Oh hello, 2014

Along with 2013, my first term as a student in Experience Institute’s inaugural year has come to an end. Back in September, our class buzzed with the kind of anticipation that you’d sense at a New Year’s celebration. We were toeing the starting line, preparing to dedicate exactly one year to chasing down our dreams.

So, much like New Year’s resolutions, my classmates and I made a list of hopes we had for the year, and then broke them down into realistic next steps (so that our excitement didn’t leave us out of breath after a mad sprint out the gates).

Of course, I’ve set goals before, but I’ve never been so intentional as to write them down and have structured check-ins with others to track my progress. I think many of us are like this – we have great intentions, but forget to equip ourselves with tools necessary to be successful.

Now that we’re still fresh in 2014 (and I’m still drafting out my hopes for the year ahead), allow me to humbly suggest some of the strategies I'm using to achieve goals set in the coming year.

Be realistic. I want to write a book this year. So, one of my goals during my first term was to reach out to authors, writers, and creatives to learn about their habits and see if I might steal and implement them into my own life.

An author I spoke with, Josh Riebock, encouraged me to set very realistic word count goals to aim for on a daily basis. In thinking about completing an entire book, I often psych myself out of taking the very small and deliberate steps of writing a little bit every day.

For me, being realistic has required lassoing a distant dream and introducing it to the reality of my everyday life.

Side note: I did, in fact, help to write a book this first term, along with my classmates. It’s not the book I still have in mind to write, but it’s a success I’m more than happy to celebrate. Sometimes goals are reached in unexpected ways. You can download it from Amazon by clicking HERE.

Document. Write down your goals.

Things take on a different degree of weightiness when they’ve been put to paper. No longer just an idea floating around in your mind, documenting what you hope to accomplish will provide a clear reference for moments when you feel like you're spinning your wheels.

Schedule checkpoints. At Ei, our term is structured by three separate 3-month terms, so those act as a natural check-in time for us to assess our progress. However, you might need more than a checkpoint every three months. I’ve found it helpful to set daily goals and weekly goals.

As I’ve run marathons in the past, I get in a rhythm of running for the mile-markers set up along the course. These indicators let me know where I’m at and how far I’ve still got to run, so I adjust my energy output accordingly.

Checkpoints let you know when to turn it up to another gear and when to slow your pace.

Side note: Checkpoints also let you know when to celebrate successes made along the way. Besides, checkpoint parties are fun and make a great excuse for eating lots of delicious food.

Be accountable. This has been a tough one for me in the past because I often maintain a mindset where I choose to be extra hard on myself so that no one else can tell me to work harder.

This is called pride, by the way.

What I’ve learned is that by humbling myself to be accountable to another person makes way for more growth and learning than would be possible on my own.

Share your goals with someone you trust – someone who will challenge you to stay the course you hope to travel.

Side note: I’ve heard of some people stating their goals publicly, either on their blogs or status updates, to create a sense of accountability. I will do this with a chosen few who read my newsletter, but do whatever works for you.

As 2014 is well underway, I’m eager to see more goals checked off of my list. I hope you find my strategies helpful to you in some way.

Happy New Year, Dane