Now that the holiday parties have finished, the champagne has fizzed, and 2019 has officially started, it’s time to get down to business taking on the new year. Step #1: Make 2019 the year you actually (seriously) tackle those lifegoals.
We talk about goals—how to set them and how to accomplish them—a lot over here at Positive Routines, so believe us when we tell you, there are tons of science-backed ways to crush your lifegoals this year. The best part? These strategies are much easier to implement than you might think. Little tweaks in your habits can go a long way toward achieving your goals.
7 Secrets for Making Those LifeGoals Happen in 2019
1. Get SMART
To really crush your lifegoals, you have to set the right kind of goals. No, we don’t mean setting a goal to hit the gym more instead of setting a goal to watch Netflix more (because, hey, there is nothing wrong with that.) Setting the right goals means setting SMART goals.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound, and productivity experts have long touted the method as a way to make your goals, you know, actually doable. Here’s how you do it:
S = Make your goals for the year super-specific. An example? It’s as simple as saying, “my goal is to go to the gym every Monday and Thursday after work,” instead of something general like, “I want to work out more.”
M = Make sure you can actually measure your progress—i.e., if you’re actually hitting the treadmill twice a week.
A = To make one of your lifegoals reality, you need to do a bit of a reality check as you set them to make sure they’re attainable. If you’ve never run a mile before, for example, running a marathon in January probably won’t be doable. Give yourself more time to train or start with a shorter distance.
R = Your lifegoals should also be relevant. In other words, is running that marathon really important to you or is it just one of those things you feel like should be on your list of goals?
T = Finally, give yourself a deadline so you can crush your goal before 2020.
2. Write it down
When it comes to actually achieving your goals, one of the simplest, but most powerful things you can do is put pen to paper. Research shows that the act of writing down your goals—as opposed to just thinking about your lifegoals or even chatting about them with a friend—makes you more likely to achieve them.
RELATED: Need a place to jot down your goals—and the habits, routines, and tasks that help you achieve them? Panda Planner helps you take a big goal, break it into small steps, and keep you moving toward it every day. Lifegoals = achieved.
3. Start with a productivity-boosting morning routine
Now that you’ve got your goals down, time to go after them by starting off your day the right way. Bear with us—we know it sounds cliché but the body of research suggesting establishing a morning routine can help set you up for success is deep and vast.
As Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a productivity expert and the author of Design Your Day, puts it, how you start your day creates a powerful precedent for how productive and successful you’ll be. Need some ideas for exactly how to start a morning routine that can help you crush your lifegoals? Check out these science-backed routines or try something as easy as:
- Meditating—research shows it can make you more focused.
- Sitting down with a good ‘ol cup of joe—science says it helps boost your morning mood before you take on the day.
4. Get in the habit
Inevitably, excitement over your brand-spankin’ new resolution or shiny new lifegoal will waver. That’s totally normal. Even if you are truly pumped to be training for a marathon, the thought of getting out of bed at the crack of dawn to go on a 15-mile run before work will inevitably get to you.
So instead of relying on motivation alone to crush your life goals, set up habits that will support you instead. Research shows that, on average, it takes just over two months for most of us to get into a solid groove. So, think of it this way: All you have to do is find the motivation stick to your running schedule until March—by then the process of crushing your lifegoal will become second nature.
5. Cut out distractions
Monotasking, as in the opposite of multitasking, can help you stay on track when it comes to working toward your goals. Research shows that multitasking, which has historically been thought of as a way to get more accomplished, really slows us down. Focusing on just one thing at a time, on the other hand, can help us stay on the fast track.
A few ways to do it:
- Make a to-do list and stop yourself from bouncing to another item before you’ve crossed the first task off.
- Take breaks—research shows short breaks help you stay focused.
- Make the most of your mornings—one researcher’s findings suggest you’re the least distracted during the two hours after you wake up.
6. Manage your energy
You can’t really have a conversation about achieving your goals without talking about productivity (see above). But achieving your lifegoals isn’t exactly the same as crossing every item off your daily to-do list. We’re talking about the long game here, after all.
With that in mind, it becomes even more important to manage your energy—not your time. One of the easiest ways you can keep your energy stores high? Spend time with friends. Research shows relationships are a key driver of happiness. Think of them as fuel for your tank so you can stay motivated to keep pursuing those life goals.
7. Reward yourself
When you do check one of those lifegoals off your list, CELEBRATE. Firstly, because you deserve it—even with all the science-backed tips and tricks in the world to make the process of achieving your goals easier and more attainable, it’s still a major accomplishment.
But aside from the fact that you’ve totally earned the party, evidence suggests rewarding yourself can help create motivation. You can use this trick at the beginning of your quest to achieve a goal. (Celebrating the very first step? Yes, please.) Or after you’ve ticked it off your list. Think of it as motivating yourself to stick to an entirely new habit: Getting those lifegoals.
To sum it all up…
This year really can be the year you hit your lifegoals. To make it happen:
- Set SMART goals.
- Write them down.
- Start your day with a productivity-boosting morning routine.
- Create habits that help you achieve your goals.
- Cut out distractions to practice monotasking.
- Manage your energy instead of your time to avoid burnout.
- Reward yourself for your accomplishments along the way.
Your turn: What are your lifegoals for 2019? Tell us how you plan to accomplish them in the comments.
Want some good reads to keep you going in the right direction? These 11 books will kickstart your goal-setting and keep that fire burning all year long.
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.