Why do I keep working on the same goals every year?

Working on the same goals every year means that:
  • Your goals are big: they’re long-term goals and can’t be completed in one month, one year, or even two.
  • Your goals are challenging: they’re not easy and they require resources (often those are time and money) that need to be addressed.
  • Your goals are important to you: they connect you with a better version of yourself that you’d like to become in the future.
  • Your goals are interrupted: you lose sight of your goals due to major life changes, external factors including your country’s political and economic instability, personal tragedies, professional obstacles that stand in the way, or even small random things that can happen to you on any given day.
  • Your goals have not been achieved: you haven’t reached them yet, and that’s still a good thing because you still have time for them!

YES. You still have time to work on achieving your goals – and you will have time for as long as you live.

But how do you actually do this? Is it possible? Can you do something today?

The answer is YES.

Do your own personal goal audit by following these 3 steps:

Step #1. Remind yourself of the big picture.

Start by honestly asking yourself the following:

  • What are the personal goals that show up every year on every list that I make?
  • How do I feel about each goal, do I still get excited about them and do I still feel they’re important to me?
  • Are the goals that I have been working on in alignment with my future and what I want to become 5, 10 or 20 years from now?
  • What is missing from the big picture that is stopping me from achieving each goal: do I need to learn a new skill, do I have to get a college diploma, do I need to get a job so that I can finance myself to move to a different city or even country, do I need to apply myself more to make a change in my circumstances?

Step #2: Clean, rearrange, and throw out what’s old.

This is a very personal exercise, but it’s necessary in order for you to move forward. Take a look at each recurring goal and evaluate the following:

  • Is the goal something that still matters to me? If you’ve put in years’ worth of work on it and have made some progress, and the goal is still very important, keep it.
  • Is the goal something that I’m not sure about any longer? Ask yourself why it wouldn’t be. If it’s a matter of gaining a skill or devoting more time to it, consider keeping it. If you are indifferent towards it, maybe it’s time to let go of it.
  • Is the goal something I have outgrown in some way? Maybe you wanted to accomplish something you thought was a reflection of how you see yourself in the future, but then you made bigger, more important goals. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to throw out the old so that you can focus fully on the new.

Step #3. Make an actionable plan.

Starting tonight, take a few hours to write down what you want to do and what needs to happen in order for you to make progress towards achieving your goals. Start with this:

  • Write down the final list of the goals you’ve decided to keep. Make sure you believe these goals are still relevant to you and that you want to keep working on them.
  • Under each goal, write down 3 things you would need to do on a consistent basis (daily and weekly) so that you can make real progress. Be as specific as possible: if you believe you need 2 hours every Wednesday and Friday night to do so, write this down.
  • Look at your monthly schedule. Block off the times you need for getting ready in the morning, going to work or school, your commute times, and your meals. Identify all the time slots you have left, and schedule in time to work on your top goals throughout each week. You don’t need to work on each goal every single day; it’s OK to alternate as long as you use every day to make progress towards one goal. You can also focus on one goal a week. If you think you don’t have the time, start small: in the first week, you can devote only 30 minutes a day to work on one goal.
  • Evaluate your progress. After the first week, take a realistic look at the progress you’ve made. Did you devote at least 30 minutes a day to one goal? Did some activities need more time and how can you adjust your schedule to work up to 45 minutes or one hour? Was one task easier to do than you thought? What could you have done better? Make some changes to next week’s schedule to reflect the knowledge you’ve gained from this week’s experience, so that your efforts can make an even bigger impact and get you closer to your goals.

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