The start of the year is an amazing time to reset and clear space in your life.

That doesn’t necessarily mean an elaborate set of New Year’s resolutions, smart goals, and vision boards – even though all three methodologies serve many of us quite well.

Our expert contributor, Jim Kwik, is the founder of Kwik Learning and a world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance, and accelerated learning. In this monthly column, he shares a simple framework packed with critical advice to help you vet, set and accomplish your goals more quickly and easily in 2017.

Happy New Year!

For me, the old is the new new. It comes down to fundamentals, and fundamentals are key when working out your body. Success relies on certain principles: there’s a science to building your body, building energy and building your health. There is also a science to setting goals. Goals become magnetic when you make goals that make sense to your head, resonate with your heart, and can be pursued by action with your hands.

1. Transcend your mental limitations

I’m committed to helping people upgrade their brain because we live in the millennium of the mind. You have genius inside of you. Do not allow anyone to say otherwise. Be extremely kind with yourself and monitor your self-talk – because when you say you’re not good enough, or you’re not smart enough, or you’re too old, your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk. You want to kill those ANTs, those automatic negative thoughts. You must squelch your inner critic because that’s what’s keeping you from transcending. As you dedicate your life to improving your fitness, to acquiring more energy, more vitality, and health – it’s truly about transcending.

What I mean by transcending is that it is about ending the trance. Ending the trance that you’re not good enough. Ending the trance that you’re not smart enough, that you’re not strong enough, ending the trance that you have all these limitations. If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them. Instead, do the opposite and stand up for yourself. Stand up for the genius that lives inside of you. You have superpowers beyond belief. Make the decision to go for your potential and flip that switch.

2. Set goals from the heart

We all have goals, and millions of Americans set new goals on January 1st – whether that’s to save the world, get in shape, or just leave the office on time to see your family. How do you achieve those goals? Many of us have been told the key is setting SMART goals.

What are SMART goals? Let me refresh your memory.

  • Specific. Your goal should be well-defined. Don’t say you want to be rich; say you want to make a certain amount of money.
  • Measurable. If you can’t measure your goal, you can’t manage it. Getting fit isn’t measurable – running a six-minute mile is.
  • Actionable. You wouldn’t drive to a new town without asking for directions. Develop the action steps to achieve your goal.
  • Realistic. If you’re living in your parents’ basement, it’s hard to become a millionaire. Your goals should challenge and stretch you, but not so much that you give up on them.
  • Time-based. Ever heard the phrase, “A goal is a dream with a deadline?” Setting a time to complete your goal makes you that much more likely to reach it.

So, what’s the problem? Many of us set great goals, but not enough of us get them. That’s where my new framework comes in. To get your goals out of your head and into your hands, make sure they fit with your emotions – with your HEART.

  • Healthy. How can you make sure your goals support your greater well-being? Your goals should contribute to both your physical and emotional health.
  • Enduring. Your goals should be sustainable. They should change you over time, as you build your future self and life.
  • Alluring. You shouldn’t have to push yourself to work on your goals. They should be so exciting, enticing, and engaging that you’re pulled toward them.
  • Relevant. Don’t set a goal without knowing why you’re setting it. Ideally, your goals should relate to a challenge you’re having or your core values.
  • Truth. Don’t set a goal just because your neighbor is doing it. Make sure your goal is something you want, something that remains true to you. If your goal isn’t true to you, you’re far more likely to procrastinate and sabotage yourself.

3. Hands on tiny habits

When we talk about supervillains in our lives, one of the biggest is that people feel overwhelmed. Overwhelm is self-perpetuating, and when you’re overwhelmed, you typically aren’t taking care of yourself. You’re not making time to go to the gym because you’re so stressed – although ironically, if you did, you would feel less stress and have more energy and vitality to do the things you need to. The world’s top performers schedule their downtime and consciously make time to improve themselves. Part of that is exercising both your body and your mind.

An excellent way to defeat overwhelm is by putting your hands on small practices that put you in the territory of your goal. B. J. Fogg of Stanford University is the foremost behavioral change expert. He created a concept called “tiny habits.” Tiny habits are those small actions where if you want to do something like floss your teeth, and you just can’t get yourself in that habit, you should just floss one tooth. Just floss one tooth and he promises you’ll do the second one, and the third one, and the fourth. I have found this to work with my students too.

One of the most highly desired knowledge goals is to read more books. Instead of getting caught up on the idea of reading a whole book, (and/or all the reasons you will procrastinate and end up not reading the book), simply read one sentence every single day. Pick a book and just read one sentence, and I promise you you’ll read the second sentence. Create positive tiny habits. Break your goal down into the part that you can and will do, and do that. It’s a simple way to overcome procrastination.

4. Empower your yes

A lot of people over-commit by saying “yes” to everything. When you say “yes” to everything, you de facto say “no” to everything. This is the big challenge. So take time and create your own personal “not-to-do” list. For example, I don’t check e-mail or social media during the first couple hours of the day. This is a choice for me; I don’t do it because it puts me in a reactive mode. We’re addicted to all of these dopamine fixes through likes and comments and shares, etc.—it uses up way too much of my mental energy that I prefer to save for important work and decisions that move my mission forward. I want to have the energy to be able to do these things. Saying no is important, and my personal filter system for doing something is whether or not it touches me in my heart. If I feel very passionate about it, I’ll say “yes.” But if I don’t feel that ‘juice,’ I’ll say “no.” This allows me to save my time and energy for the things that matter the most.

Evaluate your 2017 goals, making sure you have removed any mental blocks to achieve them. Make sure they are heart goals that you truly want to realize. Next, begin to work on them actively with tiny habits that supercharge your most valuable assets — your brain and your body. Lastly, you must make space for your goals, and that requires clear boundaries of what you will do and what you won’t do in your life.

These are the key steps to achieve superhuman results in your life, which is really what a new year’s resolution is all about. Knowledge is power, and learning is your superpower. You can learn anything that you need to learn in order to achieve the goals you wish for your life. I love being around people who want to improve not only their body but also their mind, and I think that our lives grow as we grow in those specific areas.

There are so many opportunities to be able to learn and to be able to take things to the next level. Best of luck for an amazing 2017.

Photo credit: Adobe, tashatuvango.