Yes, it’s that time again. No, not time for score release; time to ring in the New Year! And with every New Year comes those awful things that we promise we’ll abide by but never actually do. That’s right. We’re talking about New Year’s resolutions.
So whether you’re trying to pass all 4 sections of the CPA Exam before the 2017 changes or are looking to get through one section of studying without smashing your ceramic plates against the wall, here are some tips you can use to make sure you not only create some good ones, but actually stick to them.
Think about this past year, or go even further back to the past few years. What is a goal that you’ve always wanted to accomplish? What are areas in your life that need improvement? If there were 2 or 3 things that you wish could be different, what would they be? It’s important to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and trials and tribulations. Especially if you’re looking to become a CPA. Think about who you’d like to become and who you currently are.
2. Choose 1 or 2 goals
Let your reflection guide you into choosing 1 or 2 goals that you would like to accomplish in the New Year. The mistake that many people make is creating too many goals for themselves, which is overwhelming and unrealistic. Keep your resolutions short, simple, and sweet. This way you can really focus on 1 or 2 important changes you’d like to make without spreading yourself too thin.
3. Create a plan of action
Having great goals is all fine and well, but they will amount to nothing without a solid plan of action. Use an excel sheet, daily planner, or your phone to create a blueprint of exactly how you will accomplish these goals. This could mean creating a strict daily schedule or hitting weekly/monthly objectives spread out over time. Incorporate stepping stones into your daily life that you can realistically reach. This is very similar to our study planners. If you want to pass the CPA Exam in 3, 6, or 9 months, you must carve out the appropriate time to dedicate to that goal. So if you need to tell family and friends about your resolution in order for them to give you the proper support, by all means, please do!
4. Hold yourself accountable
Life has a great way of interfering with anything we set out to do, and that that doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. So remember to hold yourself accountable for achieving your goals. Don’t make excuses and don’t let other unpredictable life events deter you. At the end of the day, you are the only person who can decide whether or not you will make things happen!
5. Don’t be afraid of failure
There may be times when you don’t quite meet your objectives, or when you give in to watching cat YouTube videos instead of doing anything else. Or, there may be times when you tried really hard, but the task just didn’t get finished. Know that it’s okay! Learn from those failures and use them as a way to do better next time, whether that means refining your objectives or using new techniques to accomplish them.
6. Have rewards in place
This is an important step, for yourself and those around you! Don’t forget to reward yourself for reaching tiny milestones in your overall goals. If you reach your daily, weekly, or monthly objectives, treat yourself to something awesome. This will give you extra incentive to continue to work hard and see things through.
7. Have confidence and faith
Sometimes, the largest obstacle between you and accomplishing your goals is…well…you! It’s easy to push things back and be lenient with yourself: “I have plenty of time do finish this next week.” “It’s not often that family and friends are in town.” “I’ve had a hard and busy day at work.” It’s also very easy to feel that you’re not strong enough to accomplish your goals in the schedule that you’ve set. But you can, and you will! Perhaps the most valuable tip you can take away from this is to have confidence and faith in yourself. If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t!
As the last days of December brings this year to a close, many of us will add 2015 as a closed chapter to our lives and look forward to 2016 as the addition of a new one. But we should all remember that every year, whether past or present, gives us a chance to better ourselves and our lives.
Happy New Year’s Resolutions planning. You’ve got this!