Many of us begin our year with a set of goals we hope to accomplish before the year ends. Whether or not you consider these to be “New Year’s resolutions”, the beginning of a year—be it academic or calendar—is an opportunity to lay out your plan for success. Deciding to return to school. Exercising more regularly. Quitting a bad habit. Personal goals can vary from small to large, depending on what you’re seeking to improve.
It’s common for people to lose momentum as the year progresses—to feel burnt out towards the middle of the year. At times like this, it might feel tempting to give up—it might even feel like you have given up—but that lull in inspiration you’re feeling is a just a setback that can be overcome by checking in with your goals and making the right adjustments to stay on track.
As you implement your plan for success, it is important to check in regularly. Taking time periodically to see where you are in regards to where you envisioned yourself will keep you on track and help you pace yourself. You’ll see if you’re falling behind, and you can address whatever’s holding you back.
Are you taking too many classes? Working too many hours at your job? Even if the hindrances are not easy fixes, you need to identify them early. Some important questions to ask yourself are:
• What have I already accomplished?
• Have I accomplished what I wanted to by now?
• Do I have enough time or support to do everything I’ve set out to do?
• What have I been doing right? Where can I improve?
• What do I need to achieve my goals?
• Can I realistically accomplish everything in the time I’ve allotted myself?
Sometimes you forget to check in when caught in the throes of your day-to-day life. When you are constantly on the go, stepping back to analyze yourself isn’t always easy. It helps to check in at lulls in your schedule, like weekends or on your time off between quarters.
Seek Inspiration and Encouragement
Nothing keeps you going better than the support of those around you. Building a network of people to root for you is a great way to maintain momentum. It makes it easier to check in with your goals if you have somebody to check in with—to help you keep track of your progress, such as a personal trainer or work out buddy for your fitness goals.
These people celebrate with you when you succeed. They cheer you on and inspire you during periods of struggle. Their belief in you can be as inspiring as your own determination. They can be your family or friends. In class or at work they can be the team working with you on a project. Strayer University pairs students with Success Coaches for this very reason: to help you implement a plan, motivate you to stay the course, and hold you accountable for your own success.
Every item you check off your list is a milestone—something to celebrate. Goals are comprised of individual achievements, and it is extremely gratifying to count down every yard to the finish life.
Instead of envisioning your goals as one long project, try looking at them as a series of smaller, more attainable goals you can hit in the interim. It gives you more to look forward to, and helps your goals feel more realistic.
Don’t think of an “A” in your business management course as one goal to strive for all quarter. Instead, review the syllabus and look at each assignment, quiz, and exam leading up to the final as their own goals. Reward yourself after each one, because you deserve it! Treat yourself to something special so that you feel special. Relax after each, and then continue working towards the next.
Readjust When Necessary
There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but sometimes the temptation is there to be too ambitious in your goal setting. This is especially true at the beginning when you don’t know what the year will hold. Seeking a promotion while managing a 16 credit course load and hoping for a 4.0 GPA isn’t easy.
If you bit off more than you can chew, don’t be afraid to readjust your goals. Ask yourself:
• What am I having trouble with?
• Is this something I can feasibly improve in?
• How much more time, resources, or energy would I need to accomplish this?
• Can this wait till later?
• What are my priorities?
Not every goal will be a priority, and there are some you can afford to put off until you accomplish those which are. It’s healthy, and it shows a commitment to doing your best, if you recognize when you’ve stretched yourself too thin.
It’s never too late to begin checking in with your goals, especially if you’ve felt yourself losing steam. If you’ve experienced a lack of motivation, felt stressed or overworked, or thought you’re falling behind at all, you might not be pacing yourself. Checking in now can help you end the year strong, and give you the clarity to plan your next set of goals.