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Whether your New Year's resolution includes wanting to get fit, spending more time with friends and family or devoting more time to self-improvement, setting realistic and achievable goals will help you to succeed.
Between her no-nonsense blog, Smaggle, and her popular lifestyle podcast for self-improvement junkies, Straight and Curly, Carly Jacobs has been talking about productivity and goal-setting for over a decade. We asked Carly for her top goal-setting tips and how you can be sure to cross them off your list this year:
- Cut goals down into three month blocks If you want to run a marathon this year, it's a really daunting task building up to that level of fitness. Spend the first three months of the year training for a 10km run, the next three months training for a half marathon and then go the whole hog in the third quarter of the year. It's all about breaking these training blocks or your goal into gradual and achievable chunks.
- Get an accountability buddy If you have a friend or colleague who's trying to achieve the same things as you, like saving money for a holiday, buddy up with them and send each other reports of your progress and messages of support. You might both decide to not buy takeaway coffee for a month, and you can hold each other accountable to that promise. You could also make your goals public - publish them on your Facebook page so everyone knows what your goals are. After all, we’re far more likely to follow through on something if we voice it out loud.
- Avoid the unreasonable when setting your goals Don’t set yourself up for failure. Big, unobtainable goals like losing lots of weight in a short amount of time, saving a huge amount of money when your financial situation isn't likely to change, or goals that rely heavily on other people or factors beyond your control are going to be more difficult to achieve. Make sure your goals are realistic and that you’re able to complete them in a reasonable time period. One way to do this successfully is to make sure your goals are SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
- Keep yourself on track every day You should be doing something to work towards your goal on a regular basis, whether it’s a workout every day or planning a weekly budget. Write down your goals in a planner, revisit them often and ask yourself, 'Does this serve my end goal?' If you find yourself getting off track, don’t punish yourself too harshly for small hiccups. Instead, have a backup plan ready to get over your guilt of slipping up. For example, missed a workout today? Do a make-up session tomorrow. This will help to put you back on track. Remember, developing habits is reliant on your ability to bounce back.
You can get more of Carly’s productivity and self-improvement wisdom at Smaggle or her podcast with Kelly Exeter, Straight and Curly.