5 Tips to Kick Off The New Year

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We've all had it with 2020, haven't we? We owe it to ourselves to set up 2021 to be a banner year! Read on for five strategies that I've found to be extremely helpful for setting goals when looking at a brand new year.
1. Reflection
I cannot emphasize this one enough. Most of the time people jump into a new year without much thought and without evaluating how the previous year actually went. There's a lot of wisdom that can be found in how your year has gone. Spend ample time reflecting on your year, how it went, what went wrong, what went right, what goals you set, your success (or lack thereof) with those goals, and how much real effort and energy you gave them. Take an honest took at why you think you did or did not reach your goal(s). Some goals turn out to be not-so-important-after-all as time develops and it's ok to let those go. Some small goals gain momentum and turn into big ones, shaping your future and your perspective. Give it all some thought so that you'll know where you want to go from here on out.Also think about what you'd like to change. That one is powerful. If something jumped out at you when you read that, consider that a great thing. Don't get discouraged about it. Get encouraged about it. If you're finally fed up with something, that's when real change can happen. Capitalize on that pain-point of frustration and acknowledge that something needs to change. It will give you fuel for the next step...

2. Clarify
Once you've spend time reflecting, then you're in a great place to clarify where you want to go this year. You've armed yourself with all kinds of information about what did work, what didn't work, and why. Now you get to start over, but from a better place. You've learned from the past year and gained wisdom. Now you can put it all into practice. Choose things to accomplish or work toward in the coming year that will enrich your life, make your life more efficient, or make you happier and healthier. Remember the pain point I mentioned... the thing in your life you know you need to change or eliminate? That should go on the goal list.
3. Organize
I can't tell you how important my paper planner is to me. Not only is it beneficial to write things down and see them, but it's important to choose a planner that helps you thrive. Your planner should be more than just sheets of paper with endless to-do lists. Spend some time looking for the right one.For example: Me and my planner. I prefer a weekly view. I need to see the whole week so that I know how to plan. I don't like to be ambushed when I open my planner every morning. So the weekly view is a must. I need space for writing down appointments, as well as to-dos. I need a way to track my 30-day challenges to keep me excited about them. By writing down those challenges every month, it gives them power. When I check off my progress every day, it gives them momentum. And when I complete it at the end of 30 days, it has benefitted my life.

The right planner can really, really help you get your life together.

And yes, I've tried an app instead of a paper planner. I had my entire life on it for almost a year. Then, the app crashed and I lost everything in it. On top of that, I don't like constantly being on my phone. Seeing my goals on my phone from time to time didn't help me the way keeping a paper planner does, so I didn't get many goals accomplished that year. With my paper planner, it's always in my face and I make more progress. However, the point I'm trying to make is: to each their own. If an app planner does it for you, go for it. Whatever works. Just make sure you are, indeed, choosing a method that benefits you and moves you forward.

4. Get Inspired
Read books that fuel your new-found motivation and make you better. Two books I recommend that are in line with this are Atomic Habits (by James Clear) and The Compound Effect (by Darren Hardy). Stay in your motivated state by constantly learning and challenging yourself.Other ideas: Journal about your goals. Start at gratitude journal (I LOVE this one and have recommended it many times before.) ​Learn new productivity hacks. Clear clutter from your home and your planner. Rethink your commitments and how you spend your time. Organize the planner you bought. Write out action steps for your goals.

​And one of my favorites: try a 30 day challenge each month. Decide on your first one or two 30 day challenges for the new year.  Speaking of 30 day challenges...

5. 30 day challenges
I like to decide my 30 day challenges for January and February in advance, but usually don't go too much farther than that. My reasoning is that after I accomplish those first 2 or 3 30 day challenges, who knows where they will take me?! Sure, I'll keep an idea list that I can dip into, but I may discover a brand new 30 day challenge that I hadn't thought of before. I may make so much progress with one, that it leads to another. So I don't like to pigeonhole myself for the whole year right from the start. But, that's me. You may benefit more from planning them all out in advance. Tinker with this and accept that it's all an experiment. You'll keep learning as you go.​(Want to read more about 30 Day Challenges in general? Read my post 30 Day Challenge Ideas for guidance on choosing a meaningful one, tips for accountability, and a list of ideas.)

A good 30 day challenge should be something that you can work into every day of the month. Think of something that will benefit your life. They don't have to be huge things, becuase the point is to be able to stick to it daily in order to make it a habit and a part of your lifestyle. Here are some examples:
• Trying to get fit? Walk every day for 30 days for 20 minutes.
• Trying to eat healthier? For the 30 days, eat a salad daily, or cut out junk food, or cut out sodas, or cut out take-out... you get the idea.
• Know you need to drink more water? Drink 64 oz daily for 30 days.
• House too cluttered? Spend 10 minutes a day eliminating clutter.
• Spending too much time on social media? Limit your viewing time to 15 minutes per day.
• Having trouble going to bed on time? Implement a nighttime wind-down routine and go to bed early for 30 days.
• Love yoga? Try a new or hard pose and practice it every day for 30 days to see your progress.
• Want to read more? Spend 15 minutes a day reading.
​• More ideas listed in this post: 30 Day Challenge Ideas

Those are just a few ideas. Think of an area of your life that you want to tweak or develop and go with it. After a couple days, your momentum will kick in and it's exhilarating to see your own personal progress.

And my last tidbit for you is this quote by the artist Banksy:
“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.”Wise words. Crushing goals and improving yourself is not for the faint of heart. It's hard work. We all lose motivation— it simply doesn't last forever. We all get tired— it's often easiest to quit.  But think about all the tiny steps of progress that you'll miss out on if you just quit. Keep doing the little things to bring about your dreams. Tiny step by tiny step...

Lastly, remember that we all fall short of goals sometimes, so cut yourself some slack and don't give up on YOU.


Love + Light.

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