I used to think setting goals was just saying/writing down what you wanted and then magic happened and you achieved your goals. After I started diving into the rabbit hole that is learning about self improvement and goal setting, I realized how simplistic and naive that approach was. There is a science to setting effective goals in a way that almost guarantee’s that they’re attainable. As I learn about goal setting I update my methods and try out different things, trying to find the best and most effective system for me.
Now, I didn’t share my goals for this year with all of you at the beginning of the year like I had planned, mostly because it took me a good month and a half to sort out what they were and to state them as clearly as possible and figure out an action plan.
But before I share them with you, here are few things I’ve noticed in regards to goal setting:
Language. Every “goal setting guru” will probably tell you that writing down your goals is probably the most crucial thing you can do towards achieving them. It shows commitment and sort of makes your goals “official” in the eyes of the universe but I’ve also noticed that HOW you write them is equally if not more important. Write them in the affirmative, “I will”, “I have”, “I am” and never “I want to”, “I’d like to”, “It would be nice if” etc. This sets your brain to work as if your goal was something certain therefor attainable instead of a dream, a wish, a possibility which is not always certain or attainable.
Categories. This is a theory I’m testing out this year as I’ve mentioned before here but if you’re having trouble defining what you want or if you tend to focus on one area of your life too much and ignore the other areas then this is definitely something you want to try. Having goal categories like “Career”, “Relationships”, “Financial”, “Health” etc., can really help you get clear on what you want and it’ll help you keep some sort of balance when it comes to overall self improvement.
Editing. I know most of us feel like if we don’t set goals right at the beginning of the year then there’s no use in doing so anymore and we just fall into the “oh well, I’ll do it next year” mindset and the cycle repeats itself right? Same thing we do with exercising (if we don’t start on a Monday we wait until the next Monday to start) and eating healthy etc. Well, I’m here to tell you to stop with the excuses and set some goals right now. There’s no such thing as a “perfect time”, there’s no specific time to set goals and it’s never too late to start doing so. Also, it’s OK to edit your goals as the year goes by. As I learn more about goal setting and get clearer and clearer on what it is that I want (because what you want might change) I am constantly re-evaluating my goals, clarifying areas that might not be clear, correcting any ineffective language I might have used and so on.
Reviewing. This piggy-backs on the previous point. Reviewing your goals helps to keep you on track, provides time to edit your goals and mark off what you’ve achieved, what’s working and what’s not and it’s a good way to log your experiences with working towards achieving a goal. Having these visual logs helps you identify patterns and the best ways of doing things for YOU for future goals and projects you might want to pursue.
Breaking Down Your Goals. By defining smaller actions you can do monthly, weekly and daily towards achieving your goals.
My Main Goals for 2015
- Pass every class I register for this year. There will be a post on my school situation (eventually) and I’ll link it here once it’s up.
- Blog consistently throughout the year. Establish a posting schedule and stick to it.
- 10,000 yuan in savings. I’m calling this one my “impossible goal” which is a goal that’s a little – or a lot – out of your grasp but you’re going to go for it anyway.
Buy the Canon 600D.I need this for school, for a whole bunch of projects I want to do and I’ve been talking about doing this for over 2 years so it has to be done.
- Establish a solid exercise routine. Because I believe in living a healthy lifestyle and preventing disease before it hits and if I feel like I need to stop talking about this, to stop being inconsistent and exercising sporadically and actually commit to it.
- Be more social and develop new, meaningful friendships. I tend to be very “meh”‘ about being around people and get a little anxious about interacting with people sometimes so I plan on attending more social events and putting in effort into maintaining the new friendships I make.
- Make one piece of clothing each month. I’ve always wanted to learn how to sew. Last year I thought I was serious about it and even bought a sewing machine around July which honestly, I only used for the first time sometime January this year. So this year I’m committed to making one piece of clothing every month. Hopefully but the end of the year I can be confident in my sewing skills and actually start working on another little project I have. I’m documenting the journey towards building a wardrobe here so feel free to check it out. Sewing posts and pictures of what I’m making will most definitely be over there.
(As you can see, I have at least one goal for each category I plan on working on this year – Career, Financial, Health and Relationships).
1st Quarter Goals Review (January – March)
- Develop and keep up with my study schedule. Is not happening (see “Struggles” bellow).
Start blogs, develop a schedule and stick to them.I started my architecture blog which was a BIG project that still brings me quite a bit of anxiety but I finally started it, set up a schedule for it and now it’s all a matter of keeping up with it. Very proud of myself for that! I’ve been doing pretty well with this blog. If you’ve noticed there’s been a post almost every Monday so that’s cool. Also started my style blog and I’ve also been very good at keeping up with the schedule and I’m posting every Friday so I’m happy about that.
- Save an extra 500 yuan. Did not happen. I’ve been unreasonably irresponsible with keeping with up with my budget so this did not happen at all.
Buy the Canon 600D.Pictured at the beginning of this post so yaaaaay!!!
- Do yoga every morning. Has not been happening. I’m sleeping very late which means I wake up really close to when I need to be out the door which means I have no time in the morning to exercise. Also, I’ve realized this is a mistake in planning. Everyday is not a realistic timeline for me and I plan on changing that (see “Struggles” below).
Participate in at least one cultural event/trip.I was very fortunate to have gone on an incredible New Year’s trip with the wonderful people of CECP and we went to a few cultural spots outside Wuhan, Ezhou and Lushan Mountain in JiangXi and explored ancient buildings and it was an amazing amazing trip. I was so reluctant to do this but at the end of the day it ended up being even better than I expected! Brought in the New Year with the most beautiful sunset and dolphins! How cool is that? Also made a couple of really good friends during this trip which is just a cherry on top. Make 2 items of clothing.And I did! Still nowhere near perfect but I felt so proud of actually having made something that looks halfway decent! It’s an amazing feeling to make something with your own hands! Was a little overwhelmed at the fabric market and lazy with things like learning how to put in a zipper but I’m getting there.
Successes: What IS working
- Setting one day to work on the blogs. All the work related to the blogs is done on Friday and that’s been working out really well for me. It keeps me from stressing about writing blog posts and such on any other days of the week.
Struggles: What ISN’T working
- Underestimating how much time my schoolwork takes. It seems like even though the amount of classes has reduced, the amount of time it takes to complete each classes’ tasks is way way more than I estimated and when I don’t finish the work in the amount of time I allocated for it I get very frustrated and more likely to procrastinate next time I have to work on it because I feel like “I’m not going to finish anyway so why bother start?”. I plan on being more realistic with scheduling time to work on school and focus on doing the most important tasks first thing.
- Sleeping on time. I’ve set a bedtime for myself and I need to be more strict with keeping it. When I don’t sleep, my entire next day is thrown off balance, especially exercising. If I wake up late I can’t exercise thus messing with my health goals. I also know that not sleeping is a stress response for me and I need to more actively fight the urge to avoid sleeping when I’m stressed. Which brings me to the next point…
- Managing stress. When I worry or stress about things in my life I either eat my feelings which usually means going off budget, avoid sleeping (refer to previous point) or procrastinate into infinity which means things get delayed, which means less time to work on stuff (refer to first point) which means more stress and they cycle continues. Since you can’t really “eliminate” a bad habit but you can exchange it for a better one (more on that later) I’m going to replace my negative stress responses with better ones, more precisely gong for a 30min run. I’ve been meaning to start doing this for ages and I think it’s about time I commit to it (plus, now that I’ve told you guys about it i feel like I HAVE to do it).
2nd Quarter Goals (April – June)
- Develop an effective study schedule and keep up with it. Effective meaning allocating realistic amounts of time for the work I need to do.
- Save an extra 1,500 yuan (500/month).
- Do yoga Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings. These are the days where I don’t have classes extra early in the morning therefore this is more realistic for me.
- Attend the Dragon Boat Festival and write a blog about it. Forcing myself to blog about it will hopefully keep me from finding an excuse not to partake in it.
- Make 3 items of clothing.
What About You?
- What are your goals for the year?
- What were your 1st Quarter Goals and how have you kept up with them?
- What has been working for you and what hasn’t? How do you plan on changing that?
- What are your 2nd Quarter Goals?
Please share in the comments below!!