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The worst mistake you’ll make this Christmas*

by Yvette Maurice

Where did 2012 go?

You know the feeling – you started the year with all these goals and dreams and now it’s already December, you’re another year older and what have you done? Can you say that you’ve ticked off all your goals?

While Australia parties and gets a tan this summer, it’s really easy to forget about how you’ll feel in February. If you don’t make plans now, you could be scrambling to sort yourself out in 2013.

* Answer: Forgetting About Your Personal and Professional Goals

It’s a mistake to forget about the things you set out for yourself at the beginning of the year: here are a dozen points to remind you that your life shouldn’t stop when the weather warms up.

1. You’ve Got More Time on Your Plate

Taking a break from work over the holiday period? Looking forward to the extra public holidays? This could be a perfect time to take some uninterrupted moments to think about and prepare for your future. During the year, we’ve often got so much on our minds; we come home from work exhausted and all we want to do is eat dinner and relax on the couch. Make good use of the looser summer schedule and put your time to good use. Don’t do it because you have to – but because you want to! Taking some ‘me’ time to invest in your goals can be a fulfilling experience.

2. You Don’t Need to Work 24/7, but Set a Few Achievable Goals and Get Organised

It’s important to take some down time! Don’t expect to work harder on your days off than you do on your regular working days, but taking just a few short moments a few times a day can be very useful. Flag, or download and save documents and sites to read later, and scroll through them on your smart phone or tablet when you have some free time. You don’t need to work 24/7, but putting in a few small efforts can contribute to a successful new year.

3. Plan Ahead: You’ll Have More Time to Relax, and Feel Better About It

The good thing about doing a small amount of work, research and planning for your goals in 2013 is that you’ll feel better about the time you are relaxing. Even if you only spend 15 minutes 4 times a day reading about courses, workshops or researching career or personal goals, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something, and you can enjoy that afternoon swim or 5 o’clock beer even more.

4. Get Excited About 2013 – Have Something to Look Forward To

Think how great you’ll feel when you’ve decided on a plan of action for 2013; getting to the end of January with nothing on the horizon can be a worrying predicament and you may feel like you’re rushing towards goals that everyone else has already set in place. Make 2013 a successful year by getting organised now.

“Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable,” says Action for Happiness.

5. If You’ve Got a Lot to Achieve in 2013, You’ll Hit the Ground Running

You may be one of those people who has lots of stuff on your list. Your goal list for 2013 doesn’t need to be all about work or all about personal goals: make it a mix of stuff you want to achieve, stuff you want to maintain, people you want to connect with and realistic goals that you can make happen.

Write your list now and break it down month by month or season by season; it may include things like, ‘eat a healthier diet,’ or ‘call my mum at least once a week,’ or study and career goals  such as, ‘attend two small business seminars by March 2013,’ or ‘research 3 different accounting courses,’. Plot your year out and it will seem less hazy and more manageable.

6. Plan Ahead While the Rest of the Pack Plays Around

Use this time to your advantage! Author William A. Ward famously said, “Recipe for success: Study while others are sleeping; work while other are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”

Many of the world’s greatest champions had to go the extra mile to get ahead of the pack. While it’s never good to obsess and stress about achieving, if you can motivate yourself to put the hard yards in now, you’ll be able to relax more at the beginning of the year, while your mates are scrambling to catch up.

7. Map Out Where You Will Be This Time Next Year

Does it seem that you were only planning your Christmas and New Year’s a couple of months ago? Tempus Fugit (time flies!) is a good thing to keep in mind. Think about what you achieved in 2012, give yourself credit for the good things you did and highlight to yourself where you may have dropped the ball and what you could have done better.

Be honest. Create a clear picture of who and where you could be by this time next year, and map out your year in stages to make sure you are achieving your small goals along the way.

8. Could You Have Made an Extra $5K by 2014?

Most of us have an extra five thousand dollars in us somewhere – it just takes a little planning and action. Could you freelance some of your skills? Could you study for a qualification that will allow you to ask for a raise or get a higher paying job? Could you do a diploma that would qualify you to run a small business on the side in beauty, counselling, accounting or personal training?

By focusing on a clear and achievable goal – you are setting yourself up for success. Make your vision quite defined: don’t say, “I want a better job,” say, “I want a job that allows me to pursue my website building business on the side,” or, “I want to change my job title from coordinator to manager by November 2013.”

9. Imagine Being ½ Way Through a Course by the End of February? Or Nearly Finished?

Many of the courses available online can be completed in as little as a few months! If you began a course today, you could, in reality, be more than half way finished by February 2013, leaving most of the year to achieve further goals or more advanced study.

10. Budgets can be Tight after Christmas – Start Now While You Still Have that Christmas Bonus in Your Wallet

You will spend money in the next month – that’s a guarantee. It’s very easy to get to January 2nd with five hundred dollars or more missing from your wallet, and all you have to show for it is a bunch of ill-fitting undies, dodgy soaps and chocolates, and a few nights out on the town.

Use this time before the gift-buying bonanza and the partying starts to put at least some of your cash to good use. Many online courses can be paid off in a flexible way (similar to a gym membership), rather than having to come up with hundreds of dollars upfront.

11. Unis and TAFEs have Limited Summer Study Options – Open Colleges Tutors are Here All Year – Even Christmas Eve!

Many universities shut up shop between late November and March. TAFE often has limited study opportunities during the summer as well, so does that mean you’ll have to wait until March to get stuck into study? Not at all! Online study can be done flexibly, starting on any day of the year (even Christmas Day) and if you need help or guidance, the Open Colleges Student Support team are here to help.

Access OpenSpace 24/7, and use the summer holiday period to work on the things you love.

12. Your New Year’s Resolution is Looming!

Melissa Ironside from Nine MSN gives a great summary of what makes a good New Year’s resolution: “Be specific. Keep it simple. Have a strategy. Share your goals with others. Start today!”

But don’t stress out or take yourself too seriously! Keep your personal and career goals as a positive part of your day; don’t make your search and discovery a chore. Commit to yourself right now to make a few changes and spend some time giving back to yourself for all the hard work you’ve done in 2012.

With 2013 just around the corner – aim to make it the best, most productive and happiest year you’ve had in ages. Believe in yourself and match your dreams with manageable goal planning and you are bound to be successful.

To find out more about your study options over the Christmas break, go here.

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