In today’s terrifying news, it’s almost the end of the year. I know, I know—it feels like just a second ago, you were smack-dab in the middle of glorious summer. The fact of the matter is that 2015 will be on its way out very soon, and a new year brings with it new goals. Before you throw yourself into tackling your 2016 resolutions, there’s one small housekeeping item: seeing your 2015 ones through to completion. Although you have the finish line of December 31, 2015, in sight, there is still over a month to get it all done. Here, some clutch tips for doing just that.
Maybe you’d like to land an amazing new job, give your lifestyle a healthy makeover, achieve world domination . . . you know, the usual suspects. While shooting for the stars is admirable, don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much in such a short period. Instead, choose your top two or three goals, depending on how big of an undertaking each one is. Then drill them down to the actionable parts that are only dependent on you, not other people. For example, instead of saying your goal is to get a new job, consider making it something like applying to three jobs per week until the end of the year.
Sharing your goals with people is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable. While some, like working out more, are great for blasting on Twitter or Facebook, others like getting a new job? Not so much, since you wouldn’t want your current boss to stumble upon it! Instead of looping everyone in via social media, share more private objectives with three specific people: a mentor who gives genius advice, your best friend who basically doubles as your own personal cheerleading squad, and whichever family member believes in you wholeheartedly, and nags you just enough to get you moving.
You officially have eight weeks until December 31, which is more than enough time to make some incredible progress, but just enough time to lose motivation. To keep yourself on track, create one measurable achievement you should reach every week, whether it’s setting up an informational interview, joining a new networking group, or pitching a brilliant project to your boss.
It’s amazing how many hidden pockets of time you can find if you just look. A half hour of browsing Facebook here, 15 minutes of water-cooler chat there, it all adds up. While leisure time is important for helping your brain rest and then rebound chock-full of new ideas, too much downtime can be detrimental when you’re in a goals time crunch. Try cutting out one time-waster each day, and instead using those moments to chip away at your target.
Does exercise take away from time you could devote to working on your goals? Sure. But it could also boost your determination in a way that makes it all worth it. Not only is your system flooded with feel-good endorphins after a sweat session, working out can provide crucial time for your brain to disengage from its normal heavy lifting. That makes exercise a prime time for a-ha moments. Even if you don’t have one, chances are you’ll be in a good mood after!
If you really want to power through the remaining days before the end of the year, make the most of your mornings. First thing when you sit down at your desk, knock the scariest goal-related task off your to-do list. You’ll get an energizing “I can do this!” rush that will help you face whatever challenges arise throughout the rest of the day.
A timer is about to become your true BFF, thanks to this tried-and-true tip. Chop your day up into chunks of dedicated time to work on different parts of your goal, but build in rest throughout. When you tell yourself you’ll work on one task for, say, 40 minutes, then relax for five, you reap major benefits. If you’re facing down a scary project, it’s a way to reassure yourself you won’t be toiling away forever because you’ve committed to having a break. This method also helps ward off multitasking (it’s a total myth!) since each time segment has a purpose.
You’re more likely to care about short-term benefits than long-term payoffs. It’s why it’s temptingly easy to blow through three episodes of Quantico when you could be organizing your email. That immediate reward is often more attractive than putting effort toward a benefit you may not see for a while. That’s why creating a ta-da list at the end of the day can be so crucial. Looking over everything you finished can inspire a source of pride, which may be enough to stoke the flames of your motivation.
[Related: The Secret To Reaching Those Big Goals]
You might be reading all these tips and thinking, “Uh, hello, Zahra, do you know how busy my schedule is about to get?” Yes, yes I do. The holidays beget cocktail parties, office celebrations, and enough family get-togethers to fill every day of the week. Luckily, you don’t have to turn into a hermit during the most fun time of the year. Instead, use a rewards system. Attach each social event to a specific milestone you want to hit by the time it arrives. If you want to be strict about it, only allow yourself to go to said event if you’ve knocked that step off your list. Every time you look forward to the festivity in question, you’ll also get a reminder of what you have to accomplish so you can go forth and be merry, not only guilt-free, but full of excitement about what you just achieved.
This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.