Those close to me know that my thing isn’t New Year’s resolutions, its setting goals. Your goals don’t have to be decided on January first; too much hype. On New Year’s Day we are all excited about the new year and we think about ALL the things we think we can accomplish or change in the next 364 days. We are off work and we aren’t thinking right about how many hours in the day there are. However, goals should be written by the end of the first week of January. This will allow for the hype and excitement of the new year to settle down a little bit and you can think of your goals in the reality of going back to work and school.
So, here we are at the end of the first week. What do you want to change or accomplish in 2010? You may not want to change anything, simply grow in an area of your life. I am a true believer of being a life-long learner. Among other things, I always add a goal that will provide for me an opportunity to learn. Maybe you would like to learn to sew or ballroom dance. Whatever it is, even if you are not sure how you will accomplish it, write it down.
After you have made your list of potential goals, review your list and choose the top four things that you believe to be specific, measurable and possible. Writing your goals down makes them real. Picture the accomplishment as you write.
Generally, after I’ve written my goals, I use January to develop my plan. I never rush in to get started. Pace yourself so you don’t fizzle out. Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions (goals) have been forgotten by February first. You’ve got your written goals, take time in January to find out how to accomplish them. How will you fit into your normal routine this goal or the activities that will lead to its accomplishment? Will you need to take a class? Do you need to find a book on a subject? If your goal is to exercise more, find the activity or activities that you enjoy that will help you accomplish that goal. What exercise can you do when it’s cold and you are stuck inside? What exercise can you do outside when the weather is warmer? Take a week or so and really figure out how you will accomplish the goal.
THEN by the last week of January or early February start working toward that goal. By waiting and getting the information you need you will incorporate the goal into your regular weekly schedule. Having a new activity or a revitalized old activity or goal will give newness to February (a typically dreary month).
Around July fourth, pull out your written goals and review them. Are these still goals you want to accomplish? Has one risen above the rest and is taking more time? Use July as a reboot to your desire to accomplish something in the year. My birthday is in May, that’s when I review things.
I have written my goals for years. I have several categories: physical, spiritual, financial and personal. Some years I accomplish one thing in one category. That’s more than I might have had I not written anything down. There have been years when I simply transferred goals from one year to the next after reviewing and renewing my interest in them. Other years, I’ve accomplished more than 90% of what I had written. Whether the goal is accomplished or moved into the next year, by writing them down, the awareness of the goal becomes real.
I could go on and explain to you how to look at your goal and break it down into smaller pieces and set benchmarks, but you can ask Steve Covey about all that. Today, I encourage you to write it down, figure out how to get it done, and go after it!
Achieving goals isn’t rocket science, it’s about dedication and a little discipline and sometimes being uncomfortable for your own betterment.
Last year it wasn’t my own accomplishment that I was in awe, it was that of my older sister. She gave up smoking. She had smoked the better part of her adult life and admitted that it was an addictive behavior. I don’t exactly know what made her decide that it was time, but she made the decision and committed herself to the effort. It wasn’t easy. She struggled. We celebrated milestones with her of 30, 60 and 90 days. Then it was 100 days. After that in our minds, she was a non-smoker. Along the way she shared with me some of the challenges both emotional and physical in giving up the habit. She struggled when she walked past someone smoking. She missed the activity of smoking. But she stayed the course. Yes, she gained some weight, so she started walking in the evenings and cycling.
Her goal of giving up one bad habit led her to choose a healthier activity. Gail, I am so very proud of you.
One of my goals last year was to have something published. I didn’t. But during the course of the year and working to improve my writing, I found the NANOWRIMO (www.nanowrimo.org) world wide challenge to write 50,000 words (or a novel) in one month. I took the challenge with the support of my husband and son. In 28 days, I wrote 50,798 words! And I finished a rough draft of my first novel. I wrote on average 1,700 words a day. Yes, I gave up some TV time and spent a few lunch hours writing. But I did something that others only talk about and something I’ve wanted to do all my life. It was a big deal to me. But it wasn’t what I started out to do. If I hadn’t been focused on the goal of bettering my writing, I would not have come across the NANOWRIMO challenge.
You may journey toward one goal only to find yourself accomplishing something else. That’s great too. Do you get my point here? Be encouraged to not just float through life saying “someday I will…” and never get around to it. We can blame work or busyness on not accomplishing goals. Take charge of your time; carve out time to do something that will better you or your life.
Let me know how it goes.
All the best,