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December can be a frantic month. As if planning for the various religious and cultural celebrations that fall during the month wasn’t enough, it is also time to start looking toward the new year. You know what that means, don’t you? That’s right; it’s time to break out the resolutions. Or is it? Make 2022 the best year yet by ditching resolutions and committing to making real change. These five strategies will help you get started. 

1. Check Something Off Your Bucket List

Start the new year off right by picking one thing from your bucket list and making it a reality. Have you always wanted to take an Italy cruise but have put it off? Call a friend, pick a few dates, and book your stateroom. It might be a good idea to brush up on your Italian with a free online course before you go. Learning a new skill is not only fun, but it can also help you stay mentally sharp. 

2. Evaluate Past Goals

Goals do not exist in a vacuum, so if you have several hanging around from the past to taunt you periodically, now is a good time to face them down. Take a good, hard look at old goals and see if they align with where you are right now and — where you want to go.

Be willing to discard any that simply don’t suit you any longer. Instead of looking at it as a failure, consider a growth move. You have merely grown beyond those old, outdated goals of past years. 

3. Pick an Area of Focus

You’ve checked something off your list and looked at what hasn’t worked in the past; now it’s time to choose where you want to go. Start by making a list of your priorities and putting them in order. There is no right or wrong in this process; you are simply listing what matters most to you, which is an incredibly personal process.

Once you have the priority list set, pick one item from the top to focus on. This will help you channel your energy into a single area instead of having you bouncing between competing priorities. Of course, you will still address the other things on your list, but you are going to start goal-setting in your focus area first. 

4. Set SMART Goals

When it comes to goal setting, you want them to be SMART. That is: 

  • Specific — The goal should be something you can pinpoint
  • Measurable — There must be a way to know whether or not you have achieved it
  • Attainable — Keep goals challenging but within realistic reach to avoid frustration and failure
  • Relevant — The goal should be related to your focus area
  • Time-bound — Put a relatively short time limit on achieving the goal to help hold yourself accountable

This formula has been proven to work in personal and business settings, so get comfortable using it. There are plenty of guides and templates available online to help you get started. Eventually, you’ll wonder how you got so far without setting SMART goals. 

5. Track Your Progress

Once you get started working on your goals, you’ll want to track your progress. You remember that measurable aspect of them, right? It also helps hold you accountable by serving as a reminder of your plan. 

Find a system that helps you keep up with different goals and strategies. This will help you see what is and isn’t working. Many people find that journaling or using a planner are effective strategies. This gives you a written record of what you have done, how it went, and what you might do differently going forward. Completing a bucket list item is a great way to start off the new year. Then, work to prioritize what matters most to you and focus your energy on those things. Evaluating past goals, setting SMART ones to move forward, and monitoring your progress will help you stay on track and succeed.