Pumpkin spice lattes are back in Starbucks. It’s official: summer is over and the year is winding down.
But before it does, you might be looking back on your year thus far only to realize that you haven’t accomplished as much as you had intended to. Fear not – there are still a few things you can do to get back in the saddle and make headway between now and the holidays.
Revisit your New Year’s resolutions and identify which ones are outstanding. Simple; re-read the resolutions you wrote out back in January and cross out the ones you’ve accomplished or have actively been working on. For the outstanding ones, ask yourself whether they’re still things you want to follow through with and make an effort to accomplish, or whether they might be something you want to put off for a later time in your life. And don’t be afraid to get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions for 2018 – whichever habits you’d like to kick-start in the new year, kick-start now. By the time January 1st rolls around, you’ll be accustomed to your new routine, which means you’ll be infinitely more likely to stick with it.
Write a list of your priorities and rank them by order of priority. Sometimes priorities change, and that’s okay. Maybe at the start of the year your goal was to move on from your current job and finding something else that you enjoyed more at a different company. But a few months into the year, you actually got promoted to a different role. Your priorities might have changed from actively job searching, to now trying to learn about your current role and becoming the best you can be at it. Depending on changing circumstances, things out of your control, and the state of your mental health (yes, don’t undermine this), your priorities might change throughout the year, so be sure to check in at least every few months to reevaluate them and make sure you’re spending time on those priorities accordingly.
Use a calendar (digital or otherwise) to maximize your time and schedule in everything, making sure to make time for your top priorities. Sometimes we get carried away doing something we enjoy and end up spending more time on it than we intended, therefore neglecting the other things we care about. If you want to reach your goals, part of the process involves a great deal of discipline and putting in the time to work towards that goal. Whether it’s learning a new skill or spending more time on something you’re already doing, make sure to block that time off in your calendar. This way, you’re more inclined to treat it like an appointment, or a class, or a meeting, which you absolutely need to go to.
Devise a game plan to help you accomplish your goals. For each vague goal yours (eg. become a DJ), write down why this goal matters to you in the grand scheme of things (eg. becoming a DJ will give me a different way into the music industry), set a weekly actionable target that will help you get closer to achieving that goal (eg. practice DJing for at least 8 hours per week), and define a measurable milestone (eg. have one DJing gig before the end of the year)
Start a bullet journal to organize all your thoughts, tasks and ideas. Bullet journaling lives at the intersection between mindfulness and productivity. We often use separate notebooks or apps for different purposes. You might use iCal to schedule your week, the Notes app to write down your grocery store list, and a physical notebook to jot down random ideas for blog posts. The bullet journal system is flexible enough in that you can compile all these different things into one single notebook. For my first bullet journal, I bought a Moleskine with a dotted grid; the dots mean it’s very flexible for different layouts, which I love. I like bullet journaling because it’s a great way to track my day-to-day activities and experiences, as well as my long-term goals. Planners/to-do lists typically only focus on what you’re doing in the future, and diaries typically focus on what you did that day. But all of these things give us the complete picture of who we are. There’s also room for you to create your own pages as you please. I’ve created a tracker page, where I track my mood, alcohol consumption, and days where I’ve eaten a plant-based diet, allowing me t0 later look back and see if I can find any correlations between these lifestyle choices and my wellbeing. There a ton of bullet journaling ideas on Pinterest and YouTube to get you started and keep you excited to maintain it!
Kick some bad habits. There are only 24 hours in the day, and sometimes we feel like we’re already busy and tired enough as is with all that we have going on in our lives. How do we fit in these added goals? Take a closer look at your day, and ask yourself where you might be “wasting time”. Are you spending the first 30mins of your day in bed, scrolling through your Instagram timeline? Are you taking 15min breaks between your tasks to see what everyone is saying on Twitter? Maybe it’s time to cut your screen time. Take those first 30mins to meditate, or read a book, or work towards one of your defined goals. You can even check out the Moment app, which helps you monitor your phone usage by telling you how much time you look at your phone daily and allowing you to set daily limits.
Update your résumé. Which new skills did you pick up this year? Which do you still need to work on? Make a concrete plan to fill in those gaps before the year ends – it’ll remind you how far you’ve come in a year, and how much more you have left to learn.
Ask yourself the hard questions you’ve been putting off. It’s all too easy to settle into a routine and let the little things slide – like our happiness, health and overall sense of wellbeing. Use this time of year as an opportunity to check in with yourself about whether or not you’re really where you want to be in life. And if not, what you could be doing to start turning things around.
Make a list of everything you’re still afraid of going into 2018. Set the list on fire. If there’s anything you don’t want to bring into the New Year with you, it’s uncertainty and fear. You may have a few apprehensions and some doubts. But you also have the power to realize that none of that has to stop you. As you draw this year to a close, let your fears for the coming year go up in flames. You won’t let them dictate your future. And your future doesn’t start with the New Year. It starts now.