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“How I get organized in the New Year?” is one of the most popular searches on the internet. It makes sense, of course, seeing as January 1st is considered the starting line for the race we’re all in. We race against busy calendars, displeasing numbers on the scale, chaotic kitchens, dirty vehicles—you name it. If there’s something we can improve upon, we like to make New Year’s resolutions to do so.
It turns out goal setting is more than a trend at the start of a new year. When put into practice, it’s actually highly effective. In 1968, American psychologist Edwin Locke published research on his theory of goal setting, research he continued for decades. It was, and is, highly influential in the field of organizational psychology.1
The scientific research on goal setting can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, you don’t need to dive into the science. Just know that setting goals can maximize performance, whether at work or in your personal life. If you’re one of those people Googling advice for getting organized, you’re off to a good start—because what’s a goal without motivation to guide it?
Below are three key areas to focus on in the new year. For busy professionals and parents, a simplified approach is the most realistic, and that’s what you’ll find here.
Here’s where you begin. Getting organized means setting goals, and to achieve them you must be disciplined. The path to your goals involves creating new habits. It’s commonly believed that it takes around 21 days to make a habit. Research in the past decade shows that number might be much higher, around 66 days.2 The key here is to be aware up front that it’ll take some work to get acclimated, and it’s okay if you have some setbacks.
Research shows that the more specific the goal is, the more likely you are to achieve it.
With that in mind, let’s say one of your goals is exercising more, which is one of the top New Year’s resolutions, and your ideal number is four workouts a week. You might not hit that number every week, but if you keep at it, eventually it’ll become part of your normal routine. In fact, you’ll look back and wonder what you ever did before you worked out four days a week.
The takeaway: Be specific and be committed!
Rest & Recharge
In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of sleep in regard to immune function. It’s not hard to imagine that sleep also affects our mental state. According to an article at Harvard Health, “a good night’s sleep helps foster mental and emotional resilience.” On top of your other goals, put good sleep habits on the list. If you’re well rested, you’re more likely to be able to navigate the challenges of achieving your new goals.
And while you’re at it, make sure you’re getting proper nutrition. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is a good place to start. Omega 3s have been shown to support brain function. An easy way to supplement your diet is with Juice Plus+ Omega Blend Capsules.
Your third key area to getting organized in 2019 is the easiest and most concrete. Odds are you have a smartphone, and it’ll be your best friend when it comes to getting organized. Beyond the features on the phone itself—like the calendar, notes, and reminders—you have a world of apps and web-based services to choose from.
What’s your goal? Is it getting fit? Meal planning? Being more patient? Shopping smarter? Believe it or not, you can get guidance and tips for all that and more through apps and web subscription services. If you’re like any average American, you already depend on your phone for many parts of your daily life. Why not use it to achieve your goals? Once I got over my initial laziness about downloading apps and using my phone’s features to help me organize my life (e.g., appointments, grocery shopping), I found a whole new world of organization.
One last bit: Goal setting reaps more benefits than you might think. Besides the obvious changes it ushers in, if you stick with it, setting goals can increase your overall wellness.6 Here’s to dedication, achievement, and a healthy lifestyle in 2019!
“Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives.” APA PsycNet. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1968-11263-001
“How Long to Form a Habit?” PsyBlog. https://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php
“Sleep and mental health.” Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health
“Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
“Goal Setting to Promote a Health Lifestyle.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904755/