At the start of every year, I notice this weird feeling creeping in. If you’re like me, January comes with a lot of pressure to put big plans in place for the year ahead. I know everyone has their timeline, and everyone’s goals look different, but that doesn’t change the nagging narrative that’s going on in the back of my mind.
It sounds something like this:
“I know that I’m still young, and things will take time to pan out the way I want… BUT it
would be nice if I owned property, or invested, or could afford to have a baby, or had someone to have a baby with, or had more money saved so I could travel or knew how to save so I could have more money in the first place.” It’s a fun story.
This year, I’m trying to look at things differently. So, if this is you in any way, we’re going to work together on some simple steps to create some clarity and reduce the new year anxiety.
1. Visualise the goals:
Think of each goal as a little metal monopoly token. A charm-sized baby, a tiny house, a
successful career (rather abstract, I know. Let’s visualise a stethoscope just for kicks), a wad of cash, a partner, a seaside artisanal bakery, whatever. All the ‘big deal’ things we want in life are now tiny silver objects in the palm of our hand.
2. Pick your priorities:
Now that we know what’s important, we can prioritise. The new year feels like the starting point of our entire future. I think, “I’ve got 12 months to achieve everything I want. It’s plenty of time.” It’s daunting, and 12 months isn’t that much time. Let’s work towards one or two goals in a year to start. I’m picking the stethoscope and the wad of cash. So now we’ve got one or two tiny tokens in front of us. Place the rest somewhere safe.
3. Plan the steps:
Put your high-priority pieces at the end of a blank page and write down small steps we can take to get to them. Small is the keyword here. We want easy, daily tasks that we can be consistent with. What I can do is focus on my studies and do well so I have the best shot at my goal. I’ll write down, ‘commit myself to attend all lectures, prioritising assignments, planning enough time to complete tasks to my best abilities.’ That’s easy enough.
4. Track your moves:
Your steps should include physical tasks you can tick off as you complete them. Make an effort to celebrate getting to your smaller goals. Being able to track and tick off achievements helps maintain motivation and see our progress on our timeline
For the cash goal, I can learn how to be more financially literate. With that knowledge, I can set monthly financial savings goals, so I have something to celebrate.
5. Don’t compare your pieces:
“Other people already have all this, and they’re younger than me.” It’s a nightmare. When I tell you how upset I get that Taylor Swift is younger than me and almost a billionaire. It’s irrational and insane, but it’s the truth. I must not compare myself to T Swizz. We are not the same person.
Gaining clarity on what’s most essential and achievable helps put things into perspective. Ms. Swift and I have different goals. I don’t want to be a billionaire, a singer, or famous.
6. Keep all the tokens safe on your journey:
Now that we have our pieces and our plan, and we’re not looking at other people’s boards, we can tackle the year – day by day with focus. When you’re ready in six months or maybe in 2024, or whenever it aligns with your timeline, pull out the other metal tokens and see if they’re still what you want. You might be closer to some of them than you thought, and you can start your map all over again with shorter timelines.
The most overwhelming part of the new year is its potential, and how all-consuming and massive our goals feel. If we remember to scale them down to tasks for each month, week, or day, they’re not as scary. With these steps, it’s easier to see our abstract life goals as something concrete and achievable.
Share your goals for 2023 with us in the comments! I promise, they’re always less
intimidating once you’ve written them down.