Sonya M. Sloan, MD, shares proven methods that can assist you in setting and achieving your goals for the new year.

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, Happy New Year! We made it. And with a sigh of relief, yes, 2021 is finally here. So now, after a year like none other and a rocky start to this year, you should embrace the notion that the future is still up to you.

The most important question to ask is: how will you motivate yourself to be productive and a person of empowerment in this new year that is pregnant with massive potential? Let’s start with the top five ways to motivate yourself. These proven methods can assist you on the right path so you can get more out of this great new year, regardless of what comes your way.

1. What is your why?

“Why” is the ultimate question in life, and everyone’s answer is different. Your purpose for being and existing coincides with remnants and memories of your past. These perspectives are specific to what molds your personality and character. The events in your life that you may take for granted are the ones that usually have the most significant impact.

Analyze the results of specific exposures, people, places, things, and/or a series of milestones in your life. Take a good look and reflect on who you are and how you got to this point. Then ask yourself, “What do I want in the future?” Your why in life can and will change. For the time being, be honest with yourself as to your why. I call this legacy living or intentionally constructing your life.

2. Set a goal!

Many of us will start this new year off with a New Year’s Resolution. Perhaps you have already done so. Research shows our resolutions will generally last fewer than 90 days. We start very energized and hopeful. Without specific goals that you weigh towards your situation, your success to reach said goals is almost doomed before you start.

Try this: set only one to two realistic goals. You probably can lose one-hundred pounds in six months, but you are setting yourself up with unrealistic ambition. Start with one to two pounds a week, and then revise as you go. Give yourself grace with mini-goals that will help obtain your overall goals (see more below). For this discussion, an example of a mini-goal is not eating after 8 pm or perhaps only one cookie a few times a week, not five after every meal, including breakfast (speaking from quarantine experience). Set your goal and stick with it.

Motivated healthcare workers

3. Execute with small steps every day

Most tasks or goals are never completed in one successful swoop. You can reach your goals through the small, mundane tasks you perform daily and ritualistically. Part of your overall success is to be very strategic. Your strategy should include time management. Set a schedule that you can live with that will push you towards your goals. You cannot get a lot done if you are always looking at others’ content on social media and consuming every news outlet.

Another strategic move is researching your goals. Remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Consider available resources (books, apps, non-profit organizations) as another way to aid in your success.

Lastly, be open to collaborations and/or mentorship. You may be closer to your goal than you realize and need a little push or assistance from someone who has been in your position before. Daily tasks will help you achieve your bigger goal. Think through the process (small steps) and see the big picture. Make a road map or plan for your goal, then execute it.

4. Put a value on it

What is your goal worth to you? Tony Robbins, a world-renowned guru of motivation, says that human beings do things for two reasons: pain or pleasure. Your motivation to accomplish anything in life is a construct around avoiding pain or achieving pleasure. So ask yourself, why are you doing this? How will it change who you are or where you go from here? What will it cost you if you don’t do this? What could you potentially gain if you do accomplish your goal? And remember, with each goal you achieve, your value and worth in who you are is exponentially increasing.

5. Show up!

Remember that no one wants this goal more than you. You are your competition. So show up and put in the time. Be intentional with your life goals and purposeful in your execution. Discipline goes a long way in the achievement of any plan. Will you get tired? Yes! Will you have setbacks? Yes! Will you fail? Yes! Those moments allow a persistent attitude and a determined mindset to be your anchor. You will learn more from your fatigue, setbacks, and failures than what anyone could ever teach you.

Your dedication and ambition will be your reinforcement. Throughout this year, continue to pursue your goals with tenacity and confidence. Tell yourself daily that you want to accomplish your goals. Remember that you can do this! Happy 2021!