Look, I know. You've got a lot on your plate right now: last-minute gift-buying, house-decorating, party-attending (and maybe throwing), not to mention all those work projects with the same perplexing end-of-the-year deadline. And now we want you to think about your goals for next year as well?!
I see that side-eye you're giving me, but I'm sticking to my guns: this is the perfect time of year to look back, take stock of all your achievements, and think about what you want for the coming 12 months. Finding a few minutes here and there to jot down some intentions for 2015 can actually help you enjoy this end of the year rush, since you'll be going into it with an appreciation for what's just been, and a clear head about what will be.
That said, I don't think making endless lists of unreasonable and occasionally arbitrary goals helps anybody. So here are three strategies that have worked for me, when thinking about what I want out of the year ahead.
1. Think about what worked this year. That is, what you enjoyed, what enriched your life, what you want more of in 2015. Goal-setting doesn't have to be about creating a New You every 12 months, and in fact it works better when it's cumulative. Take some time to revisit your goals for past years, examine the successful (even semi-successful!) ones and think about how you can continue to build on them. For me, I plan to carry over (ideally improve on) my thrice-weekly yoga practice and my Thursday evening French class, as well as my hard-won savings habits.
2. Limit your goals. I've mentioned my fondness for a "top five" around here before. If you think about it, it's the perfect number for anything: enough so that you're challenging yourself, not so many that you're overwhelmed. You may prefer two goals, or ten, but the important thing is to have a reasonable, achievable number.
Another way to focus your goals is to divide your life into categories, and think of a single intention for each area. For instance, you might consider categories like home (goal: finally find some art for the landing wall), relationships (goal: get off Tinder and practice striking up random conversations, old-school style) and career (goal: try not to write my weekly Apartment Therapy article during my lunch hour moments before it's due). I mean, those are just examples.
3. Ask yourself "Why?" So maybe you want to run a marathon next year. Or buy your first home. Great goals! But why do you want to do those things? What feeling will they help you achieve, or value that you hold dear do they support? Being honest on why we want things helps us clarify if in fact we do want them, or if something else will help us achieve the desired outcome (maybe a half-marathon will give you the same sense of fulfilment, or a lease with a landlord who's okay with some DIY?) It's also good to know that we're focusing on targets that will truly make us happier.
Bonus tip: Practice gratitude. Speaking of happy, it seems easy to avoid these days, especially in the arena of goal-setting. As soon as we've achieved something, we're after bigger and better ambitions. Taking time to appreciate what we do have and have achieved makes future goal-reaching all the sweeter.
Do you think about yearly goal-setting in December? Or at all? What tips do you have for enjoying the process?