It's that time of year when we can’t help but reflect and ask ourselves the common questions: “what’s working?” “what’s not?” “how can I do better?” “What’s really important to me?” Then come all the lists. But even though we’re quick jot them down—in notebooks, in note-taking apps, on the back of napkins, in texts with our squad, or at the very least, etched into the scratchpad of our subconscious—why does it sometimes seem like we're starting at the same resolutions year after year? Wouldn't it be nice if 2016 were the year we permanently hacked a recurring few bullet points off of our “New Year’s Bucket List”?

For the inspirational kick in the pants leggings we all need, we took a moment to sit down with the ultra-inspiring NYC-based Lifestyle and Career Coach, Harper Spero , who's pioneered a form of one-on-one coaching that's geared to drive people in the direction of their dreams. Read on to hear her advice on setting goals, making habits stick, finding a balance, self acceptance, and so much more.

Bandier: What’s the most common “New Year's resolution” that you hear?

Harper: The most common New Year’s resolution is definitely people wanting to lose weight. All gyms  and fitness studios see a drastic difference between the number of people who sign up for membership in January and then the major decline in February – people are setting unrealistic goals for themselves.

I’ve also found that many people want to find a new job in the new year. I’ve had several people over the past few months tell me that they’ll focus on it in 2016 and I question them on why they’re waiting until then. They often don’t have a ‘good’ answer – it’s laziness and/or easier in their mind to stay in their comfort zone even if they’re miserable in their current situation.

Bandier: What’s the most effective way of setting goals? Are goals the way to go?

Harper: I think goal setting is extremely effective and important. In order to set and achieve goals it’s important to follow three major steps:

1) Ensure your goals are tangible and realistic. If you come up with something that is too out of the box and you’re never going to execute it – you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

2) Determine a deadline so it’s not open-ended and you really stick to it.

3) Accountability is key. Hire a coach, find a friend or use an App (like the soon to launch mobile app for personal growth, Sparkite ) to hold you accountable. Having a reminder that you need to achieve a goal by a certain time will keep you on track.

Bandier: There’s a lot of wisdom about habits - how to make them, how to break them - what’s some generalized wisdom on habits? How do you feel about them?

Harper: I’m a big fan of habits and getting into a routine. Even as an entrepreneur, I find it’s important to create a sense of structure around my day and week. Going to bed around the same time each night, waking up around the same time each morning allows you to be well-rested and ready for the upcoming day. Making self-care a habit is extremely important because it allows you to be more balanced, mindful, alert and at-ease throughout your day. Self-care for me is Transcendental Meditation twice a day for twenty minutes, yoga, healthy eating and overall being more conscious of my minute-to-minute, compared to the autopilot life I used to live.

Bandier: What are some good questions for people to ask themselves when wanting to make a change or improve their lives?

Harper: If money didn't exist, what would your life look like? How can you make that possible knowing that you need to have some income in order to survive?

What can you do today that will change your life tomorrow? (This can be a baby step – it’s still a step!)

What are you tolerating in your life?

Are the people you’re surrounding yourself with inspiring, motivating and constantly challenging you or are they completely draining you?

Bandier: What’s a really good gift that you can give yourself that doesn’t cost any money?

Harper: The best gift you can give yourself is self acceptance. We’re all so caught up in what other people think about us and we spend so much time judging ourselves. Spend more time focusing on all of your amazing qualities, let go of the little things, trust your gut and know that your uniqueness is what the world wants from you.

Bandier: Technology. When to use it? When to lose it?

Harper: Many of us spend a lot of time behind a computer throughout the workday, then switch over to our phones. I always encourage people to think (and remind myself!) what’s the worst thing that can happen if we don't look at our phones for a period of time? Is life going to come to an end if we don't constantly hit refresh on our email?

One of the biggest challenges with technology is that it’s detaching people from being in the present moment. When you’re with friends and loved ones, be present – get off your phone. Nobody wants to be around people who are constantly scrolling through their phones because it’s showing that you’re really not the priority.

It’s important to unwind before you head to sleep. Get off your phone and computer at least an hour before you go to sleep – read a book, write or just be.  

Bandier: What does “balance” mean to you? What advice do you give to people searching for it?

Harper: Balance has taken on a whole new meaning for me in the past few years because it’s definitely something I didn't have for a long time. Balance is having the ideal amount of all things that make you happy, fulfilled and whole in your life. If you’re looking to create more balance in your life – evaluate what you’re spending the most time doing and what you’re spending the least amount of time doing. Which is most valuable to you? How does it serve and benefit you? Where can you cut back on things that you don't enjoy and drain you and where can you add more things that light you up? Do more of that!

Bandier: Do you have any tips/tricks for motivating yourself when you’re really feeling down?

Harper: When you’re in a funk – it’s helpful to change your environment. I find it beneficial to go for a walk and get air, head to the mat for a yoga class or meditate. Each of these things can be quite rejuvenating and get you into a motivated state. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling – and learn to let it go.

Bandier: What are some of your favorite inspirational texts?

Harper: One of my favorite quotes ever is “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn  This one has always stuck with me because it took me many years to realize that what I put into my body, how I treated my body and felt about my body would forever be with me. Without my body, I’d be nothing so it’s important to treat it well.

My mom gave me the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz when I was in college and it’s been my favorite personal development book since. It’s not overly spiritual and something that I believe can be applied to anyone living any type of lifestyle.

There’s an incredible book called Don't Call Me Inspirational by Harilyn Rousso.  It’s a memoir written by a disabled feminist about her journey. There’s a short chapter on page 26 called Home that’s all about feeling safe, at-east and comfortable in your home and really making it your sanctuary. I loved it so much that I had my best friend who has unique handwriting write it out for me to frame in my bedroom. 

Like what you read? For more daily doses of inspiration from Harper, you can follow her on Instagram + Twitter

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