The following is a guest post from Megan of The Nerd Nest:
Today your 2014 goals are most likely at the forefront of your mind. I believe in you, but I want to make sure your intentions aren’t forgotten already by the time you turn the calendar over to February. However set your plans or resolutions may seem now, they can be difficult to hold onto.
Don’t fret! I’m here to tell you: you can do this. Last year was my year to FINISH, and I’ve learned quite a bit about following through. In 2013, I finished reading the complete works of Poe, Frost, and Shakespeare, finished building my dream bookshelves, finished creating a rad garden, finished making tons of projects, finished filling albums with my best memory keeping yet, finished contributing to friends’ work, finished teaching classes, and finished writing ebooks. I had ideas big and small throughout the year, and pushed myself to carry those ideas through to fruition. I turned myself from a dreamer to a doer, and you can too!
Here are my top five tips to help you commit to getting to the finish line:
Set goals you CAN finish.
You can’t finish if you set an unattainable goal, period. You also will have trouble working towards a goal that you don’t really want. This doesn’t mean you can’t reach for the stars, but it does mean that you need to be honest with yourself so that you don’t burn out. I know this can be a hard balance to reach: you want to challenge yourself, but you want your goals to be attainable too.
For instance, it doesn’t make sense to have the goal of paying off $3,000 in credit card debt this year if you only realistically have $150 left over after your normal monthly expenses. Instead, you can set a more realistic goal of putting a certain dollar amount towards the debt each month, taking precautions to not increase the debt, and working to make side income that can be put entirely towards the debt. Set a SMART goal to ensure that you are working towards something you can finish.
Find a support system.
Sometimes, you’ll need a cheerleader to help you keep going. Tell friends of your plans so they can help you when you feel discouraged, join a community of goal oriented people like One Little Word, or connect with others who have similar goals. Sharing can not only motivate you to finish, but others can also help raise you up when you start to feel like you can’t do it.
More of a loner? Your support system can be all in your head; honest. Develop a mantra you can repeat to yourself to help put you into the right frame of mind.
Come up with a back up plan.
There’s more than one way to finish a goal, and having another pathway will help you to not throw in the towel if things don’t go quite as planned. When I made it a goal to go to the farmer’s market weekly, I found quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the market every weekend. So I found a closer-to-me weekend farmers’ stand and a Wednesday market in my neighborhood, so I could still pick up local produce on the weeks I was too busy to make it to my regular market.
If your goal is to go to the gym three times a week but you find you aren’t doing it, switch to exercise you can do at home. If your goal is to write an hour a day, but you can’t focus during that hour, forget balance every once and awhile and clear a whole day once a month for writing. Make sure you’re not confusing the plans that you made to reach a goal for the goal itself, and be willing to change things up if they aren’t working for you.
Pick the ball back up.
Failure is a natural part of goal setting, but it won’t beat you if you know how to deal with it. I was successful in documenting a Day in the Life monthly in 2013, but completely forgot about the project in November. Instead of giving up on the project, I used what photos I had and filled in the gaps with words. I could have just as easily skipped November, and it still would have been fine. I made what I had work, and didn’t let the different outcome bother me.
If you get sick and don’t feel like doing anything for weeks, start again when you feel better. If you are too close to a project and need to shove it in a drawer for awhile, come back to it when you get enough distance to figure out what you need to change. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, and keep going if you miss the mark.
Know when to re-evaluate.
Sometimes working towards goals you don’t really want anymore can keep you from finishing what is really meaningful to you. I’ll be honest: I made 2013 my year for FINISHing because I wanted motivation to finish my novel manuscript, which I’ve been working on for years. However, I quickly found that working on the manuscript was bringing me lots of stress and no joy or fulfillment, and found my passion, ideas, and creativity to be focused more on other areas, like blogging and Project Life. So I gave myself permission to finish the things that were my passion and leave the book behind–for now or forever.
If you choose multiple goals, you may find that some of them change your life and some of them are better left behind, and that’s okay. You get to decide what you finish, and not finishing some things makes room for you to finish the things you really care about.
I’d love to hear all about your goals for 2014 and your plans for finishing them!
Megan can be found at The Nerd Nest, where she blogs about (and sometimes with) her family of crafty nerds. When she’s not working hard to finish her grand intentions, she’s going on nerdy adventures with her family, spending time filling up Project Life albums, reading big stacks of books, and making stuff.