Don’t wait for the New Year.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about goals recently. After competing in Miss Maryland USA, finishing the Marine Corps Marathon, and somehow finding myself in my CrossFit gym’s competition class, I’ve been experiencing what I’ve come to know as “goal hangover.”

Goal hangover is when you’ve crushed one (or a few) of your major goals, and then, after you take time to celebrate it, you’re left with this “okay… and now what?” feeling. It’s goal hangover because, like an actual hangover, you kind of feel… blah.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals. What now? What do I really, really want? What direction do I go in, how do I get myself there, and where do I even start?

Most people in this goal hangover situation would wait until the New Year — after all, it’s only a month away. But waiting until the New Year means that you’ve lost an entire month that you could have used to get closer to your dreams.

So here we go — I’m about to blow your mind. You don’t need a new year, a new month, or even a Monday to set goals. You only need an hour or two of time to yourself, a few pieces of paper, and a pen that won’t give out on you.

Write them down. One of my favorite writers, Brian Tracy, has taught me that the action of writing out your goals increases the likelihood that you will achieve them by a thousand percent. Why? Because when you write down what you want, you commit it to your subconscious mind. The action of writing is powerful; it subconsciously affirms what we really want and our commitment to get after it.

Start with your vision. In order to know what your goals are, you have to know where you are going and why you want to get there. The first step is writing out your vision for your life, whether it be one, five, or ten years down the road. If you’ve never done this before, it’s going to feel funny. That’s okay — discomfort helps us to grow. Write your vision in first person present tense, and get specific! What is it like when you wake up in the morning? What do you smell or hear? Are you married? With children or without? How do you use your time? What does your job look like? What is your dog’s name? Don’t restrict yourself or convince yourself it’s stupid– this is your dream life. If you can imagine it, it’s important to you. Write it down!

Next, identify exactly what you want. Again, don’t restrict yourself! How are you ever going to get the life you’ve always imagined if you don’t even give yourself the permission to dream about it? Take time to read through your vision and identify what you want in each key area of your life: personal, career, family, and health. What do you want to accomplish in the next year? The next five years? The next ten? Write down a goal for each area and for each span of time. Again, specificity is key!

Give yourself deadlines and deliverables. What will signify that you’ve accomplished your goal? How long do you think you’ll need to accomplish it? Be realistic but also challenging with your deliverables and deadlines. If a goal isn’t lofty enough, you’ll be less enticed to get started today.

Take action! Do something — anything! — to get yourself moving towards your dreams as soon as possible. Like, as soon as you’ve finished getting them in ink. Decide what steps you can take to get going, and get. it. done.  If you want to lose ten pounds, go for a run or sign up for an exercise class. Want to get out of debt? Make a small payment towards your credit card. It doesn’t have to be big action, it just has to be forward progress.

Revisit your goals daily. I like to write mine down often, because the act of writing is so powerful and helps to clarify exactly what I want. Doing this in the morning helps you to start your day focused on working towards you biggest and baddest dreams. Doing this is going to make you feel like a rockstar, trust me.

Consider this: you have $1,000 that you intend to place in a savings account. The banker gives you two options. You can begin earning 5% interest today or you can wait, and begin earning 5% interest on January 1st. Which would you choose?

The obvious choice is to start making more money today.

So don’t wait for the New Year.  Or Monday. You don’t need a special day to chase your dreams. You can get after them today. Right now, even. Grab a pen and get started.

If you’re interested in more one-on-one help with clarifying and crushing your goals, I’d love to help! For more information and rates, drop me a line at jengilbert11@gmail.com.

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