This might be an unpopular opinion, but January is actually my favorite month of the year. It’s a clean slate, a time to believe and dream again, and an opportunity to clean up all the messes made in 2018 (especially around self-care and health). Considering all this, and the strength and clarity that comes along in January, I believe it’s important to utilize this month to optimize the entire year. Here are six things we can all do to start 2019 off right.
- Identify Key Big-Picture Goals You don’t have to have goals in every area of your life—relationships, money, career, family, etcetera; instead, focus on whatever buckets you feel most compelled to improve or change. Be specific and prioritize, as the idea is to execute against these goals. Don’t forget to consider less obvious categories like health and charity. If you aren’t sure what your goals are for the new year, consider creating a vision board, either IRL or on Pinterest. Make sure at least one of the big-ticket items on this list is something that terrifies you—if you accomplish little else in 2019, doing this one thing will make you feel like the year mattered.
- Break Down Each Goal into Smaller Goals Aiming to save up to buy a house is a great goal; however, it’s also overwhelming and vague. Figure out what smaller goals could feed into this goal—in this example, it would be to pay off your credit card debt or take on a side gig that will bring in extra income.
- Plot These Smaller Goals into Your Calendar Now that you have your smaller goal—e.g. “earn $10,000 in extra income”—plot this into the calendar. How much can you realistically aim to take in each month? Set regular calendar appointments to keep you on track. If your goal is relationship-based—e.g. meeting someone new—set regular date appointments into your calendar and bumble your way into them. These appointments will keep you accountable as the year’s many demands threaten to overwhelm your resolutions.
- Evaluate What Didn’t Work in 2018 If the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, we think it’s wise to start the new year by identifying what didn’t work for you in 2018 so you can avoid it in 2019. Did a specific friendship cause you innumerable headaches? Cut it. Can you see an unhealthy pattern in your dating life? Resolve to change it. Did you complain about your job daily? It’s time to find a new one. Even looking at smaller things, like a resolution to go to the gym every day that didn’t work out, are worth evaluating—maybe this year, your goal is instead to find a class you like, trying one new workout per week until you’ve settled on something that actually incentivizes you.
- Make a Networking List Whether you’re interested in quietly pursuing a different career path or would like to keep advancing in your current field, investing in your network is critical. Make a plan in January to meet with a certain number of individuals each month of the year who may help, advise or inspire your 2018 path. Reach out and schedule an initial round of meetings, and set reminders each month to schedule the following month’s touch bases.
- Wake Up One Hour Earlier Than You Did Last Year For whatever reason, we often have the fortitude to follow through on big, hard changes like this in January more so than in any other month. Resolve to wake up an hour earlier starting in January to set the tone for the rest of the year. Then, use that found hour toward your goals, to work out or even just to meditate. The new habit may not stick throughout the entire year, but you may be surprised how much better the extra hour makes you feel and wonder how you ever survived without it.