Life Well Lived: The right way to achieve your goals in 2018


By Lauren Fisher

With the start of the New Year, it is natural to pause and reflect on both our experiences of the past year and our personal desires for the future. Sometimes we forget to pause and skip the moment in favor of keeping up with the forward-focused fast pace of D.C. life.

Living in a generally fast-paced area, it can be easy to skip the reflection and tempting to attribute global labels of “good” or “bad” to the year of 2017.

However, this generally fails to adequately capture the breadth and richness of our diverse personal experiences. Even with reflection, our innate negativity bias pushes us more toward identifying the unpleasant experiences or focusing on what we did not do or what we believe we should have done. In the New Year, I urge you to reflect upon your year with these questions: 1) What went well for you this past year? What new experiences or knowledge did you acquire? 2) What new skills or knowledge did you acquire? What did you learn about yourself through both your best moments and your struggles? 3) When did you feel most alive this past year? Who or what contributed to feelings of joy and happiness?

One thing for sure is that we are not the same person that we were one year ago.
If we begin to accept that everything is constantly changing, we can start to celebrate the idea of change.

It’s amazing when you just think about it — we have the opportunity to focus on creating the self we wish to be at every moment. It’s possible for us to be, and feel, different today than we were and felt yesterday. Being unhappy today doesn’t mean we’ll be unhappy forever.

As you contemplate your vision for 2018, consider these tips to enhance your personal growth in the new year:

Clarify your vision

What are you wishing for? What elements of your health and well-being do you want to improve?

Explore your why

What are the benefits of making that change now? What is the driving force behind that change? How would life be different if you achieved this?

Narrow your focus
What part of your vision is most important to you at this time? What are you most excited to start working on? What would you like to achieve in the next three months, in the next six months?

Prepare for success

What strategies and structures (people, resources, systems, and environments) are needed to help you navigate challenges to ensure your success?

Choose SMART goals

Select three-month goals and then weekly goals that help you move toward your overall vision. Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time based. The key here is setting realistic goals. Achievement inspires us and motivates us to keep moving forward.

Adopt a growth mindset

A growth mindset values the process of learning, views challenges as opportunities and the belief that one’s love of learning and resilience is fundamental to reaching goals. Carol Dweck’s research shows that people who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to be successful in reaching goals.

Be your best coach

If you are not going to believe in yourself, who will? Remember that it is okay to be a beginner again; it’s like learning to ride a bicycle. Compassion and encouragement will help you keep getting on the bicycle until you achieve that smooth, effortless ride.

While January tends to be a popular time for vision and goal setting, this process can occur at any time. Best to you for an upcoming year.