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How to map out the best year of your life in 7 steps

by Yvette Maurice

Welcome to 2013! Early in the New Year is a great time to revisit your goals: you’ve got 12 months to make this the best year of your life. But where do you start? How can you make sure that you will look back on 2013 with satisfaction?

1. Work Out Who You Want to Be in 2013

First of all, think for a minute about what your ideal life would look like. Where would you be living? What skills would you have and what would you be doing day to day? What would your job look like, what would your interests be? Go into some detail and imagine just how far you could go in one single year.

Think of a successful time in your past – can you remember back to a year where you seemed to be kicking goals left, right and centre? What would it take for this year to be successful for you? For some people it could be about health, for some about family and free time, for others it could be about monetary gain and personal or professional achievements.

2. Let Go of Past Failures – New Year, New You

Failures can actually be a good thing. Thomas Edison (inventor of the light bulb) said that he “failed his way to success” and you can too.

Just because you failed once (or twice) doesn’t mean you’ll always fail. The Mayo Clinic believes that “only by looking at our so-called failures can we really learn and grow”. You actually learn more from failing than you do by succeeding so don’t beat yourself up. Step back and assess where you went wrong in 2012, but think how far you’ve come regardless.

Tell yourself that you are stronger now than ever and that 2013 is a year for you to both achieve and fail. Let your failures point the way to your future success.

3. Come Up with 5 Big Life Goals

Your first step is to identify your five major life goals. Keep the list short and make sure each one of the five goals is essentially important. If you have more than five goals, prioritise the top five.

Make sure your goals are realistic. Be honest with yourself. The same can be said about all goals, including fitness and personal goals.

The next step is to make sure your goals are measurable. Be specific about what you want to achieve. Instead of saying, “I would like to own and create a top website,” say “I want to build a website with twenty thousand visitors per month, generating me X amount in income.” Instead of saying, “I want to be a successful singer,” say “I want to be earning X% of my income from singing and be signed on to a major talent agency.”

Use some past goals as a template – when do you feel that you were achieving in your life? Did you even realise it at the time? Don’t compare yourself to others; run your own show. Identify the goals within the goals; in each big goal you’ll find many steps and indicators along the way. Learn to celebrate and appreciate these or you won’t be present when you do succeed.

4. Map Out Achievable Steps Towards Each Major Goal

You may not be earning millions and living in a mansion by December 2013, what you are aiming for is to be on the path towards five of your major goals.

Writing these out can help: divide 2013 into 12 months and add your achievement milestones. If your major goal is to be a world-famous speaker on a particular topic, then an achievable step could be to get three paid speaking or MC jobs in 2013. This might involve doing some training, joining a speaking club and undertaking some study in your area of expertise. Map these small goals out month by month and check them off as you go.

Consider study in the area that you are interested in. Studying as an adult can help to immerse yourself in the culture of people who are doing what you aim to do. Meet up with others (in person and online) and talk to those who have achieved success in your industry of interest. Open Colleges has over a hundred accredited and nationally recognised online courses to help you get started.

Try something new. If you’ve been trying to break into design for a while, consider study in a different program or discipline. Identify mentors in your industry and make contact with them. For some tips on meeting mentors, check out this post on how to network effectively on the Open Colleges Blog.

5. Now Get Real

Give yourself time. This is your year plan, not your life plan. Don’t expect miracles, expect hard work and measurable achievements. Accept that there are some things you cannot change; try to anticipate roadblocks to your goals such as work, budget and family commitments. Understand that there may be set-backs, and don’t allow yourself to become discouraged by these.

You may want to secure a job as a management professional, but you haven’t yet made it past the first interview. Congratulate yourself for making it the interview stage and assure yourself that your next interview is just around the corner.

Look at past behaviours to identify weak spots. “You can’t just take advantage of your strengths. You also have to recognise your weaknesses, and learn how to make them benefit your particular style. This will help you come across as authentic and competent.” It’s important to constantly refine your strengths and weaknesses, to identify your particular niche.

6. Ask For Help

Getting a mentor in your area of interest is a great way to make headway towards a goal. Whether it’s a monetary, fitness or career goal, find someone who is doing what you want to achieve and learn from them. Ideally you should have a few different mentors, some who may be high profile and some who are at a stage closer to yours.

Choosing to study as an adult can be a great way to meet a mentor. When you elect to do a short or long course, it puts you in contact with teachers, trainers and speakers in the area that you are interested in. By surrounding yourself with like-minded people, you’ll feel closer to your goals already.

Even your boss can be a mentor, or your friends and acquaintances. Connect with people via social media and build up a network of contacts. If you are struggling, consider professional help, such as a career guidance counsellor, fitness professional or financial planner.

Deciding to undertake structured learning or training can be a great way to move steadily towards your goals.

The courses at Open Colleges have been designed with busy individuals in mind – you can study where-ever and when-ever you want, at a pace that suits you.

7. Look Within

Before you begin – assess why your goals are important to you so that you don’t send yourself down an unfulfilling path. For example, assess whether you want to own your own business because you want to be your own boss, or because you want to be wealthy. Is flexibility more important to you than a massive pay cheque? Think about your real interests and don’t sell yourself short by trying to impress others.

Make sure you are aiming for the right things. Is your health kick about losing weight to look good for your high school reunion or are you doing it for long term health? Think about why you want the things you want.

Consider asking yourself if you’ve asked for too much or too little- be realistic with yourself. Challenge your idea of ‘success’; what does success mean to you? Would you consider yourself successful if you were creatively fulfilled? Does that equate to being well-known in your industry or simply having a sense of purpose and drive?

Make 2013 the Best Year of Your Life

With a bit of forward planning, confidence and hard work, this could be one of your best years ever. Identify your goals and have the confidence and work ethic to realise them. Keep your 2013 plan somewhere prominent in your house or near your desk and mark off your goals as you achieve them.


“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

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