This can be the most important day of your month

As the new year gets underway, many of us may be finding our ambitious resolutions hard to keep. How do we stay accountable to ourselves? How do we not get discouraged with setbacks?

On the most recent episode of podcast “Call Your Girlfriend,” human rights technologist Sabrina Hersi Issa shared her solution on how not to succumb to the anxiety of getting your goals done in the first month of the year, while still staying accountable to personal progress.

Issa’s pro-tip: Take a personal inventory day each month

Instead of forcing a big goal into an arbitrary deadline like a New Year’s resolution, Issa suggests making goal-setting a part of your everyday lifestyle. “If your dreams are important to you, don’t disrespect them by cramming them into arbitrary new year’s resolutions or birthday deadlines,” Issa says.

To make her “possibility model,” where big goals can be executed successfully, Issa explains, she needed to set up “systems and infrastructures in my life to support my ambitions.”

Issa does this by scheduling a monthly personal inventory day “dedicated to my personal life maintenance” like credit reports, doctors’ appointments, and goal planning. Issa sets hers for the day her birthday occurs, the 16th of every month.

Here’s how to make the most out of your personal day:

  • Write it down. “Take stock of what you want for yourself, get really honest with yourself, for yourself, and no one else,” Issa recommends. “Be unapologetically focused on what your needs are and write it down. Write down your goals, make a plan, and then put it somewhere accessible you can easily pull up and reference in the future.” Issa uses a private Google document attached to a link.
  • If you find yourself staring at a blank page, here are prompts Issa suggests you can ask yourself each month: What did I learn this month? What surprised me and why? What am I grateful for? Who am I grateful for?
  • Practice gratitude. This is the day that Issa writes gratitude notes. Multiple studies back up  how practicing regular gratitude can boost our well-being and improve our moods by rewiring our anxious brains to pay attention to everyday joys.

After enough time passes, Issa says, you should have lots of tracking data to review what you’ve learned so far, what are the moments each week that are sparking your curiosity, and where you need to improve.

The bottom line

“For me, it allowed me to see what I was doing out of obligation or because I thought I should versus what I actually wanted to myself,” Issa says. “It allows me to free up the brain space I used to spend irrationally worrying. And now I get to reinvest that into time that I can make memories with my family and friends with.”