A new year always feels like a fresh start and it’s a great opportunity to take stock of where you are at and review your life goals for the next six or 12 months. Refreshed from a summer break, we sat down to think about how we were going to go about this for 2023 and thought we would share our ideas with you. In this first part we look at the basics of setting goals.
How to set goals and achieve them
Set goals, not resolutions. Goals tend to be more specific and action-orientated than resolutions which makes it easier to make a plan to achieve them.
Make sure your goals are specific and measurable – rather than setting a goal to “exercise more”, commit to exercising for 40 minutes, four times a week.
Look at all the different areas of your life including wellbeing, home and family and work and finances. Consider picking one or two goals from each category. It’s probably unrealistic to try to focus on more than five goals at one time and you might want to start with just two or three.
Make your goals achievable - start with small goals and break them down into steps if necessary. Each success can lead to additional steps and additional successes.
Ensure your goals resonate with you – don’t get caught up in what your family, friends or colleagues think should be your priorities.
Write down your goals or take a photo of your list and make it your phone screen saver to act as a reminder.
Identify pitfalls or roadblocks so you are aware of what might derail your intentions and have a plan to deal with them.
Set deadlines for each step of your goal and mark them in your diary or calendar. This will help keep you on track.
Embrace your accomplishments rather than dwelling on failure – everyone has days or weeks where unforeseen events mean even the best-laid plans go out the window. Instead of feeling guilty about having takeaways a couple of times, remind yourself that cooked healthy dinners for the other five nights of the week.
Reward yourself when you achieve a goal or complete one of the steps on the way. It doesn’t have to be a big reward – perhaps a new exercise t-shirt when you have completed your first 20 workouts or a Netflix binge when that CV is updated.
Be flexible – if we have learned anything in the past few years, it’s that life can change quickly. Review your goals at least every six months – if your circumstances or priorities have changed, your goals may need a tweak.
Setting health and wellbeing goals
We know that the Te Atatu Toasted community is committed to good health and wellbeing. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. In part two of our goal-setting guide, we share a few tips and suggestions for achievable goals that might work for you and your family this year.
If healthy eating is an area you want to focus on, consider some of these goals that promote positive changes to your everyday eating rather than trying to follow unrealistic, restrictive meal plans.
Swap either your usual morning or afternoon tea snack for a vegetable-based option, such as carrots and hummus or cucumber sticks and low-fat cream cheese. Or fruit and yoghurt instead of biscuits.
Swap refined grain foods for wholefood options wherever possible – wholewheat bread, brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice. All Te Atatu Toasted cereals are made with wholefood ingredients.
When setting fitness goals, flexibility is key. Aiming to exercise for 40 minutes four or five days a week is more attainable than making a commitment to attend the gym five times a week. It means that walk with a friend counts towards your weekly goal or if you are recovering from an injury or illness, you can opt for a gentle stretching session instead of a hardcore gym class or weights routine.
Other tips to help you enjoy exercise more include
Try one new form of exercise a month. If you are a dedicated runner, you might want to try a Pilates class or check out some of the online dance offerings. If you tend to favour cardio, get some weight-training in.
Get an exercise buddy – it’s much harder to bypass a walk or workout if you have arranged to meet someone.
Ditch the car for short trips and walk or ride if you can.
Remember you are in it for the long run (excuse the pun) – it’s better to start slow and build up than go all out and give up.
Stretch – this will prevent injury and make exercise more enjoyable, and it’s especially important as we get older.
Focus on healthy habit rather than results – it’s better to aim for regular exercise sessions than to aim run 5km in 30 minutes.
Other wellbeing goals you might like to consider include:
Establishing a regular sleep routine
Setting aside time for social activities. Periods of lockdown in the past two years mean many of us have gotten out of the habit of meeting up with people but social isolation and loneliness are associated with many adverse health conditions including insomnia, depression and reduced immune function.
Try meditation or another mindfulness activity
Give back to your community – volunteering, even if it’s for one or two hours a month – can increase happiness levels and reduce stress.
Feel free to ignore these suggestions and come up with your own but remember to focus on just a few goals at a time or you will risk being overwhelmed and giving up.
Getting ahead in work or business
It’s been a tough few years juggling working or running a business while dealing with the reality of a worldwide pandemic, rising interest rates and global upheaval. Many of us have just hunkered down and done what we needed to survive.
But it might be time to take stock of our professional lives and think about any changes we want to make this year. This is part four of our goal-setting guide – check out the other blogs here.
Many of us were desperate to get back to our office or work premises in 2022. But if you have returned to your job and are still feeling flat about your work life, it might be time to look around for another option. Getting a new job can seem overwhelming but here are a few steps that will help you get started.
Update your resume and your LinkedIn Profile so when you start your job search in earnest, you are ready to go.
Consider whether you still like the role you are doing and just need to look at transferring to a new organisation or whether you are ready for a different job completely. If you want to switch careers, think about what new skills you need or training you should undertake and start doing that part-time.
Reach out to former colleagues or other trusted contacts who might be able to help with your job search.
Take your time – don’t rush into another job or work situation that doesn’t feel right.
Even if you don’t want to switch jobs, there might be changes you want to make in your professional life.
Set boundaries. Working from home more has meant blurred lines between our professional and personal lives. Sometimes this works well for everyone but if you feel like you lack balance or can’t switch off from work, it might be time to set some rules around the hours you are available and ensuring you have some time away from checking emails or taking calls.
Learn something new at least every three months. If your organisation offers personal development or training opportunities, sign up for them. If they don’t or if you want to develop a skill for a job you don’t have yet, there are loads of free or affordable online courses you can take.
Take on more responsibility. You might not be ready to tackle an entirely new role but there might be scope for you to take on a new task or support a new project. It’s a great way to meet new people, get new skills and feel re-energised about work.
Embrace flexibility – just because we can return to the workplace fulltime, doesn’t mean we have to. If you have proved you can work from home or do flexi hours and manage your job successfully, have a discussion with your manager about how you can continue to work in a way that fits in with your life.
Better in business
When you run your own business, you need to know a little bit about a lot of things – business planning, financial management, people management, marketing and promotion, distribution and health and safety are probably just a few of the things on your agenda. Sometimes it’s hard to take time away from working in the business to work on the business but there are a few things you can do to kickstart the process.
Do a SWOT analysis looking at your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then make a diary note to do it every year. This is a great starting point for creating a basic business plan of what you want to focus on – some people find it works well to have six-month goals, one-year goals and two-year goals. It can be hard to look much further ahead than that, especially for a small business.
Research your competitors. Look at what they do well or badly to improve your own processes.
Consider joining a business networking group – then you can get support and advice from other business owners.
Decide where you need expert help. If you know you need support with cyber security or digital marketing and social media, find someone you can contract for a few hours a month to help with that. If finances and paying wages are not in your skillset, get a good accountant. While it might seem to be an extra expense, it’s likely that bringing in this expertise will help you save money or increase your income in the long run.
Think about what you should stop doing – are there services or products you are offering that have run their course? Are there processes that need an overhaul or could be automated or outsourced to give you more time to focus on growing your business?
Think about what you should start doing – are there new areas of development in your industry you should be moving into? Is there a new position or role you could create that would help grow your business and provide a good return on investment?
What do you want for your family, finances and home?
Often when we think about goal setting, we focus on health and wellbeing or career and forget about one of the most important areas of our lives – what’s happening at home.
In part three of our goal-setting guide, we want to encourage you to think about priorities for your family this year. It might be something you want to do with your partner, or if you have older children, consider involving them in the process. It can even help to get advice or input from a close trusted friend who might be able to see your situation more clearly than you can!
Family is often more than the people we share a roof with. Many people are juggling extended families and caring responsibilities. Others live far away from relatives and rely heavily on friends, neighbours and the local community to be part of their wider whānau. Think about who you consider your family to be when you look at these ideas.
What boundaries do you need to set this year? If you are caring for an elderly relative, it might be around what days of the week you are available to support them. If you have teenagers at home, you might want to set up one or two nights when everyone is expected to be home for a family dinner. Or if dinner is too hard to manage, schedule a compulsory family breakfast. Whip up some healthy breakfast cookies or flapjacks using Te Atatu Toasted muesli to entice everyone to be there. When you have a young family, making sure you get some adult only time is really important.
What do you want to do more of? Do you want to have a weekly family bike ride? Do you want to be more social with friends, family or neighbours? After the lockdowns and isolating with Covid-19 of the past three years, many of us have gotten out of the habit of entertaining. Do you want to have more weekends away? Or maybe you want to set some simple goals like dance more or read more.
What do you want to do less of? You might want to look at limits to screen time for the whole family given how much this has crept up in recent years. Is the distribution of household chores something that needs to be reconsidered? Older children can contribute to the running of the household or if finances allow, maybe some of those ongoing tasks like cleaning or lawn mowing can be outsourced.
In the home
Our homes have become an important sanctuary in the pastfewyears. Everyone deserves to live somewhere they want to be. Think about:
Having stuff we don’t want or need lying around is incredibly energy draining. There is something very satisfying about a clear out. You can even divide the rooms into each month of the year to make the task less overwhelming. Community sites on Facebook or local charity shops are a great way to pass on items someone else might get use from.
The environment. What are you and your family going to do to look after our precious earth this year? Get some ideas from our blog on how to live more sustainably.
A maintenance manifesto. Whether this is the year you are going to replace the kitchen, or whether you just need to replace all the lightbulbs that aren’t working, now is the time to make a comprehensive list of all the things that bug you around the house. It doesn’t matter if you own or rent – there are things you can improve without spending a great deal of money. Don’t forget about the outside area – is it time to plant some fruit trees, get some new outdoor furniture or just invest in a few new pot plants for your balcony?
Let’s face it – talking about money and budgets is not everyone’s idea of fun. But if you spend a bit of time on it now, it can prevent a stressful situation later. Think about:
Whether there is anything you can do to pay off your debts faster
What big ticket items do you need to budget for this year? If you know your washing machine is on its last legs, start putting aside a weekly or fortnightly amount to replace it. If taking a family holiday is a goal after a few years of staying home, start thinking about how you will pay for it.
Where you might be spending money unnecessarily. There are some great budgeting tools online that can help you track your expenses. Are you paying for three online streaming services when you only use one? Are you still paying for a membership at a gym you never went back to after the first lockdown because you can’t be bothered with the hassle of cancelling it? Are you at the supermarket every second day, then chucking out food at the end of every week?
Reviewing your insurance cover – our needs change with different life stages. Life insurance might be vital if you have young children and only one income but once your kids are financially independent or your mortgage is paid off, you might want to put that money into better health insurance or saving for retirement.
Address financial issues honestly, especially if you are in a shared finances arrangement. If you have totally different spending and saving habits from your partner, or if you both prefer to stick in your head in the sand, consider consulting a professional advisor.
These are just some ideas to get you thinking about what you want to achieve for the people you love this year.