accomplish this year. New year goals can be about anything, it doesn’t matter how big or small you think they are. From learning how to cook to skydiving in Australia. Starting a business to travelling the world.
Writing down your goals and putting them up somewhere so that you will see them everyday will help give you focus and clarity about your ambitions for the year ahead.
2) Action Plan
Now, goals are great but they don’t really do a lot on their own. This is where a great action plan will help you to manage your goal and show you exactly HOW you are going to achieve them. An action plan is really important for breaking down your goals into smaller steps. They lay out the road map as such, to get you from setting your goal to achieving it. Here is an example:
Goal: Start a money making blog
- What do I want to blog about?
- Research domain names
- Buy domain name
- Set up self hosted wordpress
- Buy hosting package
- Learn about SEO, ensure implementing this within blog posts
- Write high quality content
- Promote blog posts via Pinterest/social media/Facebook blogging groups etc
- How do I want to monetise my blog – affiliates/sponsored posts/advertisements/own products/course production/membership subscription
- Research chosen option …
This is just a general example of an action plan. Here, you can clearly see what steps you need to take to start a money making blog. With each step, once it has been achieved, you can simply cross it off and move onto the next step.
Just setting the goal of ‘Start a money making blog’ would feel incredibly overwhelming, especially to someone who has never looked at blogging before. So, breaking this big goal down into smaller, actionable steps, helps you to keep focused and can visually see progress towards your end goal.
3) Vision Board
Personally, I think vision boards are really important for everyone to have. Setting goals is fantastic, but with a vision board, you remind yourself daily of the dreams you are working towards. Vision boards really help you to see clearly and visualise your future.
They give you a great picture of your dreams and show you what you are working towards each day. Vision boards are particularly beneficial when you are having one of those days which we all experience. You might be feeling tired, or frustrated about your goals. Perhaps you have had a set back, we all get them. You are able to come back to your vision board and picture the future you have set for yourself and your family.
Again, vision boards are unique to each person. But just as an example if you are struggling what to think to put on the board. Going with the above goal of ‘Start a money making blog’, maybe your dream is to travel the world and your money making blog is what is going to support you financially to be able to do so.
On your vision board, you could include
- motivational quotes
- pictures of the places you want to go when travelling
- airline tickets
- pictures of holiday clothes you want e.g. bikini, sun hat
- wildlife you would see in the places you want to visit
- a large map with dots on for everywhere you want to go to
- pictures of local food you want to try
These are just a couple of examples to show you the types of things to include on your vision board. Remember, the vision board is about you and YOUR dreams. You can put whatever you like on there that you are dreaming of, which your goals are going to make a reality.
Being organized really will help you work towards your goals – trust me! You will thank yourself later in the year, if you have a system in place from the start of the year. It is so easy to end up writing notes down on post its, in different notebooks, scraps of paper and even storing in different places on your computer. Your notes can get lost and it becomes chaotic to remember where you wrote down which ideas, meetings and blog post drafts
Start as you mean to go on. Personally, I love Evernote. It is simple, not difficult to use and it is synced on my phone and computer. This means I can access my notes from anywhere so I can add to them as ideas come to my head and have less risk of forgetting when trying to write them later.
With Evernote, you can organise each note into folders or even add tags to each note. For example, I have a folder for my blog and I organise my folder into categories such as blog post drafts, blog ideas, email list, ongoing projects and general things to do. I also then add tags to each note. For my blog post drafts, I will add tags for the month I want to publish each blog post. Then, if say I went into the tag labelled January, I would be able to see all blog posts listed which I working on and want to publish in that month.
You might have your own system in place and not want to use Evernote. There are other online options such as Asana and Trello, which many people use and have great success with. Whichever system you find works for you, stick to it and be consistent. A great system really helps you save time when looking for things and can help to clear your mind adding to your to do lists and writing your ongoing ideas down in the same place.
5) Time management
I have a task for you to do here. Over the next week, write down how much time you spend on different activities. These could be
- commuting to/from work
- time with your children
- watching TV
- scrolling social media
You may have other activities you can add to this list. But make sure to include everything and write down in hours and minutes how long you spend on each activity.
I think you will be surprised at some of the outcomes. It can be shocking when you realise what takes up the most of your time. But it also makes you extremely aware of where you can cut back. I was extremely shocked at how much time I spent just scrolling through social media on my phone. It is so easy to do, just when you’re sat having a cuppa or waiting on the pasta to cook or even when the children are playing a game.
Once you know what takes up most of your time, you might be able to dedicate some of that time elsewhere to achieving your goals. Perhaps you are gaining 9 hours of sleep a night, maybe you could get up one hour earlier to go for that morning run if your goal was to exercise more. If you scroll through social media like I had been, you could use that time to manually pin on Pinterest or write a blog post draft if you are a blogger like myself. Maybe your goal was to learn French, you could cut back 30 minutes a day watching TV and study during that time.
Whatever your goals are, there are always things we can cut back on or move around in our schedule to make time. If we are dedicated enough, there will always be a way. It doesn’t have to be huge chunks of hours out of your day, even during your work commute, if your goal was to start working from home, you can listen to podcasts and be inspired by other people’s stories.
6) Block Scheduling
Block scheduling is a fantastic way to work towards your goals. Block scheduling just means, blocking out a set amount of time each day when you are most productive. Each day, set a target of what you want to achieve within that time and focus solely on that target.
Many people use block scheduling and it really has helped push them further towards their goals. Especially if your goals are around business, giving yourself a deadline and target will really propel you to achieve it in that dedicated amount of time.
For example, I am a morning person and so, when possible, I block out a couple of hours on a morning solely to write my blog posts. I am most productive on a morning and at my most creative as well. For some reason, the words just seem to flow better and I can think clearer on a morning. Evenings, I don’t know about you but I end up with brain fog and do my easier tasks such as creating graphics for posts, responding to emails and pinning on Pinterest.
Work out what time of the day is when you are most productive or have the highest amount of energy. This will really help you to achieve more and keep you focused on that days action steps towards your bigger goal.
7) Don’t Give Up
No matter what, if you truly want to achieve your goals, you must never give up. The only time you will fail, is if you stop working towards them. No one else will make your dreams come true but you. Trust that if you work hard, each small accomplishment is a win towards achieving your goals.
Life does happen, it happens for all of us. It wouldn’t be interesting, if there weren’t challenges. Trust me, when I say, that when the day comes and you have achieved your goals, you will feel incredible and proud.
To be successful and achieve you have to be gutsy. You need to be self-motivated. You must be determined.
Let’s make this year the best year yet! What are your goals? Let us know in the comments below.
Hi, I’m Catherine and I run Caite Elizabeth. I’m a work from home mum of two, a wife and dog mum with a slight (ish) addiction to biscuits. Caite Elizabeth started as I am passionate about helping other mums who want to achieve an income working from home and be more present with their children.