I awoke this morning with a feeling of excitement at the possibilities that lay before me. The sense that absolutely anything could happen today permeated my being, filling me with an eagerness to jump into the day. There are only two times each year that I definitely feel this way, at the beginning of a new year and in the beginning of September.
The beginning of the year brings a sense that with the passing of the old year, everything is new again and I’m beginning with a clean slate. It’s the same for many people as evidenced by the New Year’s Resolutions made and new diet and exercise programs begun. Then with the beginning of September and the start of a new school year, the unrealized possibilities from January return, fueling my excitement and creativity once again.
So here we are, another January has begun. Have you felt the excitement of all the possibilities this New Year can bring? Have you set any goals? What changes have you determined to make? I’ll share with you one change I’m determined to make. This year, I refuse to give up on my goals. With each passing year, I’m losing valuable time to achieve them. I’m tired of wasting time and then bemoaning that I’m not where I hoped to be at this time last year. I want this year to be different. “That’s great”, you say. “But how will you do this?” My only answer is, by changing the way I approach goal setting.
Every year, millions of us make a New Year’s Resolution. Some of us write down our resolution on a slip of paper, and promptly forget where we put that paper and eventually what our goal was. Some of us just verbalize our resolution or goal, and within a matter of weeks we forget all about it as well. If I continue to treat my goals the same way this year, then I will not achieve them. My method has to change. This year I’ve started out differently, as a result of some strong prompting and encouragement from my family. They wouldn’t allow me to be vague about how I am going to achieve my goal; they made me write it down. That was a good first step for me, but I need to go further.
In case you’re interested and feel like you want to get off the merry-go-round of making goals, giving up on them and making them again the following year, I’ll share with you what I’m going to try. I don’t know for sure if this will work, but I am hopeful. Now that my goal is written down, the next step for me is to look at my time and allocate it in such a way as to improve the odds of achieving that goal. In other words, set a schedule. Again, my family really helped me with this, and as a result my schedule is written down. Now that my schedule is written down, the hard work begins. I need to stick to that schedule. It’s week two and so far, so good. I’m learning to set boundaries and protect the time I’ve set aside for my goal. It’s not easy, but I know that if I don’t prioritize that time, it will get away from me and I’ll never meet my goal.
My next step is to break down my goal into achievement markers. This is where I have made mistakes in the past. For instance, one of my goals is to finish my book by the end of the year. In order to do that, I need to set achievement markers for myself. I’m taking my goal and breaking it up into smaller chunks with intermediate deadlines. So at specific times during the year, I will be taking stock to see how far I’ve gotten toward my overall goal and my intermediate goal. It’s important that we review our goals and take stock of where we are on the timeline to completing it. By reviewing my goals on a regular basis, I’ll be able to recognize what’s working and what isn’t. I’ll be able to make adjustments and corrections so that I stay on track to accomplishing my goals. If I don’t review regularly, it is too easy to fool myself into thinking I’m putting in the time and energy necessary to meet my goals. Then when the deadline arrives, I’m confused as to why I failed. No confusion necessary, I didn’t keep track of my progress, so I failed.
If you’re like me, even if you write them down and plan them out, you’ll forget to look at them again. My solution to this is going to be my smart phone. I’m going to set an alarm to go off on the days when I am supposed to review my achievement markers so that I will remember. On those days I’m going to evaluate what I’ve done so far, where I am on the overall timeline, and write down any corrections or adjustments I need to make. By doing this, I am more likely to be where I want to be at the end of the year. It won’t sneak up on me and catch me by surprise anymore.
So again, here is what I’m going to do in a simplified listing if you’d like to give it a try.
Step one – write down your goal. Be specific.
Step two – set a schedule for how you will work towards that goal. It can be as simple as a daily schedule or as complicated as hour by hour.
Step three – divide your goal up into smaller chunks, then review your goal on a regular basis and make course corrections as needed. Use your smart phone to remind you of review days.
Step four – Goal met! Time to set a new one.
My hope is that by doing these simple things, I will be able to stick with my goals and accomplish them this year. Will it work? I don’t know. However, I do know that if I don’t make changes in how I go about achieving my goals, the result will be just as it’s always been – goal made, goal forgotten, failure. I’m getting off that merry-go-round and trying something that can really make a difference. I hope you’ll join me.