At the outset of every new year, we tend to plan for fresh starts, whether professionally or personally. With the arrival of a new decade, our New Year’s resolutions may be even more lofty and daunting. The pressure that we put on ourselves to achieve these goals can be overwhelming, causing us to admit defeat and relinquish our goals by the end of January. The epitome of a New Year’s resolution is change – giving up a bad habit or implementing a positive new habit – which must be accompanied by shifting priorities. Taking action is feasible when you’re still on holidays and don’t have the pressures of everyday life impeding on your ability to enact change. However, when your holidays come to an end and you re-enter the rat race of everyday life, your personal and professional goals tend to take the backseat. In order to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions, you must take a concerted effort towards practical productivity to ensure that you are capable of investing time, effort, and energy into your goals. Here are some practical productivity strategies that will help you reach your goals in 2020:
- Create a Master Plan
Find a quiet place to reflect, plan, and strategize your master plan for 2020. Your master plan will be the most essential ingredient for success and should capture your goals, dreams, aspirations, and deadlines. This will allow you to record everything you are trying to accomplish so that you can address priorities in a strategic manner. You should also ensure that you start small as lofty goals can be overwhelming. Avoid overcommitting and aiming for an overhaul of your entire lifestyle, as this will be a recipe for disappointment and guilt. By distinguishing between short-term vs. long-term goals with reasonable timelines, you’ll be able to decide what to focus on now versus later, which will be critical to ensuring your goals are achievable. With a clear and practical plan outlined on paper for both short-term and long-term goals, you’ll be able to manage overload and prioritize your resolutions.
- Take Daily Action
Ensure that your daily actions are aligned with your 2020 goals. This is where your master plan will come into play, as your goals have been broken out into manageable chunks with practical strategies and timelines. Taking daily action will allow you to assess your short-term progress towards the ultimate goal, which will solidify your motivation and enthusiasm. In order to prioritize consistent progress, use a calendar or daily planner to plot out your actions for the coming weeks or months, and decide when and how often to evaluate your progress. When you prioritize your thinking and schedule your time to focus on your goals on a consistent basis, you will achieve them with ease and confidence.
- Set Boundaries to Prioritize Goals
Intentional and practical productivity will result in high performance. If you’re finding yourself stressed and exhausted when trying to reach your New Year’s resolutions, your goals may be too ambitious. Take a step back and re-evaluate the feasibility of your goals. Alternatively, perhaps your goals are reasonable, but you’re not making a change in other areas of your life to accommodate the demands of your new goals. You may have to learn to say “No” – be practical and prioritize your to-do list at work and home to avoid overcommitting. For example, if your goal is to attend a fitness class after work 3 days a week, learn to set boundaries at work to ensure that you’re honouring a reasonable work/life blend that will allow you to invest in yourself and your resolutions.
- Maintain a Social Network
Be vocal about your goals and rely on a support network. Invite your friends or colleagues to join you on your journey to your resolution to help keep you accountable. Vocalize your goals and your strategies for achieving them to those who rely on you at work and home so that they understand that you may need to shift priorities and ask for support more frequently. Also remember that social interaction is crucial to a balanced lifestyle. If you focus on achieving a new goal, but refrain from setting boundaries in other spheres of your life, you may risk neglecting social opportunities. Be mindful of how distracted and consumed you become by your goals and make sure to create a practical action plan that allows you to focus on your goals, yet still have the time and energy to prioritize quality interactions with family and friends.
- Routine Establishes Habits
Initially, adhering to a new routine requires willpower, but over time, your new routine will morph into habits that become conventions of your daily life. Once the actions required to achieve your goals are written into your daily routine, you will be able to tackle tasks and negotiate deadlines with ease. Taking action on your goals will become habitual and, subsequently, it will become less mentally taxing to convince yourself to prioritize these actions. Investing the time and energy upfront to transition your new routine into a habit will be critical. With time and consistency, the anxiety around actioning your goals will be eliminated and you will be well equipped to manage your own expectations as well as the expectations of others.
- Reward Yourself for the Small Wins
Celebrating the small wins will help you to stay motivated towards achieving the ultimate end-goal. When your goals are broken out into smaller pieces, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment more frequently, thereby equipping you with the motivation to tackle the next phase of the goal. Make sure to reward yourself for progress: when you accomplish the first phase of your goal, avoid immediately jumping into the next phase. Instead, take a moment to reflect and congratulate yourself for your achievements thus far before tackling the next phase of your resolution. Perfection is unattainable, so don’t beat yourself up for a misstep and allow yourself to revel in the small wins.