The problem with New Year’s Resolutions, is that they are often broad, wishful statements as opposed to measurable goals – with ‘losing weight’ and ‘drinking less’ being among the most common. When giving yourself a whole year to achieve or change something, there’s a high chance it’s going to get forgotten about pretty soon. Instead, we should all be applying the SMART goal methodology to our personal and career development.
Goal #1: Wake up 1 hour earlier and use it wisely
If you’re not a morning person, this might sound like your worst nightmare. However, anyone can adjust their sleeping pattern by 1 hour if they put their mind to it.
The reason this goal is a good one for your self-improvement, is that you can achieve a lot in a quiet early morning hour. Rather than rolling out of bed and diving immediately, bleary-eyed into your day, you gain a bit of extra time to yourself to focus on something that will make you feel good and fulfilled. This early bird activity can be different for everyone depending on your hobbies and interests, but here are some ideas of things you can do in less than hour that are good for your wellbeing and productivity:
- Go for a run or walk
- Stretch your body
- Meditate or practice mindfulness
- Read a few chapters of a book
- Write down your thoughts in a journal
- Tidy your room / workspace
- Treat yourself to a nice home cooked breakfast
- Do a chore you’ve been putting off
- Plan your focuses and goals for the day
- Listen to TED Talks or podcasts
- Practice a foreign language
- Work on a creative passion project
Whatever you choose, commit to it every day for 1 month and you won’t look back – this is a goal that will very quickly become a habit.
Goal #2: Start journaling daily
This is a great personal development goal for 2021. Journaling helps improve our self-awareness, productivity, and can even reduce stress and anxiety. As we formulate our jumbled thoughts into words, we rationalise and understand them. Journaling doesn’t just need to be an account of your day-to-day, but a place to reflect and document your thoughts and experiences.
It’s up to you which areas of your life you focus on in your journal, but here are some journalling exercises and ideas to get started:
Every day, write down:
- Your goals for the day
- Things you’re grateful for
- Things that made you happy that day
- Things that made you stressed that day
- Your personal achievements / things you’re proud of
- A challenge you’re facing
- An account of your dream last night (if you can remember!)
As you start to journal, you’ll quickly realise what is and isn’t beneficial to you, and fine-tune the exercise. It can take as little as 10 minutes out of your day to do, so set a daily reminder on your phone and get started.
Goal #3: Begin a new hobby (or pick an old one back up)
Many of us are guilty of letting our hobbies slide, declaring each year we’ll “get back into painting” or “take piano lessons”. These creative or athletic pursuits naturally fall by the wayside in our busy work and social lives.
But hobbies are something we should not be neglecting. Having hobbies can significantly reduce stress by taking our minds off things, as well as increase happiness and fulfilment. Not to mention, learning a new skill and seeing yourself improve is incredibly rewarding.
So 2021 is the year to actually do it. On average, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become a habit, which immediately gives you a realistic and practical time-frame to work towards.
It’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Choose something you’ve always been interested in – particularly if you have friends who already do it as you can combine it with socialising – and take the plunge!
Start with these three personal growth goals for 2021.