It’s that time of year again – the time to set lofty goals that we are all inspired to achieve for about a month and then forget about until this time comes again next year. New Year’s brings with it the desire to make ourselves better people, but let’s face it: Goal setting hard is tough and becoming better people takes time that we just don’t have in our busy days. Right?
Wrong. The thing is, while we have been taught how to set these goals, and that we should set them, we are given little instruction on the steps it takes to actually achieve them. Achieving an attainable goal should only take a little bit of your time every day, but it is something you have to dedicate yourself to daily in order to achieve it. The steps to achieve this goal must become a habit, not a chore. So how do you do this? I’m here to explain it all to you.
1. Set the goal.
What is it you really want to achieve this year? What passion do you have that gets you really excited? Where do you see yourself being really happy? Nothing here is off limits. Nothing is unattainable. Think about where you would like to be a year from now and…
2. Write it down.
A goal in your head is erased as soon as a new thought enters, such as what you’re going to eat for dinner. Write down your goal and put it in a place you’ll see it every day, such as your bathroom mirror. It should be something you see every morning so you remember to focus on it, and every evening so you can evaluate what you did that day to attain your goal and how much closer you are to achieving it.
3. Make the steps to achieve your goal.
A goal without a plain to attain it is as useful as box of cake mix with no other ingredients. Sure, it should make a cake, but without the eggs and oil, you’re basically stuck just dreaming about that delicious dessert sitting in your pantry, waiting to be made. Set a timeline for your goal, and then write out all the little goals you have to achieve in order to make this big goal happen.
For example, if you want to lose 50lbs, just getting a gym membership and buying some celery isn’t going to make that happen. Set aside time each day for a workout – better yet, mark the time on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself to make this happen. Look up healthy recipes and make a list of what you’re going to eat each day. Keep a food journal. And then set timely goals for each month. By the end of month 2, you want 10lbs lost. Focus on this smaller goal that will lead up to the bigger one, and by this time next year, you’ll be 50lbs smaller and all the happier.
This process applies to every goal you may set, not just losing weight. Set aside time each day to make it happen, and set smaller goals along the way that will help you reach your big goal. How much money do you have to save a month to save a $1,000 by the end of the year? How much money should you pay on that loan each month to have it paid off? How many times should you call your sister a month to be on good speaking terms? Slowly pull back on the number of drinks you have a week or cigarettes you smoke a day so that they are nonexistent in your life by the end of the year. Set a day each month to volunteer so you are the volunteer of the year by December. Make the third Saturday every month the day you try something new, like sky diving, so by the end of the year you’ve tried 12 new crazy things you never thought you’d do. Start planning your trip to Italy now, and each month set a goal that you want to attain to make it closer to that trip: Save $1,000; get in touch with a travel agent; buy a fancy new dress you’ll only wear when you’re being serenaded on a gondola. Whatever the goal is, set the steps you need to attain it.
4. Evaluate as you go.
Don’t wait until December to discover that you have or haven’t attained this goal. Watch your progress as you go. Now that you have daily, weekly, and monthly stepping stones put in place for the year, you are able to see if you are on the right track to achieve your resolution, or if you need to set more attainable goals, work harder, or change another habit that’s getting in your way. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. If you haven’t made one stepping stone, that’s fine. It’ll be a bit of a leap to the next one, but you can still make it across the river.
Don’t give up! By this time next year, you’re going to be so excited that you don’t have to set the same New Year’s resolution again.