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Seven Tips: Setting and Reaching Goals in the New Year

Updated on November 29, 2019
drmiddlebrook profile image

Former university professor of marketing and communications, Sallie is an independent publisher and marketing communications consultant.

New Year, New You in 2020?

This Hub provides 7 valuable tips to help anyone who might want or need to start over in some way. Whether it is a new job or career, since you're being given a new year, why not use it to achieve some new goals?

Are you someone who knows, without a doubt, it's time for a new beginning in terms of a career, work, or in your personal life? Are you ready to accept the challenge of working to change your life in exciting and/or dramatic ways? Is this your time to begin work on achieving a reality that more resembles what you know now, more than ever, you want for your life?

As we approach the beginning of yet another new year, perhaps there has never been a better time to begin the process of starting over. No matter your age or work status (employed, unemployed, or underemployed), if you want to make some changes, now could be the right time for you to begin again.

I'm not ashamed to tell you, starting all over is a challenge I've accepted. This Hub, in many ways, is a love letter from me to me. Being a writer gives me good reasons to do research on anything that interests me, and every year around this time, I develop a strong interest in starting over. And, since change is an inevitability in life, every year--around this time, I find myself doing research on whatever it is I'm contemplating changing about my life. In other words, writing about starting over underscores for me the fact that I can do it, no matter what "it" is, and because that is true for me, I'm sure it's true for you too.

Time to Make Changes for the Rest Of Your Life . . .

You know where you've been, and now it's time to think about how you can use where you are now to make goals and plans to get you where you want to go from here. Have you taken the time to think about or to set some preliminary goals for starting over? Doing so will help a lot, because you're going to need goals to move you into the next stage of your life.

Do this, for me, right now. Just off the top of your head, say out loud what you want in your life that, at this time, you do not have. Did you say you'd like to do something to help others in a significant way? Are you looking for love? Or, do you need a better job, to earn more money, or to have a better work-life balance? Guess what, it doesn't matter what you said, only that you said something. All you're doing right now is being certain that your mind is made up, and that you truly want to start over or to start something. That's the first ingredient; the most important thing. Everything else comes later.

Change is Hard, But You Can Get There From Here . . .

Don't fret thinking about how hard starting over might be. Instead, set your mind to believe it's possible for you to do it, because you know you must in order to achieve the success you want in life. It might not be easy, and it might take quite a bit of time, planning, and effort. But the bottom line is, you can do it, and you know you can. Now, here are seven tips that always help me get started on any changes I want to make in my life, and I hope they will help you too.

Tip #1: If you don't already have one, start a journal (our use your word processor to create a journal file). Writing will help you to begin thinking about what you want or plan to do with the rest of your life. It doesn't have to take much time. Begin with a mere ten or 15 minutes a day, writing down what you want to do (or what you might think you want to do), and the steps you know you'll have to take in order to accomplish your goals. You can revise your thoughts as you go along, so don't think you have to know everything about what you want to do before you start your journal. There is just something about writing down your thoughts that can help to move you from a state of inertia (doing nothing), to a place where you are developing and acting on plans and goals.

Tip #2: Maybe the spark is lit, but you still don't know exactly what you want to do. You know you're not happy with what you're doing now, so you probably have a pretty good idea about what you don't want to do. That's good! Use it as a starting point. Now, from here begin thinking about your skills, personality, interests, and experience. Make a list of all you bring to the table when it comes to your personal life, your job, your work, or your career area. Doing this will bolster your confidence by bringing you face-to-face with all the strengths you will bring to any project you decide to work on, and any new goals you decide to work to achieve.

Tip #3: Accept that you have challenges/areas of weakness, and vow to make improvements. Maybe there are things about you that you know you need to fix as you begin again. Are there things about your habits, your personality, and your ability to communicate--verbally or in writing, that could be improved? No one is perfect, so admitting you have weaknesses doesn't mean you don't also bring wonderful things to the table as well. But, if you're aware of your weaknesses, of those things about you that might need to change in order for you to achieve our new goals, this knowledge should make it easier for you to get to work on making your changes or improvements. Accepting things you need to change should help you gain the clarity you need about what challenges your new goals might involve as you begin the process of starting over, reaching for new horizons, or working to achieve new goals.

Tip #4: If you believe in the teachings of a religion, now is a good time to use the wisdom, understanding, motivation, inspiration it provides. As a Christian, the Holy Bible helps me through all the ups and downs of my life. If you're a believer, read and absorb what Holy Scripture has to say that might help inspire you or give you the strength you need to make the best decisions as you move forward. It is important to gain satisfaction and a sense of personal fulfillment from being alive. Being part of a community of believers that depend on prayer to strengthen faith, as well as reaching out to a higher power for prayer, gratitude, praise, and worship, can help prepare you for conquering many of the challenges involved in setting and achieving new life goals.

Tip #5: Acknowledge that starting over, setting and planning new goals, making changes--it's probably going to be tough. We all like things that are simple and easy, but, unfortunately, not everything in life is. Some things are easy, others are of moderate difficulty, and still other things are downright hard to do. For example, if your goal is is to start over in your career/work life, you probably know this can be one of the hardest things you could ever choose to do because it requires a lot from you. In many ways, you will be leaving your old life and starting a new one. To accomplish this goal, you will have to let go of a lot of your past, including who you once were. But if you know you're not satisfied, not happy, or not making a good living for yourself with what you're doing now, then starting over in your career or work life might be what you need to do, no matter how tough it might be.

Nostalgic music to inspire you as you start over or make changes in your life.

Tip #6: Listen to what you are saying to you, and make sure what you hear is more positive than negative. The first step in becoming your own best friend is to stop using your internal dialogue, your self-talk, to be unkind to you. Sure, you have shortcomings and challenges, and so does everyone else. But you will become much stronger, and much more effective in getting what you want from you, and what you want from life, when you learn to listen to what you are saying to you. If you find that you are saying negative things to you, about you, then you must begin to replace the negative words in your mind, with positive ones. Then you must learn to use your positive thoughts to take positive actions.

Negative thinking is useless. It has no value in terms of helping you to do anything in life that is worthwhile. It can even cause you to think and talk yourself out of the success that you could be enjoying, now or in the future. The point is to do all you can right now to begin preparing mentally and physically for starting all over.

Tip #7: Make up your mind that this year is going to be your year for getting yourself in gear. It might take a while to start over in some aspect of your personal life or in your career/job, but you have to begin the process somewhere. Not everything has to be in place for you to begin making plans. Just jump in and begin wherever you can. And remember, it's okay (and good) to acknowledge challenges that you will face along the way, but be careful not to accept excuses from yourself or to allow other people to talk you out of making changes you want to make. Friends, even well-meaning ones, might not want to see you become someone different--even as it pertains to what you do for a living. Since you want to change jobs, they might feel that you'll soon want to change friends too. Provide reassurance where necessary, but don't be derailed from your plans if your mind's made up about starting over or making changes, no matter how big or small they might be.

With Changes Come Challenges

As you prepare to begin thinking more about what you want your new life to look like, remember that change is going to be your constant companion. After all, it is true that "if nothing changes, nothing changes."

Now is the time to begin thinking about the changes you'll have to face as you start over or set new goals for your life. If you're considering a career change, consider whether or not you want to remain in the same field, or if you're seeking a different type of job or industry. Or, maybe you're ready to change everything, completely. Maybe you're looking for a very big change, something completely different from what you've been doing for the past 10, 15, or 20 years. If your current job (or last job) did not make you happy, think about what things you hated about it most about it. Then, use that to help you decide what type of work or career might be a better fit for your interests, talents, and skills.

If you're serious about starting over in either your work or your personal life, one thing you're going to have to accept that you will be facing a lot of change. It might help to think about how, after you begin starting over, you'll meet new people, encounter new challenges, discover new strengths, learn new skills, and gain new experiences. Because, in many ways, starting all over or making life changes means leaving behind many parts of the person you were, in order to become the newer, better, improved-in-some-way person you want to be.

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD

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