How To Make 2019 Your Year Of Action, According To Life Coaches

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With the New Year comes new goals, from career ones to lifestyle ones. You may write out a list of goals, buy a special planner that has you set and track your goals each week, or have a friend hold you accountable. But how do you hold yourself accountable? If you’re wondering how to make 2019 your year of action, life coaches can help. After all, the entire year — not just the start of the New Year — they help people come up with goals and then follow through on them. Sure, it’ll take some discipline and retraining your brain, but once you begin doing things differently — like saving $50 more dollars a week by not buying coffee out anymore — you’ll start to see results, and your new way of doing things will suddenly become habits.

“One way to follow through on goals is by making realistic goals and also smaller goals that take you where you want to be,” Dagmar Bryant, a transformational coach, tells Bustle. “Focus on two aspects, the macro and the micro — the big-picture result and the progress steps needed to get there.” She says that one of the most disheartening things is making too big a goal and then throwing in the towel because you don’t get there quickly enough.

In terms of what types of goals to set, Bryant says to look at areas of your life that you are dissatisfied about. “Many times, people say they want change, but they don’t want to take the action steps required,” she says. Instead, she suggests asking yourself what happiness means to you, as well as to imagine you had a clean slate and could start again from scratch: What is your “What if…?” Good question, right?!

So, if you want to make 2019 your year of action — like finally getting that promotion at work or quitting and starting your own business altogether — below, life coaches weigh in on how to make it happen.

1Be Clear On What You Want

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Of course, when you’re setting goals, it’s important to know what you want. “When working with clients, I always ask them: ‘What do you want to be different?" Emily Cosgrove, licensed marriage and family therapist and life coach for women, tells Bustle. "What areas do you want to see change? If you woke up tomorrow and everything had changed, what would it look like?’” Then, she has them describe every detail and tell her what it would feel like.

Asking her clients open-ended questions helps them get clear on exactly what they want. “Plus, I have them visualize all details so they can use that to set their intention and, from that, create goals that will align with their intention and desire,” she says. “I typically ask them to also journal about these questions, allowing them to fully explore and have a record of what they desire that they can refer back to.”

Catherine Tingey, life and business coach and founder of Coach Cat, agrees. “Visualize yourself already having reached your goal,” she tells Bustle. “Specificity is key here — I have my clients take note of how their body feels in this state, where they’re living, who they’re with, how an average day unfolds, what their house looks like, etc. The more specific, the better!”

2Think Holistically

Chanel Dokun, founder of LifePlan NYC, tells Bustle that in order to get traction this year and follow through on your goals, you need to think holistically. “One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals is they look at aspects of life in isolation,” she says. “When we ignore how the domains of our lives are interrelated, we fail to see how one situation can help or hinder another area of life.”

Instead, she suggests that you assess your life by looking at all five big domains: personal health, family, career, spirituality, and community.

3Create A Vision Board

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In addition to writing out your goals in a journal, it helps to visualize them, too, by making a vision board. “Create a ‘vision board’ and remember: This is for yourself,” Genena Woodson Armstrong, life coach and founder of Metamorphosis Coaching LLC, tells Bustle. “A vision board is simply a ‘picture of purpose’ — a visual representation of how you envision your future.” She recommends using both pictures (like ones you cut out of magazines) and words. “These can either be short- or long-term goals,” she says.

Woodson says clients of hers who have created a vision board in the beginning of the year have found they are more empowered, focused, and energized about the upcoming year. “Watching their vision board throughout the year is a visual reminder of investing in yourself,” she says.

Life coach Cherelle Palmer agrees. “A vision board is a powerful tool used to help clarify, concentrate, and maintain focus on your current goals,” she tells Bustle. “Making a vision board at the beginning of a new year helps create better intention, as well as increase productivity.” She adds that when you are able to constantly visualize your goals, you are more likely to stay focused and motivated to reach them.

4Practice Mindfulness

Tess Brigham, therapist and life coach, tells Bustle that to achieve all you want to achieve in 2019, you must be mindful. “The first step I recommend my clients to take is to learn how to become more aware of their thoughts and feelings,” she says. “The best way to do this is by learning to practice mindfulness, the ability to train your attention to what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment.” That way, the easier it will be to manage your thoughts and feelings. “There are so many things that are out of our control, but the one thing you have complete control over is how you feel and think about a person or situation,” she says.

If you need a nudge doing this, you can pick three or four times per day to be mindful. “You can set an alarm to remind yourself or pick times of day when you know you’ll have a minute or two to sit down, check in with yourself, and reflect upon how you’re feeling,” Brigham says. “The more you do this, the more it will happen without an alarm or any kind of prompting.”

5Don’t Get Stuck In The Past — Focus On The New

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Darlene Corbett, success coach and author of Stop Depriving The World of You: A Guide for Getting Unstuck, tells Bustle it’s important to keep moving forward. “Nothing stays the same — every sunrise and sunset are not only unique, but new,” she says. She adds that the only purpose for thinking about the past is to savor the delicious memories and ask yourself what you have learned. “Build on the past, but do not stay immersed in it because you will remain stuck.”

If you do feel yourself getting stuck, Corbett says to close your eyes, take a journey inward, and allow yourself to visualize or experience something which will give you strength going forward. “This will not only make you feel empowered, but will also mobilize you more than ever,” she says.

6Start By Setting Goals For The First Quarter Of The Year Only

If setting goals for the entire year seems too overwhelming, Dokun has a simple solution: Just set goals for the first quarter of 2019 — at least for now. “When you think too far ahead by setting annual goals, you’re sure to lose momentum or get discouraged as new circumstances inevitably arise throughout the year that impact your success,” she says. “Plus, this way, you’ll also stay nimble and be able to easily refine your goals for the next quarter.”

7Commit To Investing In Yourself

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To become a better you, you need to invest in yourself more. “Whether it be books, workshops, courses, or coaching programs, if it involves personal growth in an area that you desire change, go all in,” Kenzie A. Bond, an empowerment coach for high-achieving women, tells Bustle. “Also, make a commitment to take a small — or series of small — action steps.” She says you can easily integrate them into your daily life, and they are much less intimidating than attempting to adopt a completely new lifestyle in one swoop.

8Eliminate Self-Sabotage

You know how there’s a voice in your head that sometimes makes you doubt yourself? Well, don’t listen. “Eliminate self-sabotage,” Ali Zabel, lifestyle and business coach, tells Bustle. “For instance, if you tend to procrastinate, then 2019 is your year to stop! If something will take you less than five minutes to do, then do it right then rather than putting it off for a later time.”

9Do One Thing Each Day To Get Closer To Your Goals

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Any type of goal can seem overwhelming, especially *huge* ones, like writing a novel or starting your own business. But, if you break up the work it takes to achieve that end goal, it won’t seem as overwhelming. “Oftentimes, people get stuck on their path of attaining goals because they feel like they need to be ready or accomplish these other tasks before they are able to take anymore steps — but that’s not the case,” Cosgrove says. There will always be an excuse or growing list of things that need to be done before you can take the next step and time will be lost in the waiting, she says.

“So, ask yourself: ‘What can you do today to move yourself one step closer?’ There’s always something,” Cosgrove says. She adds that if you feel stuck, refer back to your journal and read what you wrote about your desires and goals (see #1). “Then, spend time free-writing to uncover blocks that are holding you back,” she says. “Your desires and goals are valid; you just need to believe in yourself and take the inspired action.”

Tingey agrees. “A goal is nothing more than a series of challenges that need to be met,” she says. “If you can break your goal into actionable items, you’ll know what you should be doing each week/month/quarter.”

10Focus On Forward Momentum, Not Perfection

Even if you’re a perfectionist, it’s more important to keep moving forward versus getting stuck on a task until it is perfect. “Sometimes we tend to dwell in perfectionism and that will hold you back from crossing tasks off of your to-do list,” Zabel says. “This next year, keep working toward the end goal and get your results.”

11Find Someone To Hold You Accountable

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“It is one thing to write out goals, but an entirely different thing is to set goals into action,” Woodson says. “The ‘action’ is what most people find most challenging — and, even more so, sticking with it. She says that if you’re not in a position to hire a life coach to keep you accountable, your best bet is to find an accountability partner or a tool (like a calendar) that works for you.

12Carry A Good-Luck Object

Palmer suggests carrying around a talisman — an object that holds value for the person who possesses it. “It can influence your actions and decisions by acting as a reminder of your goals,” she says. “You certainly do not need to attach any magical power to the talisman; it is simply a tool used to keep your values in order.” She says she encourages her clients to choose an object that is small, yet special, and can easily fit into a pant pocket or purse.

“Carry the object with you throughout the day. Then, whenever you happen to see it, pick it up and think of at least one thing you are grateful for.” Palmer says it can be about something as small as being able to feel grateful for the things going on within your life. “This small habit can help elicit major changes in your outlook on life and you will begin to focus more on the positives, regardless of your current situation.” And then, you’ll become unstoppable, she says.

13Release Things — Or People — That Are In The Way Of Your Goals

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Sometimes, it’s easy to get distracted by things or people — and time you spend with them can take away from time you spend on your true passions. Cosgrove says to figure out areas that don’t feel good in your life. “Process and release things or people that drain or no longer serve you in your life so you are able to move forward with your goals,” she says.

Woodson agrees. "Who do you surround yourself with? If you are going to make any kind of change in your life, you better believe that the people you hang around with will either be haters, agitators, or what I call gravitators.” Gravitators are those people that will gravitate toward you to help you achieve your goals, she says. “Those are people like your mentors, sponsors, and true friends that want to see the best for you, so surround yourself with people that are either driving in the same lane as you are, or who are already way ahead of you. I always say, ‘If you’re the smartest one in your group, you need a new group!’”

Jennifer Longmore, life coach and founder of SoulJourneys.ca, agrees. “Surround yourself with go-getters,” she tells Bustle. “It’s far more motivating to surround yourself with people who want to get as much out of life as possible.” To meet such people, she suggests making a list of activities that you’re interested in trying or already enjoy doing — and then go do them.

14Keep A Celebration List

Longmore says that a great way to reward yourself along the way is to keep a celebration list. “At the end of each day, find three things to celebrate, from how you handled a situation to letting go of things you no longer want,” she says. “When we train our brain to celebrate our wins, we naturally seek out more things to celebrate, and it’s a lot easier to take action when we feel like we’re winning at life.” She says you can also celebrate wins at the end of each week. “Then decide how you are going to reward yourself for staying in action and doing things that fill your cup.”

15Don’t Give Up

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Tingey says that some people start out strong when pursuing new goals, but then they fail, usually after experiencing a setback and getting stuck. “Avoid getting stuck by knowing that each setback sharpens your problem-solving skills,” she says. “As you reach one goal, I guarantee you that your future goals will increase in complexity, so you’ll need advanced problem-solving skills to tackle even loftier goals in the future.”

Corbett agrees. “If you believe in something, continue to push through those obstacles,” she says. “Remember, the most successful people are not the most gifted, intelligent, beautiful, or wealthy; those who succeed are the most tenacious.”

If you want 2019 to be your year of action, it is possible. By implementing the advice above, you’ll be way on your way to fulfilling your goals in no time.