Lots of folks set New Year’s resolutions every year … and we seriously mean to keep those goals when we set them. But unfortunately, most of these goals are as solid as smoke. Regular gym users know that their athletic facility will be bursting with new members in January. By February the equipment will be much more available and by March the new members will only be a memory. Yes, goals are always for the purpose of improving our lives, but the ‘follow through’ is often unpleasant and our determination falters in the face of completing activities that we don’t really enjoy. But yet, many people DO achieve their objectives so how can we join that select group? Here are five notions about goals that might help us all to improve.
Setting goals always begins with the idea of realism. How many times have you read advice to "be realistic"? Yes, that’s true – up to a point. No amount of goal setting will make me president of the United States tomorrow (thank heavens!!!) But often we can’t see the "how to" of a goal and so we don’t even try and that can be a shame. We may settle for a life we don’t really want just because our heart’s desire seems unattainable. Going for goals, then, isn’t as easy as it seems. Reality yes, but don’t weigh yourself down with doubts and hopelessness.
Create an accountable plan. Vaguely wishing for something isn’t a plan and you need to break your goals down into smaller steps that include deadlines. If you have a plan to have cleaned your closet by this Friday – and nothing happens to ensure this cleanliness – then it’s time for some soul searching. Breaking down a long-term goal into small steps make its achievement much more likely. Smart goals aren’t accidental.
If your goal has no deadline then you’ll just keep putting it off. If you want to know how to achieve your goals, you’re going to have to set a date by which you want to meet all of them. We all know things may eventually change, but setting a date in the first place is the best way to make sure you put in some real effort.
Although it sounds obvious, a goal will never become a reality unless you take action. So many of us make that New Year’s resolution every January and then watch our desire fade away into nothingness. Don’t let this happen to you! Start working on your goals immediately, even if you’re only taking small steps to make them happen.
Flexibility is a ‘must’. No matter how intense our desire or how skilled our plan, life offers frequent surprises. Setting goals requires a certain objectivity and distance. If we didn’t achieve what we planned by noon this Friday, despair of ever reaching our goal is an immature reaction. Keep yourself accountable by taking an honest look at how you’re doing to meet your broken-down steps, and change the way you do things if you think it’ll help. Realize that everyone does slip up from time to time and life isn’t predictable!
No matter how many New Year’s resolutions you’ve created – and abandoned – make 2011 different. Choose one, or possibly two, goals and create your plan, then work that plan. Failure has an energy so don’t let it hook you this year.