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Why I Start the New Year in February

Why I Start the New Year in February


    I’ve written about my idea of starting the new year off in February before here at Lifehack, but I only touched on some of the more obtuse reasons why it’s an ideal time to do so. This time around, I want to focus on the more practical reasons behind why I make the second month of the year my starting point…and why you should consider it too.

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    1. February is closer to tax time

    In the United States (and in Canada, for that matter), April is the time of year where we have to deal with taxes. By starting off the new year in February, you’re through the rush (and imminent hangover) that accompanies the tail end of the year and are fresh and ready to take on the undertaking of getting everything ready to go. Plus, it’s more at front of mind because any holiday credit card bills will have already arrived and any uncertainty left over from December and the start of January will have been dealt with by the time February 1st rolls around.

    2. Starting in February opens up July, August, December and January as vacation months

    Think about it. Those who take on new activities in January (thanks to those ever-present new year’s resolutions) start off the new year with less actual energy than those who hold off until February. They are still wiped from the events of the previous month. But if you give yourself that extra month (January) to wind up your year, you actually free it up for downtime. That also means you can afford to (both mentally and emotionally) take time off in December and enjoy the holidays without worrying about all the work that January is going to bring. You also give yourself a six-month buffer between thee winter months and summer months (in the northern hemisphere, that is). So as the kids leave school at the end of June, you’re not feeling like you need that mid-year break right away (you know, that break you don’t really get). Instead, you can ease into summer and take your mid-year break in the heart of the hottest months of the year.

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    3. Starting in February allows for gearing up for September

    Since starting the new year in February shifts your start date by an entire month, it makes the start of the school year (September) that much closer to the midway point. Rather than have it start of the final third of the year, it is positioned sooner and allows you to have that break in the middle of the year to reconnect and refocus just as September begins. This is great for parents who often look at September as another start to the year (renowned author of The Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin views September as the start of her year, for example), and if you don’t have children yet but are looking to do so down the road then you’re putting yourself in a great place to deal with thee month by making the halfway mark of your year now.

    4. February is a shorter month

    When we make any sort of resolution or start a new habit, we want to stick with it for as long as possible in order to give ourselves a greater chance of success. Often we will use the start of a month to start those efforts, and the beginning of the year is no different — except when you make February the beginning of the year. Since February is the shortest month, you’ll have less days in succession to concern yourself with. So that means you’ll be able to see the end of the cycle that much sooner come into play — and it may very well mean that you can continue to keep the momentum going into March and beyond.

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    The bottom line is that you can really start the new year you want anytime you want. The calendar is just more of a road-map than a rule. And the thing about a road-map is that it gives you many ways to get to where you want to go. I choose to take one of the roads with less traffic.

    Which road do you take…and why? Let me know in the comments below.

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    Photo: “February” courtesy of Shutterstock.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on June 3, 2020

    How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

    How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

    Everyone needs a goal. Whether it’s in a business context or for personal development, having goals help you strive towards something you want to accomplish. It prevents you from wandering around aimlessly without a purpose.

    But there are good ways to write goals and there are bad ways. If you want to ensure you’re doing the former, keep reading to find out how a SMART goals template can help you with it.

    The following video is a summary of how you can write SMART goals effectively:

    What Are SMART Goals?

    SMART Goals

    refer to a way of writing down goals that follow a specific criteria. The earliest known use of the term was by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, however, it is often associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept.[1]

    SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. There are other variations where certain letters stand for other things such as “achievable” instead of attainable, and “realistic” instead of relevant.

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    What separates a SMART goal from a non-SMART goal is that, while a non-SMART goal can be vague and ill-defined, a SMART goal is actionable and can get you results. It sets you up for success and gives you a clear focus to work towards.

    And with SMART goals comes a SMART goals template. So, how do you write according to this template?

    How to Write Smart Goals Using a SMART Goals Template

    For every idea or desire to come to fruition, it needs a plan in place to make it happen. And to get started on a plan, you need to set a goal for it.

    The beauty of writing goals according to a SMART goals template is that it can be applied to your personal or professional life.

    If it’s your job to establish goals for your team, then you know you have a lot of responsibility weighing on your shoulders. The outcome of whether or not your team accomplishes what’s expected of them can be hugely dependant on the goals you set for them. So, naturally, you want to get it right.

    On a personal level, setting goals for yourself is easy, but actually following through with them is the tricky part. According to a study by Mark Murphy about goal setting, participants who vividly described their goals were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully achieve their goals.[2] Which goes to show that if you’re clear about your goals, you can have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

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    Adhering to a SMART goals template can help you with writing clear goals. So, without further ado, here’s how to write SMART goals with a SMART goals template:

    Specific

    First and foremost, your goal has to be specific. Be as clear and concise as possible because whether it’s your team or yourself, whoever has to carry out the objective needs to be able to determine exactly what it is they are required to do.

    To ensure your goal is as specific as it can be, consider the Ws:

    • Who = who is involved in executing this goal?
    • What = what exactly do I want to accomplish?
    • Where = if there’s a fixed location, where will it happen?
    • When = when should it be done by? (more on deadline under “time-bound”)
    • Why = why do I want to achieve this?

    Measurable

    The only way to know whether or not your goal was successful is to ensure it is measurable. Adding numbers to a goal can help you or your team weigh up whether or not expectations were met and the outcome was triumphant.

    For example, “Go to the gym twice a week for the next six months” is a stronger goal to strive for than simply, “Go to the gym more often”.

    Setting milestone throughout your process can also help you to reassess progress as you go along.

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    Attainable

    The next important thing to keep in mind when using a SMART goals template is to ensure your goal is attainable. It’s great to have big dreams but you want your goals to be within the realms of possibility, so that you have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

    But that doesn’t mean your goal shouldn’t be challenging. You want your goal to be achievable while at the same time test your skills.

    Relevant

    For obvious reasons, your goal has to be relevant. It has to align with business objectives or with your personal aspirations or else, what’s the point of doing it?

    A SMART goal needs to be applicable and important to you, your team, or your overall business agenda. It needs to be able to steer you forward and motivate you to achieve it, which it can if it holds purpose to something you believe in.

    Time-Bound

    The last factor of the SMART goals template is time-bound (also known as “timely”). Your goal needs a deadline, because without one, it’s less likely to be accomplished.

    A deadline provides a sense of urgency that can motivate you or your team to strive towards the end. The amount of time you allocate should be realistic. Don’t give yourself—or your team—only one week if it takes three weeks to actually complete it. You want to set a challenge but you don’t want to risk over stress or burn out.

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    Benefits of Using a SMART Goals Template

    Writing your goals following a SMART goals template provides you with a clearer focus. It communicates what the goal needs to achieve without any fuss.

    With a clear aim, it can give you a better idea of what success is supposed to look like. It also makes it easier to monitor progress, so you’re aware whether or not you’re on the right path.

    It can also make it easier to identify bottlenecks or missed targets while you’re delivering the goal. This gives you enough time to rectify any problems so you can get back on track.

    The Bottom Line

    Writing goals is seemingly not a difficult thing to do. However, if you want it to be as effective as it can be, then there’s more to it than meets the eye.

    By following a SMART goals template, you can establish a more concrete foundation of goal setting. It will ensure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—attributes that cover the necessities of an effectively written goal.

    More Tips About Goals Setting

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

    Reference

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