Flipping the calendar always reminds us that the beginning of a new month is the opportunity for other new beginnings, too.
A new month is a chance to re-evaluate goals, make new ones, and sketch out plans for succeeding.
Today, let’s take some time to consider some simple steps anyone can take for establishing goals and making any month a fantastic month.
Idea 1: Reflect on the Previous Month
Think about your successes and challenges from the previous month.
- What went well?
- Where did you struggle?
- In what areas of your life did you make progress? Can you build on that?
- In what areas of your life do you feel you stalled? What would it take to get you moving there?
- When were you truly happy last month? Why? How can you recapture those moments?
Writing your responses to those questions into a notebook or a journal will help solidify in your mind where you’ve been and where you should be going.
If your goals are financial, then reviewing your expenses and expenditures from the previous month can be really helpful for making a difference in the new month.
A key element to making this month fantastic is to honestly evaluate how fantastic last month was (or wasn’t). Be honest, but know, too, that things can always get better, if we work for them.
Idea 2: Think Ahead. Your New Goals Should Align with Big Goals for Your Life.
Do you know what you really want out of life?
Now is the time to start making plans for the life you’ll lead months and years into the future. It doesn’t need to feel overly dramatic. Just understand that you’ll never get to where you want to be if you don’t get going.
We’re dedicated here to offering practical tips for living the kind of lives we want to live, which is why we keep things focused on the tangible we can make today that will echo throughout tomorrow. We focus on the now. For this last suggestion, though, project your mind to a year from now, then three years, and then five.
Use your notebook again to write down three goals from each timeframe. Just bringing them into the world in this way can have a profound effect on your planning and performance.
Idea 3: Be Selective With Your Monthly Goals.
An early strategy for helping you reach your goals is to make sure you’re picking the right goals. That doesn’t mean completely stacking the deck by choosing lightweight goals (none of that “Tie my shoes correctly” nonsense). Instead, think about how your goals fit into your life, how attainable they are, and what it will really take to be successful.
One helpful way to think about goals to apply the SMART acronym to your planning. What are SMART goals?
S: Specific. The more specific you can make a goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. Be as exact as you can, without limiting yourself. Some specific goals might be: Jog 30 minutes three times a week; Study for my History exam using flashcards I make; and Submit three complete job applications this month.
M: Measurable. Choose goals that are measurable. Additionally, choose measurements you can control. “Lose five pounds” is an example of a measurable goal that’s less productive because specific weight loss numbers are often beyond our control. Instead, consider goals that measure your effort. You can measure time spent on a task, for example, or distance run, or sets completed.
A: Achievable. Make sure your goals can be achieved within your power. Getting a new job is a poor goal, for example, because you aren’t entirely in charge of your success. Becoming an astronaut is a fine goal, long term, but isn’t realistic for this month. For those large goals, think about smaller pieces that help you move in the right direction.
R: Relevant. Make sure your goals matter. Seek out goals that can lead to improvement, advancement, health, and happiness. Give some thought to what you really want as well as what you really need. Those will be the most meaningful and the most relevant goals.
T: Timely. Select goals that matter now. It can be easy to build goals that are simply a rehash of previously missed commitments but don’t let yourself get caught in that trap. Don’t get bogged down with something you should have completed in the past. Move forward with a focus on today and tomorrow.
Thinking about your goals using the SMART acronym will help you make sure the goals you select are where you should be focusing your energy. Having the right goals is a big piece of having a fantastic month.
Idea 4: Track Your Progress.
There’s a saying in the corporate world: What gets measured gets done. You can help make your month fantastic by committing to tracking the progress you’re making to achieve your goals.
Go back to that notebook you used for Idea One and start a daily list of the ways you’re working on your goals. Consider:
- Jotting down how long you work-out/study/meditate/read for fun/whatever every day.
- Listing your meals and snacks
- Recording a favorite line from what you read today
- Making a note of submitted job applications
You can only track your progress after correctly following the SMART method of goal setting. Having measurable goals means you can track them, in your notebook or on a calendar, and then you’ll have the easy reminder of where you’ve been successful and where you need to pick up your game a bit.
Idea 5: Allow Failure.
You’ve made good choices with your goals, you’ve got a plan for meeting them, and you’re ready to track your progress. There’s nothing to it but to do it.
But what if you can’t?
That’s all right. Small setbacks are expected. Don’t beat yourself up over some failures. Take advantage of failures as a chance to review your approach and reflect on why you met some goals and didn’t meet others. Every failure is a learning opportunity.
Don’t think that failure is an end. A lot of life coaches discuss the difference between having a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Being in a fixed mode means you’re cemented into one perspective and one plan. Focusing on a growth mindset helps you understand that we can always being moving forward.
Most of all, give yourself a break. Take a breath. Then get back to work.
It’s a New Month! Are You Ready With New Goals?
Life is a journey. Take advantage of this new month to make it fantastic. Then do it again. And again. Before you know it, those fantastic months will lead to fantastic years, and the completion of the goals that will bring you to where you want to be.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about making goals for the new month. Drop some feedback into the comment section so you can brag about your efforts!