So, how are you coming on those New Year’s resolutions? It’s only the beginning of March, and honestly, I don’t even remember what mine were. Having this depressing revelation the other day, I realized I need to be more deliberate about my goals. I am pretty concrete when it comes to deciding them off the bat. I usually give it plenty of thought, or it’s something that I have been needing to do all year and am finally willing to commit to the change. But, weeks later I slip back into my old habits and the inspiring ideas and motivation I had at the end of December are packed away like the Christmas decorations, safe in storage until I have to think about them again next year.
Even if they are not written down, we generally have several goals going on simultaneously (or we know in the back of our heads that we should be doing these things anyway). Most of them can fit into one of the general categories: health; family; finances; career; education; attitude; or hobbies and entertainment. I have found that I need to expand and improve all of these areas of my life to stay balanced and continue to grow. This is all well and good, but where does one start, and what separates an organized person or family from the ones that appear to run around with constant stress, drama, and no defined direction?
1. Take a moment and think about your goals.
What do you want to achieve, or what is a passion you’d like to pursue? Are there things in life that you once enjoyed that have taken a back seat due to time, money, or possibly the critical words of others or even from yourself? If you could change one thing about yourself instantly, what would it be? Sit down and decide what goals you want to focus on, what are you feeling lead to accomplish, what areas need improvement, and how your time will best be spent. Really think about where you want to be in the future and what you need to change now to get there.
2. Banish negative talk, and believe you can achieve your goals.
After you have decided what you want to accomplish, every morning when you wake up make a positive statement that you can do what you are setting out to do. When the pessimistic thoughts try to break through telling you, “You’ll never be able to do this,” or “What were you thinking starting this now?” do not let them take hold. If you make a mistake, keep pressing forward. You can make the change, and today is a new day. The mere fact that you are pursuing this dream shows that you are further along than you were before.
3. Break down your goals into manageable tasks.
What can you start doing today that will bring you closer to your ultimate objective? These may be as simple as skipping that doughnut in the break room, finally signing up for guitar lessons, or blocking out 30 minutes a few nights a week to play catch with the kids. Nothing is going to change overnight, but the longer we wait to start, the longer it will be before we see our dreams come to pass. All of us have to start somewhere and if we can break down what may seem impossible to smaller tasks, we can have the satisfaction of little achievements, and see our progress towards a better life.
4. Chart your progress and set a time limit.
There are many ways we can keep track of our forward movement. Some of the very analytical people may set up Excel sheets or graphs to easily view how things are going. Others may prefer using an app on their phone to quickly log milestones, journal information relevant to the goal, and connect with other users. And who doesn’t like the teacher method of listing out the steps and receiving a sticker or star next to the item when the task is complete? From simple check lists to full blown color charts, I find this step very important to sticking to my goals. If I cannot see immediate, physical results from what I am doing, I need to be reminded how far I have come, as well as keep focused on where I’m heading.
5. Reward yourself.
No one said that working towards and achieving our goals would be easy. Yes, we are all adults and the plain satisfaction of completing an aspiration should be enough motivation to continue on, but let’s face it; we are all going to have days when the end seems far away and disappointment and distraction can quickly set in getting us off course. In conjunction with tracking success, we need to reward ourselves for the accomplishments along the way. One of my current goals is to cook more often in order to improve my ability, save money, and spend more time at home. If I do cook and we eat at home every night during the week, to give myself a break and as an extra bonus, we go out to eat over the weekend. If your goal is centered on weight loss and you lose 10 pounds, celebrate your hard work and go shopping; if it is to save money to take a family vacation and you stick to the plan, use a little bit of the budget to buy items for the trip at the end of the month. The possibilities are endless, find what motivates you and create an incentive to help make the process fun and manageable, you deserve it.
Keep your desires at the forefront of your thinking and remember why you wanted to start this process in the first place. Stay positive, document your advancements, and enjoy this time of growth. Before you know it you’ll be looking back at how far you’ve come, excited for new opportunities, and setting higher goals for the future.
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