Most people have a love-hate relationship with goals. We love them because they are such a great idea and a wonderful way to motivate us to achieve and evaluate our progress. Many people are also frustrated and hate their goals when they do not attain them. This isn’t what goals should do!
So as we begin this New Year, I’m sharing simple ways to set goals for achievement! After all, what good is a goal if it isn’t something you achieve? Here are ten simple steps you can take to make sure you see change in your life this year.
1. Narrow your focus.
That’s right, start small. Pick two or three areas 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 on a couple key goals. This way you can have some victory in these areas. Here are some areas to think about: physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, financial, and relational.
What areas need work? 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.
2. 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. Think about losing five pounds by February 1st. This does two things. First, it creates urgency. Instead of blowing it and saying, “Oh well, I still have 12 months to lose the 75 pounds,” (because eventually that becomes two months to lose 75 pounds) your goal is only a few weeks out. This timeframe is better in terms of reaching your goal. Second, as you reach these shorter goals, it gives you consistent victories instead of regular progress. Progress feels good, but achieving a goal is awesome!
3. Reward yourself when you achieve the goal.
When you lose five pounds by February 1st, go get yourself a grande 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 can look forward to the reward and when the going gets tough, say to yourself, “Two more weeks, two more pounds, then…”
4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Instead of saying, “I’m going to quit my three-pack a day smoking habit cold turkey,” say “I’m 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.”
5. 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.” When you’re tempted in the ice cream aisle in the middle of February, you can say, “Nope, only ten more pounds to go in a month and a half and I am not going to blow it.”
6. 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 steak at lunch or dinner, you’ll already have reminders from earlier that day to help you order something a little more on the lighter side. These reminders will help you beat your desire.
7. 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 you’re doing. They must be the encouraging type, though. If you’re blowing it, they can say, “Well, that’s okay, get back to it tomorrow.” If you’re doing well, they can say, “Awesome job. I’ll talk to you next week.” You will look forward to their weekly encouragement.
8. Find a partner.
Find someone who is trying to accomplish the same thing (or something different if need be). Just make sure that she really wants to change, or she’ll end up just bellyaching about how hard it is and you’ll both fall into the abyss.
9. Write down a list of all of the benefits that will come if you accomplish your goal.
If your goal is to lose weight, your list of benefits might be something like this: Feel better, have better self-esteem, live a longer life, clothes will fit more comfortably, won’t have to sew popped buttons, wife will say you look 22 again, etc.
If your goal is to quit smoking, your list might look like this: Have better smelling breath, no more brown fingers, create less wrinkles on my face, no more red eyes, clothes will not be smelly, live a longer life, wife won’t make me spend two hours a day on the back porch, etc. This process will help you see what benefits you’ll have from accomplishing your resolution.
10. Plan a reward if you accomplish your resolution.
It can be anything from small to large. If you drop twenty pounds, go out for dinner and dessert. Then get back to losing the next 20 pounds. If your goal is to quit 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!
That’s it. I truly believe that it can be that simple for you.