Earlier this month a friend of mine told me about #18for2018 – an approach that encourages setting new year’s resolutions you actually intend to keep. It’s pretty common when new year rolls around for each of us to set one or two huge and extreme goals: stop eating all chocolate, go to the gym every day etc. (they may not be extreme for everyone, but they certainly would be for me). 18 for 2018 encourages you to set 18 smaller, more manageable goals that you are committed to achieving.
I love the principle behind this idea, and it aligns blog I wrote previously on the benefits of consistent 1% improvements. This concept also reminded me of the not-so-strenuous new year’s resolutions I set myself a few years ago – which included learning how to cook veggie lasagne and to finish watching the ‘Lost’ TV box-set (both satisfyingly checked off the list now).
I love the idea of setting goals in both the positive and future focused context. Rather than deciding that you need to lose the weight gained over a few too many turkeys over Christmas, focus on what habits you want to create in the future. This could be taking up a new sport, eating more home-cooked and healthy meals, or a combination of both. I recently read and loved The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which argues that habits can be so deeply and subconsciously ingrained in us, they are impossible to simply stop – they need to be replaced with alternative, more useful habits.
One of my favourite coaches Steve Chandler recommends a no-nonsense, systematic approach to change. If you don’t like the result or output you’re creating, you need to change the system generating these results. This approach can be particularly relevant to graduate job seekers suffering the pain of the inevitable rejections that are common when trying to land an internship or graduate programme at their dream company.
Whether your new year goal is to receive an internship offer, boost your grade average from a 2:2 to a 2:1, or simply start to get to know companies better to prepare for applications next year, goal setting is important. It provides focus, structure, and encouragement to keep going – one step at a time – even when rejections and disappointments come our way.
Here are my top 5 tips for setting effective and long-lasting goals for 2018:
1. Keep them positive and future focused – Focus on what you want to do, create, start and continue. If you want to stop something, think about what you can replace the habit with. Try (where possible) to make the goals fun and achievable.
2. Reflect on your why – Think about the motivation behind your goals, and only set goals you are committed to keeping.
3. Create accountability – Share your goals with a coach, a friend, or a colleague. Find others who have set similar goals for 2018 and to offer each other encouragement.
4. Be specific and write it down – One of my favourite statistics is that we’re 42% more likely to do stuff that we write down. This makes sense – just as you’d write a shopping list before you go to the shop, write down your goals to remind yourself of your commitments.
5. Break into smaller goals – If you have a big ambitious goal for 2018, break it down into smaller, mini goals. I would argue the smaller the better. Set specific targets for milestones throughout the year to keep you engaged and committed.
And finally… remember goals don’t have to be all or nothing. If you aren’t happy with progress towards your goals, start again. Try and view each separate day as an opportunity to make change happen, and don’t use past behaviour to set your future expectations
Hannah Salton worked in corporate graduate recruitment for 8 years before becoming a career coach and consultant. She is passionate about enabling people to achieve their career goals in the hope that they will love their career as much as she does.