Goals. Most people have a love-hate relationship with goals. They love them because they are such a great idea and a wonderful way to motivate us to achieve, as well as evaluate our progress, but hate them because for many, they more often than not go unattained and simply frustrate them. This isn’t what goals should do!
So I thought as we begin this New Year, I would give us some simple ways to set goals so that we achieve them! After all, what good is a goal if it isn’t something you achieve? Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure that you see change in your life this year.
Narrow your focus. That’s right, start small. Pick two or three areas tops, that you want to work on. Too many people say to themselves, “I want to do this, and this, and this, and this……” and they end up doing nothing! Most of what you do throughout your day can be done without a lot of mental or emotional exertion, but change isn’t one of them. So focus down to a couple. This way you can get some victory in these areas. Here are some areas to think about: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial, and Relational. What areas need some work? Now, what one thing should be the first item on the change list? The others will come later, but for now, you should focus on two or three total.
Keep the long-term in mind, but set your sights on achieving your goals in the short-term. Do you want to lose 75 pounds? Good. Long-term you will. But for now, think short-term. Don’t think about losing 75 pound by summer 2000. Think about losing 5 pounds by February 1st. This does two things. First, It makes it urgent. Instead of blowing it and saying, “Oh well, I still have 17 months to lose the 75 pounds” (because eventually that becomes 2 months to lose 75 pounds) your goal is only a few weeks out. This is better in terms of reaching your goal. Secondly, as you reach these shorter goals, it gives you regular victories instead of regular progress. Progress feels good, but achieving a goal is awesome!
Reward yourself when you achieve the goal. When you lose the 5 pounds by February 1st, go get yourself a grande whole-milk mocha. But just one! Then get back to your goal for March 1st. This puts a little fun back into the process of self-control and self-discipline. You will look forward to the reward and when the going gets tough, you will say, “two more weeks, two more pounds, then…”
That’s it. I truly believe that it can be that simple for you.This adds some ideas to the above article.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Instead of saying, “I am going to quit my three pack a day habit cold turkey,” say “I am going to drop to a pack and a half a day.”
You can always make new resolutions when you have achieved the first ones. Give yourself small victories a little at a time. Instead of saying “I am going to lose 75 pounds,” say “I am going to lose 20 pounds.”
- Be specific in your timeline. Don’t just say, “I am going to lose 20 pounds.” Say, “I am going to lose 20 pounds by April 1st.” This way, when you start to be tempted in the ice cream aisle in the middle of February, you can say, “Nope, only 10 more pounds to go in a month and a half and I am not going to blow it.”
- Post your resolutions where you will see them every day. This will keep the resolution in the front of your mind at all times. Instead of forgetting that you are trying to lose weight and ordering a big, thick porterhouse, you will have been reminded earlier that day that you need to go with something a little more on the lighter side. It will help your will beat your desire.
- Find an encouraging person, who you respect, to keep you accountable. This person should ask you, at an interval established by the both of you, how it is going. They must be the encouraging type, though. If you are blowing it, they can say, “Well, that’s okay, get back to it tomorrow.” If you are doing well, they can say, “Awesome job. I’ll talk to you next week.” You will look forward to their weekly encouragement.
- Find a partner. That’s right, someone who is trying to accomplish the same thing (or something different if need be). Just make sure that they really want to change, or they will end up just bellyaching about how hard it is and you will both fall into the abyss.
- Write down a list of all of the benefits that will come if you accomplish this. If it is losing weight it might be something like this: Feel better, better self-esteem, longer life, clothes are more comfortable, no more time spent sewing on popped buttons, wife says you look 22 again, etc. If it is quitting smoking, it may look like this: Better breath, no more brown fingers, no more wrinkles on my face, no more red eyes, no more smelly clothes, longer life, wife don’t make me spend two hours a day on the back porch, etc. This will help you see what you will get from accomplishing your resolution.
- Plan a reward if you accomplish your resolution. It can be anything from small to large. If you drop the twenty pounds, go out for dinner and dessert. Then get back to lose the next 20. If it is quitting smoking, go on a mini-vacation. Whatever you do, reward yourself. Or let a spouse or a friend pick the reward. Then splurge and enjoy!