Let’s be honest: the middle of January is not great. 

It can feel like a pretty nondescript, monotonous time. After a few months of holiday lights and hustle and bustle, everything goes back to normal. Which, because it’s the middle of January, means it’s dark by 5 p.m. The weather is often pretty bleak. You might be planning a weekend getaway or beach vacation for February, but otherwise you’re probably looking ahead to a long stretch of days in which you’re following the same daily routine. Spring and summer feel far away.  

How About Those New Years Goals?

On top of the post-holiday comedown and the lack of sunlight, the middle of January can also feel like a particularly disheartening time for anyone who set New Year’s resolutions and/or created goals for the year ahead. Of course, some of those folks are thriving right now. They’re two weeks into the year, and they’re still completely committed to those goals. They’re building new time management habits and creating space to incorporate new or more activities that are aligned with those goals into their daily routine. 

But that’s not everyone. A lot of people who started the new year optimistic and excited about their new goals are feeling plain old discouraged by mid-January.  

Maybe they did their daily journal writing or devoted an extra 30 minutes to their side hustle for the first few days of the month, but then life got crazy and those new habits got dropped. Maybe they set broader goals for the year ahead and still haven’t taken any action to achieve those goals. Suddenly, half the first month of the year is already over, and they’re starting to wonder if those goals are realistic. 

Or, maybe they feel so overwhelmed with everything they’re trying to juggle that they haven’t even had a second to think about their goals since New Year’s Day. 

Does any of that sound like what’s going on with you and your goals right now? 

I know this time of year can be tough, for a lot of reasons. Cold weather and lack of sunlight can have a big impact on your mood and mental health. From a time management and productivity perspective, mid-January is also a time when people are really confronted by the logistical challenges of making progress on new goals or resolutions. Your plate is already full. There are already so many things and people (and pets!) that need your attention every day. So you might think about the things you need to do to move forward with those goals you’ve set and think…  where am I supposed to fit this in, on top of everything else?  

But here’s the great news about mid-January:  

It’s still so early in the year. All your goals (and the reasons you chose them) should still be fresh in your mind. Plus, there’s no rule saying you have to make continuous progress on your yearly goals starting on January 1st. If you haven’t yet taken action on some of the things you want to get done this year, you haven’t failed—you just haven’t gotten started yet (in case you need it, here’s my secret to creating goals).  

So if you’ve been beating yourself up for not following through on those goals or New Year’s resolutions you set, I want you to stop and extend yourself a little grace. What I don’t want you to do is get stuck where you are. Because it’s far from too late to get started on creating the life you want this year… but if you don’t take action soon, life will get in the way and those goals will probably end up on the back burner.  

3 Tips to Get Back on Track with Your Goals

(or Get on Track for the First Time!) 

#1:Reconnect with the motivations behind your yearly goals.

The further out you get from setting a goal, the easier it can become to get disconnected from the reason you made that choice in the first place. When you’re tired and your to-do list is already too long, goals like “build my side business by 50 percent” or “learn Italian” might just start to feel like exhausting challenges you set for yourself. It’s easy to forget about the tangible rewards you imagined when choosing those goals. So spend some time reflecting on how thrilling it would be to see your side business grow, or what excites you about being able to speak Italian, or whatever else motivated you to set the goals you did.  

#2:Notice what’s overwhelming you.

Learning how to defeat distractions and overwhelm is a huge part of taking control of your time management, allowing you to create the necessary space for activities that are aligned with your peak priorities. Overwhelm can be crippling in a way that keeps you feeling stuck and unable to move forward with anything—not the ideal state of mind when you’re trying to work toward something new. Pay attention to the thoughts and tasks that trigger feelings of overwhelm in you. Look for patterns so you can see overwhelm coming and prevent it from taking you off-course. 

#3: Break everything down into small pieces.

This ties into the idea of defeating the overwhelm that gets in your way. Big tasks can seem too daunting to even bother starting with, especially if you only have 10 or 15 minutes of free time. Take goals and break them down into steps, then break those steps down into even smaller chunks so you can visualize every single small task that will go into achieving the larger goal. If this feels like too much. Start with the first 3 things you need to do to move forward on your goal and break those into ridiculously small steps. Pick a small task to tackle whenever you have time so you can create some momentum.  

Never Underestimate The Power of Support!

It’s important in every area of your life, including time management and productivity. These are challenges that a lot of people grapple with and they can be easier to navigate with help.  

If you’re ready to dive more deeply into actions that will help you move forward and create the New Year you want, I’m here to offer my support. Come to my no-cost training, 5 Steps to Bust Through Procrastination and Overwhelm, and start your New Year strong. This training is happening at 1 pm ET on 1/18. Click here to register even if you can’t make the live session and you’ll get access to the recording.  

Happy New Year! 

Sarah 

Sarah Reiff-Hekking
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