By: Joanna Coker, M.A.
Hello Spring! As I smell the flowers blooming and watch the pollen counts go up, I couldn’t be more excited to write these next two words: GOODBYE WINTER. But wait, it’s already spring and most of us haven’t even started to think about the lengthy list of goals we confidently told the entire room about at last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Around December 1st, there is a certain societal pressure that creeps into the atmosphere, waiting on us all to make promises to ourselves that we often do not keep. This isn’t because we are lazy or unmotivated, rather, I believe the narrative around setting and achieving goals is slightly distorted. I partially attribute this calamity to social media but it’s also because we aren’t given the appropriate direction. The current narrative is that you are only serious about your goals if you are constantly in a state of stress or anxiety and this causes the inevitable burnout. Here are 5 tips to help you own 2017 and achieve your goals.
1. Set achievable and realistic goals
During an episode of Boss Files with Poppy Harlow, Poppy interviews Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary who credits women for bringing him the most returns as a venture investor. When asked why he believes this is the case, he explains “women set goals that are achievable.” Setting achievable goals doesn’t mean that you are doubting or limiting yourself, it means that you are self-aware and moving at your own pace. Thanks to social media, many of us are under pressure to move to the beat of the next woman’s drum. It is important to realize that there is a thin line between being a go-getter and simply just doing the most. For example, you probably don’t want to challenge yourself to 5 days a week in the gym if your last workout was a high school dodgeball game. I would recommend challenging yourself to two days of physical activity, which can include one hour in the gym on one day and 20-minutes of jump rope on another day. The secret sauce is to pace yourself. Winning the small battles is the armor you will need to enter the war.
2. Identify your goal buddy
We all need to have at least one friend or a group of friends who hold us accountable to our goals. Identify the friend that you can do weekly check-ins with and return the favor by also helping her to stay on track with her goals. I recently completed a 21-day fitness challenge with a close friend and remained motivated throughout the program because I didn’t want to let her down. It was also a tremendous advantage to be able to swap stories with her and discuss our different experiences throughout the 21-day process. A goal buddy is the best way to remind yourself that you aren’t the only person in the world experiencing your struggles. After the first day of our fitness challenge, I was slightly embarrassed at how sore and in pain I was feeling. In fact, I was already prepared to quit the program after day one. That evening, I called my friend to talk about it and quickly learned that she felt exactly how I did. As we made jokes and exchanged stories, I found myself motivated to go another day. This turned out to be the momentum I needed to make it to day 21.
3. Don’t be overly hard on yourself
Although, it is imperative to push oneself to be better, I believe it is equally important to remember that you are only human. Even as you set those realistic goals, there will be times that they still do not seem achievable. Realistic and achievable are not equivalent to easy. Teaching your mind, body or soul to do anything it is not accustomed to doing will never be a simple task. The most rewarding part about achieving a goal is realizing how many times you fell off track before finally making it to the finish line. There isn’t satisfaction in completing a course that had no challenges along the way. Allow yourself to be challenged and get in the habit of picking up where you left off.
4. Turn your goals into objectives
A wise woman once said, “a goal is simply a dream until you write it down.” Once your goals can hit a piece of paper, they become objectives and this makes each item both tangible and achievable. The secret formula is to: organize your goals into categories, break each goal into months or quarters and take weekly or monthly progress notes. Learned from ElanaLyn.com, my goals are broken down into 4 categories: career, wellness, personal, and side hustle. I use my Commit30 planner to organize what I feel like working on each month. Any given month, I may pick one wellness goal and one personal goal to focus on versus attempting to work on all my goals at one time. Pull your resolutions out of your memory bank and organize them on paper.
5. Make a routine out of EVERYTHING
Research by the University College London says that it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit. One of my personal goals is to read more and to achieve this I set an alarm that reminds me to read something at the same time each day. It doesn’t have to be an entire chapter of a book or any other elaborate piece. Because I am a very on-the-go person, I don’t necessarily have the time for that. Most of the time, I simply open my Buzzfeed app and read an article or two. After one month of adopting this method, I am already finding myself conditioned as I crave my next daily reading. As my schedule eventually becomes more flexible, I can see myself increasing that set time and adding more complex pieces. If you create routines out of your goals and pace yourself, the results are likely to stick with you long term.
Joanna Coker, M.A. is a communications professional who has worked across various industries, developing compelling content and creating communications strategies that connect a brand to its target audience. A Hoosier girl turned Georgia peach, Joanna enjoys exploring the City of Atlanta’s many great resources and amenities, including its parks, shopping centers and constantly evolving restaurant scene. As a textbook Millennial, Joanna enjoys taking selfies, engaging in gif conversations, and rooftop dining with friends. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.