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How To Get Ready For Next Year

Taking stock at the end of the year and setting goals, priorities, and strategies is a process made much easier if you’re the sort of person who tracks their progress in a journal, or an app. If you’re not it might be a little trickier, but it’s not impossible. Let’s dive in!

If you’ve got a journal or app, take a spin through the last year and consider first the progress you’ve made. Write it down somewhere. Then look through again and think about where your setbacks were – list them out, and if you can, write a few words about why you think they happened.

If you don’t track your progress in a journal or app or any other method but memory, don’t worry. Just think back as best you can and consider your progress and your setbacks. Write it down somewhere and don’t be afraid to ramble, or just make bullet pointed lists.

Now look at those two lists. All the progress you made, and all the setbacks you had. Now write the final list of what 2022 was like – despite the reasons, and the setbacks, this was the progress you made. Linger here and pat yourself on the back!

When you’re ready to look forward into 2023, set your goals first. These are your big ticket items, and they all have end points. They might look like ‘I want to spend more time with family’, or ‘I want to lose weight’, or ‘I want to eat at home more’ or ‘I want to quit smoking’ or ‘I want to watch less TV’. They could be anything.

Now sort them into priorities. What’s most important for you to accomplish?

Now look at each goal in turn. Write down at least three things you can do to make that goal happen. These are the strategies that will get you to your goal, and they involve changing how you live your life. Let’s look at an example:

Goal: I want to spend more time with family.

Strategies: I could set an alarm twice a week to come home on time/early to spend more time at home with family. I could set a reminder to call my cousins once a month and reconnect. I could set a time and have Saturday Breakfast with my siblings a few times a year. I could dust off the board games and teach my children to play them – we could have a weekly board game night.

In the above example, there were four strategies to spend more time with family, two of which were weekly or more often, two of which were montly or less often. Each strategy is a concrete action – it may involve others participating, so it might not work out as smoothly as we imagine, but it’s a thing we could conceivably accomplish either repeatedly, or just once.

Find stragies for each of your goals and list them all out.

Look at your strategies for your number one goal. Pick the first strategy that is weekly or more often and earmark it for January. Pick the first strategy that is monthly or less often and earmark it for January.

January is now full.

Continue this process for all the strategies of your first prioirty goal. Fill up the months beginning in January with one weekly or more often strategy, and one monthly or less often strategy.

Then begin with your second priority – fill up the rest of the months in 2023 with one weekly and one monthly strategy per month, going down your priority list.

When you get to a full December, stop. You have just reached your reasonable change limit for the year.

Do not go back and squeeze in just one more change. Humans only have so much willpower to make effective and lasting change and the rule of thumb is one new habit per month.

So, in fact, if there is a change that requires you to do it every single day – then it’s time right now to go back and rejigger your schedule because you can only manage that one change that month. So if July requires you to do a new habit every day, July only gets that one change.

There you have it. Keep this list – add it to your journal, if you keep one, or put it in a safe place, if you don’t. Go ahead and add your new habits to your calendar, however you keep it, to each month and whichever days you need to do the new thing on.

Now get ready to employ just enough willpower, and reap the benefits of your new changes! And if you need more help with the willpower aspect, and keeping on top of your resolutions, I highly recommend James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. It’s a keeper.

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