This might be an unpopular opinion, but January is actually our favorite month of the year. It’s an arbitrary clean slate, a time to believe and dream again, and an opportunity to clean up all the messes we made in 2017 (particularly involving our health). Considering all this, and the rare strength and clarity of purpose that comes along January 2, we think it’s important to utilize the month to optimize the entire year. Here, seven things all successful women will be doing in early 2018.
1. Identify Key Big-Picture Goals
You don’t have to have goals in every area of your life—relationships, money, career, family, etcetera; instead, focus on whatever buckets you feel most compelled to improve or change. Be specific and prioritize, as the idea is to execute against these goals. Don’t forget to consider less obvious categories like health and charity. If you aren’t sure what your goals are for the new year, consider creating a vision board, either IRL or on Pinterest. Make sure at least one of the big-ticket items on this list is something that terrifies you—if you accomplish little else in 2018, doing this one thing will make you feel like the year mattered.
2. Break Down Each Goal into Smaller Goals
Aiming to save up to buy a house is a great goal; however, it’s also overwhelming and vague. Figure out what smaller goals could feed into this goal—in this example, it would be to pay off your credit card debt or take on a side hustle that will bring in extra income.
3. Plot These Smaller Goals into Your Calendar
Now that you have your smaller goal—e.g. “earn $10,000 in extra income”—plot this into the calendar. How much can you realistically aim to take in each month? Set regular calendar appointments to keep you on track. If your goal is relationship-based—e.g. meeting someone new—set regular date appointments into your calendar and Bumble your way into them. These appointments will keep you accountable as the year’s many demands threaten to overwhelm your resolutions.
4. Evaluate What Didn’t Work in 2017
If the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, we think it’s wise to start the new year by identifying what didn’t work for you in 2017 so you can avoid it in 2018. Did a specific friendship cause you innumerable headaches? Cut it. Can you see an unhealthy pattern in your dating life? Resolve to change it. Did you complain about your job daily? It’s time to find a new one. Even looking at smaller things, like a resolution to go to the gym every day that didn’t work out, are worth evaluating—maybe this year, your goal is instead to find a class you like, trying one new workout per week until you’ve settled on something that actually incentivizes you.
5. Picture One Person You Want to Prove Yourself to
Let’s face it—hard work is, well, hard work. It can be difficult to motivate ourselves to go above and beyond our mandatory workload to achieve our bigger life goals. This is why it can be helpful, childish though it may seem, to identify one person you feel (justly or not) doesn’t believe in you. Having this person in mind will be helpful on days you don’t feel like motivating—you can call up their naysaying as the fuel to your fire.
6. Make a Networking List
Whether you’re interested in quietly pursuing a different career path or would like to keep advancing in your current field, investing in your network is critical. Make a plan in January to meet with a certain number of individuals each month of the year who may help, advise or inspire your 2018 path. Reach out and schedule an initial round of meetings, and set reminders each month to schedule the following month’s touch bases.
7. Wake Up One Hour Earlier Than You Did Last Year
For whatever reason, we often have the fortitude to follow through on big, hard changes like this in January more so than in any other month. Resolve to wake up an hour earlier starting January 2 to set the tone for the rest of the year. Then, use that found hour toward your goals, to work out or even just to meditate. The new habit may not stick throughout the entire year, but you may be surprised how much better the extra hour makes you feel and wonder how you ever survived without it.