12 Mini Goals To Rock Your Year
Are you wanting this year to be better than the last one? Usually around this time of year, we begin to reflect on our lives and find reasons that inspire change. We hope this blog will help you make 2022 a kickass year!
Transitions Can Be Tough
The transition into a new year can bring about different emotions, from excitement to reflection and even anxiety. These moments can be helpful for goal setting, reflecting on life and taking an honest view of the status of things.
For most of us, 2021 was a year unlike any other. It was a year full of uncertainty, necessitating the need to make fast and often impactful decisions without knowing a great deal of what the future might hold. As a consequence, we may have struggled often with feelings of anxiety, stress, fear and sadness.
2021 was also a year wherein we proved to ourselves that we can do difficult things. We experienced a great deal of personal growth as a result of perseverance spurred by a global health crisis. Now for 2022, you should ask yourself: what would make this year a great year for me? Ideally, you would aim for a year that would see you through to some triumphs and make your life feel as complete as possible.
Most of us want to have strong connections with our loved ones. We want to be engaged and succeed in our careers. We want to experience purpose and make a difference in our world. In essence, we want to live a deeply fulfilling existence.
How Can We Better Handle Transitions?
We all start the year with great intentions and with a slew of to-do lists to create a successful year ahead. However, typically, by mid-February, we lose sight of what we were trying to accomplish.
How can we overcome the daunting “work” of transforming the new year? We have broken it down into 12 mini goals with exercises that you can work through during the month to achieve a year of personal growth.
1. Find The Joy In Your Life
Start with something fun. Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. What does that mean for you? Who do you think of when you think of joy?
Spend some time this month reflecting on what joy is for you and how it shows up in your life. Then, try to plan 1 to 2 joy-based activities for yourself for this month (bonus points if you can put your phone away while you are doing it).
Here are some things that bring Psych Company therapists joy:
- Cuddling and playing with our pets and/or children
- Steamy baths
- Sharing meals
- Exercise (eg. dancing, morning runs, bike rides)
- Being outside (eg. exploring a park, appreciating nature, hiking)
- Being kind (eg. giving to others, appreciating people)
- Organizing our lives (beautifying our home, task lists, etc)
- Alone time, or, conversely, time with others
- Coffee (or tea) breaks
Reflect on what you did and how it made you feel.
Journaling can be a great way to make meaning out of what you are experiencing in your day-to-day life. Don’t forget to write out your own joy list for future reference. This will come in handy especially during the (sigh) winter blues.
2. Work On Your Relationships
Our relationships are at the root of everything that we do. Having meaningful relationships with our family and friends offers us the support and care that we need to move through difficult things and celebrate milestones.
What can we do to transform our relationships this year?
Work On Your Listening
Listening is an important skill that most of us can work on. This month, focus on doing the following 3 things when you are communicating with your loved ones.
Remove distraction. It is a good practice to put your phone away and turn off any notifications. Listening with care is important for the person who is with you. It indicates that you care about what they are saying and how they feel.
Focus on what they are saying and not what you are thinking of saying back to them. It is important to just listen. Suspend your judgement and embrace being quiet. You will find that you will learn more about the other person who is speaking.
Reflect back what you are hearing. You might repeat what they have said. Paraphrasing allows the other person to know that you are listening to them and that you are both on the same page.
For more on building relationships, take a look at our post on how to build and improve your relationships.
3. Take Calculated Risks
It takes courage to make changes, to try new things and to stand up for ourselves. Taking risks is a great way to transform your life. As Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see.”
This month, work on reducing procrastination. It can be a challenging habit to break since many of us lean into procrastination when we are feeling fatigued, scared or simply don’t know how to start.
Use the following tools to start and finish tasks that you normally don’t complete.
- Start with writing a list and, next, number the list based on priority.
- Allocate a timeline.
- Create accountability by having a loved one participate.
For more on fighting procrastination, check out our post on how to crush procrastination.
4. Learn Something New
This is fun. As spring approaches, we naturally become a little bit more willing to step out of our comfort zone.
This month, pick something that you have been longing to learn, but haven’t found the time or courage to tackle. Use the following way of thinking to help you move through this new adventure:
- Accept you are going to make mistakes and don’t let missteps keep you from continuing.
- Challenge your thinking about what you can’t do. Do you want to learn to do woodworking or learn to speak another language but have always felt discouraged because you have told yourself that you can’t do it? Challenge that thinking by asking yourself, “why can’t I?”
- Use a journal or photograph your process. It helps to feel motivated when you have proof of all that you have already done.
5. Become Aware Of The Negative Thinking Cycle
This is a very useful skill that will assist you in overcoming major psychological hurdles. We all have a self-directed narrative that can often be quite negative. While we cannot stop it permanently from affecting us, we can be mindful of it and be ready to address it when it surfaces.
This month focus on doing the following exercises to tame the negative thinking cycle.
- Notice negative thinking and question your thoughts.
- Use the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique to connect with the present moment.
- Incorporate journaling into your weekly routine to relieve any negative thoughts.
At the end of the month, ask yourself how you feel. Was it difficult to notice your thinking? Were you surprised by how often your thoughts got away? How did your thinking affect your body and actions?
Now that you have been able to do this for a month, try to continue this work. Your health will thank you.
6. Work On How You See Yourself
Having a positive and authentic self-image is an important ingredient in having a good life. This month, work on taking care of your self-image and increasing your sense of self-worth.
Focus on how your feelings align with your actions. How often do you say “yes” when you mean “no”? Or, how often do you allow yourself to be belittled by colleagues or superiors in your work setting while remaining quiet? Focus on doing the following 3 exercises and check in with yourself at the end of the month.
Create boundaries. Spend this month being honest with what you need. Say “no” when you mean it. Create a notification to let your team and manager (getting prior approval first of course) know when you are away and are not reachable. Take a moment to not be available.
Name your feelings. We spend a lot of time avoiding our feelings and situations of conflict. It appears easier to avoid what feels uncomfortable, but it is not healthy to do so in the long run. If you have a difficult conversation, stay calm, be kind and be honest.
Accept you are not always going to be liked. This can be difficult, but it’s important. Your opinions and needs may not always be met with approval, but there is no shame in owning your beliefs even if they do not always coincide with the beliefs of others. You can, however, minimize any negative backlash by being tactful and respectful while still mindful of sharing your honest needs and opinions with the people around you.
Was this a difficult month? Did you have to handle conflict? How did it affect your thinking? Did it give you anxiety?
If this was a difficult month, you can reach for tools that support your mental health like breathing exercises, such as the 5,4,3,2,1, senses technique. Give yourself a pat on the back. It takes courage to make change.
7. Celebrate Your Success
It is important that we enjoy our successes and celebrate all the wins in our lives no matter how minor. We tend to focus on the negative aspects of our lives and end up missing the great things in our day to day living. This month try the following exercises.
Reflect in the evening. Reflect on one thing that went well and that you can feel good about. It could be a bonding conversation with a child or a well-received presentation. Write this event down. You can do so in a small note or a large journal entry depending on how you are feeling.
Savour the moment. When something positive happens, don’t overlook it. Pause what you are doing, immerse yourself in the feeling and reflect on what happened. Relive the experience and tell yourself: “That went really well. That was a success.”
Share with your family. When you reconnect with your loved ones, tell them about the success and how it made you feel. Sharing positive stories extends the life of the moment.
How did this month make you feel? Did it bring you any special insight into your life? Specifically, did this month draw you closer towards noticing how positive things can be found every day?
8. Get Comfortable With Uncertainty
Change is the one thing we can be certain about. This is the case whether we are considering work or our personal lives. So, the million-dollar question is, “How do we get comfortable with change?” The key is that we must learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
For this month, try these 2 exercises and reflect on how they made you think about change and how you view your life.
Make a list. Make a list of all the things that you would like to change, but feel scared to change. Then, write down the worst-case scenario. Now, write down the best-case scenario. Seeing things on paper can offer some insight.
Pick one thing to change. Pick one thing from your list that you want to change and make a plan to change it. You can break it up into small steps on a list and give it a timeline. Share this action item with a friend to keep you accountable and get you started.
9. Make Time For Yourself
This one is a fun one. We should all make more time for ourselves to reflect, play, read, walk and sleep. This month, focus on you. Try this exercise this month and try to keep a journal either by making notes or taking pictures.
- Create a list of all the things that you enjoy doing, miss doing and want to be doing.
- Make a plan to incorporate 1 of these things into your day. Whether it is reading your favourite book, playing video games, going for a walk, listening to music, or working out, ensure that you accomplish at least one of these activities every day.
- Take a day in the week to do an activity from your list, whether it’s getting takeout food, going to the art gallery or heading to the lake. You decide.
Now how was that? Did you feel guilty at first for thinking so much about what you like to do? Did you appreciate the time that you offered yourself?
Reconnecting with ourselves helps us feel more confident, independent, and happy.
10. Don’t Get Stuck In What You Are Lacking
We all have areas that we can improve, but that shouldn’t inspire resignation. This month, push yourself past your shortcomings.
Try the following exercise once each week and track your progress. At the end of the month, reflect on how you felt and how you grew.
This exercising involves doing 1 thing that you think you are not good at or have never tried before because you think you won’t be good at it.
Try to have fun with this one, you can even share your experience. You might be surprised by having others join in.
11. Explore your purpose
When was the last time that you asked yourself whether what you are doing is inline with your values? This can be tricky, but it is an important question to ask yourself when you are working towards self fulfillment.
This month, a quick exercise to assist you in finding meaningfulness in your life involves making a “brain map” by posing and considering the following questions.
- Do your values and lifestyle align?
- Are you resentful about your work or about your work mates?
- Do you have long term goals?
Look at your answers and see if there are any areas that you can work on to adjust your current situation to better align with your goals.
12. Practice Gratitude
When we wind up the year, we realize that there actually is much to be grateful for. Gratitude helps us fight off depression, anxiety and stress. Gratitude promotes good sleep, emotional regulation and fosters hope for the future.
Try these 3 exercises this month. We believe they will facilitate appreciation by reminding you of what you have achieved and encouraging you to celebrate those successes.
Incorporate your family, room mates or work mates into this activity. Ask your group to share 1 thing that they are grateful for, write it down and pop it into a glass jar. Watching the jar fill up as a visual reminder of all the things to be grateful for makes the items more “real” to all of you.
Create a gratitude experience. Can you donate to a local food bank? Or help a neighbour shovel their walk? Doing things for others creates that organic feeling of caring and compassion that fuels gratitude.
Invest in positive people. Spend more time with the people in your life willing to share their experiences with you, who laugh with you and who truly support you. These special people will foster the feeling of gratitude in your day to day life and help you recognize your blessings on a more regular basis.
How did these exercises leave you feeling? Gratitude done consistently for 2 weeks improves a person’s sleep and their general well-being. Do you notice the change?
Don’t Give Up!
Trying to make the most of your life can be tough work – make sure you aren’t too hard on yourself and try to set realistic expectations based on your lifestyle and responsibilities. Hopefully you enjoyed participating in our 12 exercises. We feel confident that if you revisit these exercises and make them a part of your regular routine, you will have a rocking year. Let’s just say, you worked hard on and will continue to work hard at achieving some monumental challenges. Be proud of yourself for the tremendous work!