Have you made a New Year’s resolution? Whether you have or not, this is a great time of year to consider and set goals.
The quiet aftermath of the holidays lends itself well to reflecting on the past and setting intentions for the future. It’s an easy time to remember to check in with yourself. January is a still time of year that you can spend sowing the seeds of your future. When you visualize the life you want, it leads to finding the steppingstones that will get you there.
Start by looking back at the past year. Consider what goals or intentions you had. Did you accomplish them? If so, how does that make you feel? Does this accomplishment lead naturally into a new goal for the year ahead? If you didn’t accomplish them, consider why not. Perhaps the intention is no longer relevant to your desired future or maybe you lost track of time and want to try again this year. Understanding the obstacles that kept you from achieving a past goal can help you clear a path for anything you want to accomplish going forward.
Next, think about your future. What does the life you want look like? How is it the same or different from your present circumstances? What needs to change to get you from here to there? Be realistic with yourself in this process. If you get ahead of yourself, you may become frustrated and give up. For example, if you hope to be a leader in your field of expertise and are currently in an entry-level position, aiming to be a CEO by next year is not a practical ambition. But there are things that can get you closer to that coveted role—taking a course, meeting with industry leaders for advice and mentorship, or volunteering in a relevant capacity for more experience are all pragmatic ways to move towards your desired end point.
Keep the SMART goal method in mind to ensure your aspirations are manageable. Goals should be:
Putting parameters around your aspirations helps you keep track of them and follow through. And taking time to reflect on past goals helps you take stock of what’s really important to you. If you look back and realize you didn’t do what you set out to, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s okay if you didn’t make as much progress as you hoped to. Life gets busy. Just take that as a prompt to review and recalibrate. Carry forward goals that still matter to you. Figure out what you require to make them more achievable this year. Would it help to schedule time specifically for your goals? Should you find an accountability buddy to help you stay on top of what you plan to do? Create an environment for yourself that supports your ambition.
Whether you plan to learn a new skill, read more, do more creative projects, or focus on fitness, the plans you make shape the life you will lead. When you plan for your future, you take control of it. This is especially empowering for survivors of intimate partner violence, who have experienced powerlessness and diminished agency. Checking in with yourself each year helps you see your progress. It shows you how much you can achieve on your own. It gives you permission to envision and go after the life you want.
You don’t have to call it a resolution. But if you take the time to plan the landscape of your life while the ground is frozen and the nights are long, you will be amazed to see what blossoms in the sunshine you invite into your life.