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Ditch the New Year’s resolutions and journal your way to long-term success

For most of us, December is a mad rush to the finish line, and by finish line we mean the hard-earned rest after all the Christmas gifts have been opened, the crackers have been cracked, the bellies have been filled to bursting and the washing-up’s been done.  

But once the yule tide’s over, and we finally reach that eerily quiet week between Boxing Day and New Years, it’ll be time to grab yourjournal, take stock of the year that was and make plans for a better brighter new year. 

Now you’re probably thinking, ‘Oh please, not another article about New Year’s resolutions!’ 

Fortunately, you’re in for a treat. Because unlike certain inescapable festive season favourites, we won’t be banging on the same old drum. Pa-rum-pa— Um, yeah, no.

In fact, we’re going to forget about resolutions entirely. After all, they’reso last year! 

Instead, when you finally reach those blissful last days of December, you’ll be taking a new and exciting approach to planning your year. 

Here’s how.

Journaling in Notely notebook on a picnic rug

Start with gratitude

How many times have you gotten to the end of the year feeling, “Phew! I’m so glad that’s finally over. Bring on next year, it has to be better than this one, right?”

We’ve all been there, especially over the tough times we’ve experienced in the past three years.

Let’s end this year differently by focussing on the good things that 2022 brought your way. It may be difficult, but take your time and jot down the things you’re grateful for. If you were fortunate enough to reach Wham-halla this year, you could start there.

Of course, this exercise will be a lot easier if you’ve kept a gratitudejournal throughout the year, in which case, this is the perfect time to take it out and revisit your entries. Make a list of your highlights for the year.

In addition to the things you’re grateful for, you could also add in some of the goals or milestones you managed to achieve this year. Did you celebrate those? If not, take a moment to revel in the glory of your successes. Write these down in yourjournal too.

Take a long term approach to 2023

Having reviewed your goals from last year, and celebrated your successes, it’s time to make plans for 2023. And this is where it gets exciting.

Remember how, in the past you’d make all these resolutions, and by February they’d be forgotten? Then you get to the end of the year and nothing’s changed so you make them all over again, promising yourself that this year’s going to be different?  

Well, this year IS going to be different because you’re taking a completely different tack. Instead of focussing on the short term, you’re going to use yourjournal to find out what’s REALLY important to you – beyond the everyday grind. And then you’re going to map out a clear path that will lead you to success.

So, grab yournotebook and journaland let’s get cracking.

Find out what’sreally important to you

For this exercise, it’s important to think long-term. This means going beyond the things we know we “should do” (which, if we’re honest, are the things that usually fill our New Year’s Resolutions lists) and focus on the things we long to do.

Journaling in Notely notebook featuring Anna Manolatos design

Start by brainstorming (i.e. write down without censoring your thoughts) all the things you love and are passionate about.

1. What are you curious, passionate, excited about? 
    • What really lights you up?
    • What would you like to know more about?
    • Include ideas, topics or issues that you’ve always wondered about, as well as any new notions that have just popped up. 
    • Take your time and write down everything that comes to mind.
    2. If you can’t think of anything, try thinking about:
      • the things you do (or would like to do) in your spare time. 
      • the books you enjoy reading (or those in your “to-be-read” pile). 
      • the activities or events that you enjoy.

      Jot them all down as well as any ideas that they spark about things you’d like to do more of next year.

      3. In an ideal world, what dreams would you chase? 
      • Try going beyond the run-of-the-mill goals you set every year.
      • If you could do or be anything, what would it be?
      • Don’t be afraid to go large.
      • Dig deep and uncover those big (and possibly a little scary) goals you long to achieve, but which keep getting pushed aside by self doubt and the pressures of everyday life.
      • Don’t worry about whether these things are practical, or whether they’ll work or not. Just write them down.
      4. Once you have written down everything you can think of, try to arrange these thoughts in order from most important to least important to you
        • Be honest and don’t worry about what other people might think about how you prioritise these things. 

        Flicking pages of a Notely Notebook on a picnic rug in the park

        Find the time to focus on what’s really important to you

        Knowing what we love and long to do is a great starting point, but we need to follow up on this by purposefully finding and allocating time to pursue those long-term goals. 

        The key questions to ask here are: 

        1. What is the daily thing(s) I can do that will get me closer to my long-term goal(s)? 
        2. How much time do I need to set aside each day to ensure that gets done?

        Write down your answers to these questions in yourjournal ornotebook.

        Close up of writing yearly reflections in Notely notebook

        Find out where you’ve been spending your time

        The world never stops offering up a constant stream of distractions and pressures that take our focus off the things that are truly important to us. This is one of the biggest reasons why so many people live unfulfilled lives – it’s too easy to get caught up chasing short-term goals, and letting them crowd out our long-term dreams. 

        If you’re ready to get off the hamster wheel and start taking charge of where your life is headed in 2023, it’s time to take a long hard look at how you spend your time.

        Once you know where your time is spent, it should be a lot easier to find time to focus on your long-term goals in the new year. 

        For this exercise, it’s a great idea to grab your 2022wall planner or yourjournal from the past 12 months.

        1. Take a look at the things that filled your days. 
        2. Can you divide them into categories?
        3. Try to arrange these categories from most to least importantto you
        4. Is there any overlap or commonality between this list and the lists you made in the brainstorming session (especially those you ranked in your top three)? 
          • In other words, have you spent any time on the things you love? 
          • How about the things you need to do to achieve your big scary goals? 
          • How have you been tracking with those?

        Don’t stress if there wasn’t much or any time allocated for these things. This is something virtually everyone struggles with. We’re going to work on that next.

        Find out whether you should be spending your time on certain tasks?

        In doing this exercise, you might come across tasks that you thought were important, but, in the light of your long-term thinking, now seem less so. 

        If you’re unsure of whether or not a task is worthy of your time, try to answer the following prickly questions about the task or project:

        • Why am I doing this?
        • What is the value of this?
        • What is the time commitment required?
        • Should I be doing this at all?
        • Can I delegate this to someone else, or stop doing it altogether?
        • If I could make a fresh start from today, would I still choose to spend time on this?

        Ouch! Yes, this process can be confronting, but be patient and honest and try to work through the discomfort, but… 

        Don’t beat yourself up for having spent time on things that were less important. Instead see this as an opportunity to identify tasks that can be delegated or dropped entirely from your schedule. 

        When you’re done, you’ll have opened up some time to focus on the things that really matter to you, which means you’re more likely to actually achieve your long term goals. #winning

        Notely notebook featuring cover artwork by Anna Manolatos

        Find strategies to spend time on what truly matters

        You’ve analysed the tasks you usually spend time on and identified the tasks and projects that are truly important to you. 

        Now, take a moment to brainstorm some strategies that you could use to:

        • maximise time spent on the things that are most important to you 
        • minimise time spent on less important things. Jot them down in yournotebook orjournal.

        Here are a 9 ways you can sharpen your focus and maximise your success

        1. Prioritise all tasks against the list of things that are important to you. 

        2. For each task that comes your way, ask yourself:

          • Does this project, task or opportunity align with my long term goals?
          • Will doing this get me closer to my goal?
          • Will doing this take up time that I could be spending on activities that will get me closer to my goal?
          3. Know when to say no. Before saying yes to any opportunity, take out your journal and try to answer the following questions:
          • How much commitment will this require?
          • What will the total cost be in terms of time and energy?
          • What will the emotional investment be?
          • What will the value or return on investment be? 
          • Will it be worth the cost?
          • Will this take up time that I should be spending on getting closer to my long term goals?
          • How will I feel 12 months from now, if I don’t do this?
          4. Be proactive in your planning. Try to come up with strategies for dealing with times when you don’t feel like following through on your commitment to your long term goals.
            • Remind yourself of why you’re chasing this dream. Write down your reasons.
            • Find out how long this took for others to achieve. Write that down as a reminder not to rush things.
            • Talk to your mentors. Write down their advice.
            • Search for inspirational or motivational quotes and put those in yourjournal to inspire you.

            5. Make sure your goals are SMART (i.e., specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based).

            6. Break your goals down into smaller mini-goals, set milestones and give yourself a deadline for achieving your goals.

            7. Try to brainstorm a variety of pathways to achieving your goals, so you can change tactics if circumstances change.

            8. As you work towards your goals, keep on journaling. Use yourjournal to record your progress, the obstacles you’ve faced along the way and the strategies you use to overcome them.

            9. Review your progress and celebrate your successes regularly 

              • Start right now by writing down at least three ways you’ve progressed in your career or in your life over the past year. Celebrate the hard work and effort that got you there.
              • Set up review dates in your 2023wall plannerwhen you will review and celebrate your progress (these dates should align with your milestones and mini-goals).
              • On your review dates, take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Reaffirm your commitment to your goals or set new ones if you discover that the goals you’ve been chasing no longer serve you.
              • Grab your journaland make a list of rewards that you can unlock as you achieve your milestones.

              Relaxing and journaling in the park for end of year reflections

              Don’t forget to set aside some time to rest and recharge

              While you’re planning and preparing for 2023, don’t forget to build time for rest and relaxation into your schedule. If you’re going to chase big goals, you’re going to need to recharge regularly. 

              The same goes for the remainder of 2022. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the festive season,do take some time to relax and enjoy the holidays. 

              Ready to smash some goals in 2023?

              If so, grab a 2023wall planner, pick up aNotely journal ornotebook, and pen, and get ready to make next year the best ever. 

              And, if you’re still looking for that perfect Christmas present, ourjournals,wall planners,cards, andnotebooks make great gifts, and when you shop at ouronline store, there’s no need to fight for parking and no chance of getting Wham-bombed or Carey’d.

              Whatsmore, with every Notely product you purchase, you’ll enjoy the added feel-good factor that comes from helping us to give backby replanting the planet, one note at a time.