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Prioritise one or two goals for the start of the year, and return to work on your other goals as the year progresses.

By David Ignatius (Geopolitix)

Published: Sun 30 Dec 2018, 9:35 PM

Last updated: Mon 31 Dec 2018, 12:33 PM

Many of us (including me) are probably thinking about our 2019 goals. Here are some questions to consider when deciding on your goals. If you feel overwhelmed about which goals to choose for the new year, this article is for you.
1. What are your goals a proxy for?
It's absolutely fine to set fun goals. For example, you might want to read a book a week in 2019. However, also think a little bit about what this goal is really about. Perhaps you want to slow down, or want to spend more time doing activities that are pleasure-orientated, and less time doing those that are achievement-focused.
How this helps: This process can clarify what's really important to you. It can also help you understand how your other goals and the rest of your life need to also support your underlying aims.
2. Are your most meaningful goals on your list?
It's easy to end up with a dozen or more ideas for goals you'd like to set yourself, and then feel overwhelmed. If you've got a long list of potential goals, scan through it to see if what's most meaningful to you. For example, what's most important to me are things like: being a good mother, looking after my physical health, being creative in my work, and spending my time how I want to spend it, rather than falling into traps of being busy but inefficient.
How this helps: This question can ensure you have some balance, and that nothing important is completely omitted from your goals list. You can also look at whether your specific goals are the best route to take towards you underlying aim.
3. Know how you're currently spending your time
It's difficult to set goals unless you understand how you spend your time. Everyone has probably heard the famous saying, "What gets measured gets managed." So, what's critically important for you to measure? I started doing a couple of important types of tracking in the last year or two. I use RescueTime (the free version) to track how much time I'm spending on different websites. This gives me a weekly report that shows the hours per week I spend writing, emailing, etc.
. I use an app to track my physical activity, so that I ensure I'm meeting the American Heart Association guidelines of 150 "move minutes" per week.
Both of these are auto-magic and don't require me to manually track anything.
How this helps: When you understand your time use, you'll be better able to plan for overcoming obstacles to your goals. Tracking your time use can also reveal that things you thought were problems aren't really. For example, I thought that I was probably spending too much time in participating in a Slack group I'm a member of, but when I tracked it, it's usually about 2.5 hours a week, which is actually not a problem at all!
4. How does feeling your most creative and being your most creative match up for you?
Feeling creative and being creative aren't necessarily the same. A classic, if extreme, example of this is someone who is having a manic episode. They often think they're being wildly creative, when what they're coming up with is nonsense.
On the flip side, sometimes when people are doing their most meaningful work, they don't necessarily feel creative and inspired. In fact they might feel downright anxious and unconfident, or just like they're slogging it out, pushing a heavy load uphill.
How this helps: This question is just about mindfulness.
5. What are the thinking habits that hold you back?
When you're considering contenders for your goals, consider your problem thinking habits. For example, a thinking habit that holds me back is expecting things not to work (and therefore not trying them). Another is thinking, "I can't do that," when actually nothing is stopping me.
Pick a thinking habit you'd like to change and incorporate this into your goals. Define the change you want to make in behavioral terms. For example, you might decide, "If I think something won't work, but there's no downside to trying it, then I will."
How this helps: Changing your thinking habits can be surprisingly achievable, if you're prepared to chip away at it over an extended period of time. Problem thinking habits often pervade many areas of life, and working on them can be fun and impactful.
These questions might seem like a lot to think about, and that's true. However, you don't need to tackle all your 2019 goals at once. Prioritise one or two goals for the start of the year, and return to work on your other goals as the year progresses.
-Psychology Today
Alice Boyes translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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