New decade, new goals

It’s January 2020. A new year. A new decade. A new start. You’ve been thinking about your goals for the year, but you just can’t seem to nail them down. Or describe them. Or focus. In fact, you don’t really even know where to start.

I have good news for you! There are a variety of ways to set attainable goals for this year that can help give you the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment you get when you finish something. A little planning goes a long way, so grab your pencil, and maybe some coffee, and let’s get started.

Fitness goals

When choosing a goal for yourself, don’t say, “I want to look like this,” as you show your personal trainer a photo of someone else. Your goal should not be based on someone else. Pick a fitness goal, not an appearance-related goal. Better yet, pick a series of goals. If you want to run a marathon, start with running around the block several days in one week. Then increase the distance the next week. Build up your body as you knock down each goal, and you will eventually get to that marathon.

If you recruit a workout buddy, your odds of achieving your fitness goals may also increase. Once you are accountable to someone else, you will likely be more diligent in your workouts.

If you have a WPS Health Insurance health plan, remember that there are programs available to help you hit the gym for less.

Financial goals

Who doesn’t want more money in the bank? Forbes offers some ways to save.

Set up autopay through your workplace’s payroll department to save 15% of your income for your retirement. Or maybe you prefer to set a dollar amount. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you can put up to $19,500 in a 401(k) for 2020. Set that dollar amount and use automatic payroll deduction to save it before you can spend it.

Start an emergency account. You never know when unexpected home repairs, car repairs, appliance replacements, or other large expenses will hit. You could save 10% of your income or set aside a fixed dollar amount that makes sense for you. Again, pick a number and stick to it for the best results.

Pay off debt. Famous financial consultant Dave Ramsey suggests changing how you engage with money. Don’t keep doing the same things and making the same payments. Make a budget, tweak it as necessary, and see how you can save when you start telling every single dollar where to go. When your budget is in place, you can start attacking your debt using the snowball method. You can also check out nerdwallet.com for more ideas on how to pay down your debt, including the debt avalanche, which differs in approach from the debt snowball method.

Activity goals

Want to read more books? Want to volunteer? Want to try a new hobby or learn a new skill? Pick what you want to try and set goals around that activity. Choose a number of books, research a volunteer-driven organization, check out sewing or calligraphy or whichever skill catches your attention. Get started now so you can make progress and hold yourself accountable using a calendar with deadlines written on it.

How to set goals

Go4Life, a National Institute on Aging campaign, recommends that you write down your short-term and long-term goals. Monitor your progress and celebrate your successes. After a few weeks, revisit your goals to check your progress.

Try to stay focused on only a few goals. If you choose too many, your progress on each of them may be diminished. Make your goals specific: “Next Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I will go to the gym for at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at 5 p.m.” By simply stating when, where, and how you’re going to achieve your goal, you are two to three times as likely to actually do it.

To set up your goals more effectively, you can use the SMART method, or the SMARTER method, or even the new WOOP method to define your goals. Each method helps you flesh out your goals to make them more real and more manageable.

If you have setbacks, don’t let them stop you. Push through. Work to get back on track. Adjust your deadlines, if needed. But keep going. Be persistent, be relentless, and your odds of success increase tremendously. If you’re still pondering which goals you want to tackle this year, Good Housekeeping has a gallery of 45 achievable resolutions that might spark some ideas to help you get started.

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