Time is flying, the clock is ticking, and soon it will be January 1st, 2019. You will be filled with the exuberance and boundless enthusiasm of a new-born fawn in a 1950s children’s cartoon. You will be awash with fresh purpose and also Schloer left over from the night before.
Sadly, though, that feeling of sun-bright brilliance and vague bubbliness will not last. It can’t. It’s a snowflake and it will melt on your tongue before you have a chance to taste it. I’m not trying to be depressing, here; it just comes naturally to me. If your life is a rom com, I am the permanently single, straight-talking best friend who tells you firmly to get your shit together while gulping down her obnoxiously black and terrifyingly hot cup of coffee. You’re very lucky that you’ve found me. I’m here to tell you how to meet your goals in 2019.
1. Take Advantage of Your Own Self-Deception
A new year makes us feel like we can conquer the world, which is sadly not true (and also a morally questionable aspiration, Susan. I’ve got my eye on you). However, just because it’s not true, doesn’t make the feeling any less real—or less powerful.
My grandmother always said, “Waste not, want not”. Actually, she always said, “You’ll eat every scrap of that dinner now or you’ll have it for your breakfast tomorrow,” but I know what she meant. And the sentiment applies wonderfully to the magical few weeks of motivation every new year brings. Don’t let them pass you by: take ruthless advantage of them.
During that period of blissful self-delusion, you will be more productive than ever before. Use that mental boost to tick the most annoying, finnicky or boring tasks off of your To Do list, and you’ll have more time later for the important stuff. Anything you need to do but really don’t want to do should be scheduled for January. Trust me. You won’t believe the difference it makes.
Planning dentist appointments? Handled. Writing down everyone’s birthdays in your diary and setting calendar alerts so you remember to buy them presents? Sorted. Collecting all the receipts and invoices you’ve shoved into your purse, various coat pockets, and desk drawers? Dealt with. If it’s dull, dreary, and slightly mind-numbing, do it in January. I guarantee it’ll take less time than in any other month. You’ll be off to a fabulous and productive start. It’s like a springboard into achievement!
2. Don’t Push Too Hard: the Magic of Micro-Goals
We are all guilty of setting unnecessarily outlandish goals for ourselves because the shininess of a squeaky-clean new year is getting in our eyes. You feel like a whole new bean and so you decide that this is the year you will save £10,000/travel the continent/break your lifelong habit of buying five new books for every one that you finish.
The problem with those worthy aims is that they’re all quite daunting. Once the sparkle of the new year wears off—and it will—you’ll find yourself staring at your goals the way a gazelle might stare at a lioness just before, you know, imminent death.
Pressure is deadly, is what I’m saying here. The victim of the imminent homicide? Your motivation.
This conundrum is why I split my goals into two different kinds. The first kind is, well, A Goal: for example, learning Russian. (This is seriously just an example. I don’t have room in my head for anymore alphabets.) The second kind is a micro-goal. It’s a step that I’m going to take towards my main goal.
So if my goal is to learn Russian, my micro-goals might be as follows:
- Find learning resources.
- Save up to buy the ones that cost money.
- Grasp the Cyrillic alphabet. (Ha! We’re veering into fantasy-land here, but I digress.)
- Begin studying grammar.
- Find simple Russian media to consume.
And so on.
Why are micro-goals important? Because a year is a long, full, forgettable time, and big goals that take forever tend to get abandoned and dusty on the mantelpiece of life. But acknowledging our smaller efforts and achievements along the way keeps things current and fresh, making our main goal stick in our minds. We are simple animals; all we want is to celebrate ourselves and feel accomplished. Give your monkey brain what it needs. Establish, acknowledge and achieve your micro-goals, and you will be meeting your major goals before you know it.
3. Understand What ‘a Year’ Really Means, and Plan Accordingly
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Talia, darling, I appreciate the help, but I already know what a year is. It’s actually quite common knowledge. Read a book.”
Yes, alright, smarty-pants, but knowing something logically and knowing it deeply and consistently as you go about your life are two very different things. For example, I know logically that I am taller than most Tudors, but I still forget to bend when entering very old buildings. Do you see what I’m saying? I think you do.
What the government doesn’t want you to realise is that a year really isn’t that long. If you work in publishing you already know this. You have probably been waiting six months for your cat to get back to you about the manuscript you asked her to beta read. But if you don’t work in publishing you might still be hazy on my meaning.
Allow me to illustrate the point with some thoroughly questionable mathematics and assumptions about your life span. If we say, theoretically, that your independence began at twenty, and that your wind-up motor will not begin to slow until you are eighty, then the body of your life consists of sixty whole years. That’s a lot of years.
Do you have sixty major goals? I bet you don’t, not because you lack imagination and drive but because really, who the hell has that many goals? Only Beyoncé, and she’s special.
Most people have ten major goals at a push. Which means that in 2019, you don’t need to learn Russian (I’m not obsessed, it’s just a beautiful language), become a champion figure skater and get your first book deal. You don’t even need to achieve one of those goals. Mathematically speaking, you could achieve one-sixth of one and you’d be doing very well.
What I’m saying here is, don’t set yourself up for a fall this year by expecting to depose Donald Trump in a mere twelve months. That is clearly a 36-month sort of plan. When you’re setting your goals, remember what ‘a year’ really means. Be sensible, be reasonable, be thoughtful, and you’ll find yourself with meaningful goals and micro-goals (remember those?) that you can and will meet. I believe in you. Let’s do this.
Now that we’ve drawn to the end of our totally inspirational article, you’re probably wondering why I gave you these brain hacks instead of cute lil tips like “Buy a new diary!” or whatever.
There are two reasons: firstly because I play The Sims a lot so I see life as a game that I’m one MOTHERLODE code away from winning, and secondly because cute lil tips don’t work. They’re all part of the great new year’s scam. I’m here to break you free of that scam with straight-talking honesty, or what my mother calls “The reason why you have no friends, Talia”. You’re welcome.
This 2019 you’re going to feel like a boss because you will be a boss, because you’ll be taking advantage of your own brain chemistry, treating yourself kindly, and approaching your goals in a way that maintains motivation levels. Yeah, that’s right. You learned good stuff here, and you didn’t even know it. I’m like a lifestyle ninja. A life-ja. That’ll be the name of my new Instagram account.
Have a great 2019, guys. We’ve all earned it.