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This Time Next Year

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Have a Great 2021 by Thinking About 2022

The key to reaching your goals this year is thinking about next year 

Keeping your New Year's Resolution isn't always the easiest, we get it. But if the last nine months are any indication, we're all in for a fresh start. We’re all at the beginning of a fresh start. And with 360-some days ahead of us, it seems like we have plenty of time to achieve everything we hope to for the year.

But then the thing that always happens…well, it happens. Life pulls us in other directions. New goals pop up. Old goals go on the back burner. We get distracted. We get back on track. Then before we know it, it’s January 1 again.

Part of the reason we never seem to make quite as much progress as we’d like is because our thinking is too short term. We make our plans for the days and weeks ahead of us, when what we really should be thinking about is where we want to be next year.

See Your Goals 

To make real progress, you have to know what you want your final destination to be. Just trying to get through the day or the week with only a vague sense of what it all will add up to is like trying to follow directions without knowing where you’re driving to. You can do it. It’s just easy to get lost that way.

But even knowing what your final destination is sometimes isn’t enough to stay focused on it. You have to really believe that it’s real. To do that, experts recommend you visualize your goal.

Right now it’s the beginning of 2021. Let’s say that your goal for this year is to have a 3.6 GPA and land a great internship.

The first thing you’ll want to do is write down your goal. The second thing you’ll want to do is write down what you think your life will look like in one year, when you’ve achieved that goal.

What will your life look like when you’ve got a 3.6 GPA? Will your classmates and instructors treat you differently, and if so, how? Where will you go for your internship? Who will you meet? What will you have for lunch while you’re working there?

They may not seem that important in and of themselves, but details like the size of a new office, or how heavy an award feels in our hand, are what make us fall in love with a goal and keep us moving forward.

Take some time. Close your eyes. Dream the details.

Once you’ve got your goal to a place where you can feel it, then make sure to remind yourself of it every day.

That can mean writing down “3.6 GPA” in your notebook before every class. Or it can mean looking at a sleek office building as you pass it and thinking, “That’s where I’m going to do my internship.”

It doesn’t matter how you visualize your future success every day; it only matters that you do visualize it.

Take Small Steps to Take a Big Step 

Once you can really see your goal for next year, then comes the work of achieving it.

If visualization is all about having a big goal, making progress is all about breaking that big goal into as many small pieces as you can.

What do you need to do to get a 3.6 GPA? Well, the first step might be that you have to get at least a B+ on all your midterms and finals. (No small step, by the way.) Keep breaking the tasks down. What do you have to do to get a B+ on all your tests? Maybe you have to study at least an hour a day per class. Keep breaking it down until you know what you need to do every day of 2021 in order to reach your goal.

Once you’ve figured out all the small steps you need to take, put them all on a calendar or a timeline. Every time you complete one of the smaller steps – say, every time you study an hour a day per class – cross that step off and enjoy the dopamine rush it gives you.

Write Everything in Pencil

A year is a long time. No matter how good your plans are, things will change. You might want to change your major mid-year, for example, and that will affect your goals.

When change happens, rework your plan. Revisualize where you want to be in early 2022. Maybe a 3.6 GPA and an internship still make sense. Maybe they don’t. If you need a new goal, just redo the process: Visualize your success, believe in it, then break it down into everyday steps and keep moving.

Because no matter what happens, you’re going to wake up a year from today, and you’re going to think, “Wow, that went fast.” But if you’ve kept your eye on your goals the whole time, you’ll also be thinking, “Wow, I accomplished so much.”


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