#Goals: How to Set Effective Goals and Achieve Them Before 2017

It’s already October?! Where did summer go? Heck, where did the year go?! With about three more months left in the year, you start to frantically remember your resolutions and everything that you haven’t achieved. You’re still at that job you hate, haven’t reached your goal weight and you haven’t learned a single word of German!

Relax. Relate. Release, sis.

I’m going to walk you through everything you need to quit, or start, a habit and to work towards your goal.

  • The first thing you should know is that you can begin working on your goals at any time because it’s never too late or too early to better yourself. The beginning and end date of your goals are not confined to the calendar year or the day of the week, unless you decide so. So if you want to start today, you can end by December 31st or you can end by September 2017. You can start on a Friday if waiting until Monday might cause you to falter. That’s ok.
  • Take a look at where you are and recognize the things you’ve already accomplished this year -- big or small. You started saving or paying off your debt in significant amounts. You made a new friend, connection or found a new mentor. You finished a class that will help you get into school. You may not have started off with these goals on your big list, but nevertheless, you achieved them. Pat yourself on the back.
  • If you already have a list of goals, now is the time to re-evaluate them. See which goals are still important to you. Now break that goal into small steps. If you want to lose weight, start by setting micro-goals to walk for at least 20 minutes a day, eat only when you are hungry and take the stairs. These are small changes with huge impact. Once you feel like you’ve turned your micro-goals into habits, you can start setting a few more. Meatless Mondays, raise your walking goal or set a goal of running twice a week. Before you know it, you’ll start seeing progress.
  • You can only see progress if you know how to measure and track it. Weight loss can be measured by the scale but an even better measurement is inches lost around target areas. Debt management can be measured by how much you are putting towards reducing your balance and how little new debt you accrued. Reading more can be measured in books read per month or by pages read per week. Determine your baseline, decide how much you want to improve, record your progress and re-evaluate your goal often.
  • If you often have trouble with new goals but you really want to make this a reality, start with a bare minimum effort. If you’re trying to learn a new language, set the bar so that in order to achieve your goal, you must learn one new word or practice with your app for 5 minutes. That’s it. You can do more, but you can’t do less than your bare minimum. It’s important to make this too easy to skip. If you commit to 20 new words rather than one, you’re less likely to maintain your habit daily.
  • Lastly and most important, do not overextend yourself. As humans, we can only commit to about 5 things with maximum effort. Your job is already one thing. Looking for a new job, applying to schools or volunteering is a second thing. This leaves you with room to pick up only 2-3 new goals at a time. I know, I know… you want to read, travel, be trilingual, lose weight, take up painting, blog, start a business, date (oh yes, that is a big extracurricular) and volunteer all at once. But by biting off more than you can chew, you’re setting yourself up for burnout and making it harder to pick up your next goal. Figure out what your 2-3 extracurricular goals are and set a time period for which you will work on them.

I would have liked to finish off with “And that’s all there is to it!”, but I don’t want to make it sound easy. You’re going to be putting in that work but with the steps above, you might be more prepared.

If you need help setting micro-goals, bare minimum efforts or you just want to share, leave your goals in the comment section below!