As the door closes on yet another year you are always compelled to make the next one better. You’ll resolve to exercise more, eat better, begin a meditation practice, or enjoy more time with family. Yet these resolutions fall flat after just a few weeks, only for you to resort to your usual habits and nothing actually changes. Getting clear on your new years goals will ensure your achievement.
When it comes to setting goals, here are a few things to consider when designing your intention for the year to come. Envision yourself at the end – understanding the emotions, the sacrifice, and most importantly the real reason why you wanted to get started is the first phase to creating change. In fact, rather than a resolution, consider this time the beginning of a journey.
Begin with the end in mind
As with any journey you must understand exactly where you want to go. As the late Stephen Covey says, “begin with the end in mind.” The journey starts with your vision – imagining what your life will look like at completion of the journey. Spend some time reflecting on your achievement. Grab a pen and paper and have the courage to be completely honest when writing down the answer to these questions:
How do you feel when your journey is complete? What emotions do you feel – satisfaction? relief? excitement? fulfillment? pleasure? accomplishment?
What did you have to change in your life to accomplish the journey? If so, what changes need to be made?
What did you have to sacrifice anything?
Why was completing this journey so important to you?
Who supported you through the process?
Outlining the steps
The next part is a little easier. Since you’ve already visualized how your journey will end, now is the time to write down the steps to get there (hint, hint – you may need to brainstorm a little). One hint that makes this process more enjoyable is to focus on what you will do, rather than what you will not do (“I will spend 10 minutes daily meditating” rather than “I will stop playing on Facebook so much”). This provides you with the positivity needed to successfully move in the right direction.
- Get very specific about what you want. Rather than saying you want to ‘eat healthier,’ hone in on exactly what you mean. Define the precise things you want to focus on to develop new habits. Do you want to dine at home 6 nights/week, eat 4 vegetable servings daily, eliminate snacking before bed, eat 100% gluten free? Outline 2-3 things you will focus on to specify your exact goal.
- Identify your exact steps to move in the direction you want. If you desire to exercise more, do you need a good pair of shoes? Are you joining a gym? If so, which one have you decided upon? What times are the classes you will be attending? If you are exercising from home, what times of the day work best for you? Which days will you (or not) be able to exercise. You must get specific about the precise steps you need to move forward.
- Create space. As part of your goal setting process, decide how you will carve out space daily to accomplish your goals. Consider time wasted on unproductive activities such as social media, surfing the internet, or vegging in front of the tube. You may have to wake up a little earlier or say no to committing to things that are not moving you toward your purpose. Creating the daily space will ensure you are real about your intentions.
- Create mini-goals. Goals that feel too far from where you currently are quickly lose their appeal. Break down your larger objective into smaller mini goals. They can be daily, weekly, or monthly. Then you can focus on meeting a more attainable goal. They should be challenging, but on the direct path to your larger plan.
- Develop a game plan. Write your goals and mini-goals and their specific details and keep them in a place where you can see them regularly. Get creative-use pictures and positive words, and tell the people close to you. This will be beneficial in keeping you accountable.
- Be flexible. Use your goal to guide you, but be open to new paths toward your intention. Obstacles and detours are a natural part of change and provide important learning opportunities. When you are patient and gentle with yourself, you’ll discover creative solutions that help you grow beyond anything you could have imagined. Planning for these obstacles are vital to ensure continued success just when things could take you off of the path.
Who do you call upon to keep you accountable?
How do you “get back in the saddle” if you fall off?
What will it cost you if you don’t follow through with the journey you’ve envisioned?
This new year is an open slate. You can create and mold it into whatever you want it to be. This exercise will set you up for success in the year to come. Each time you drift away, come back to your answers as a reminder of who you want to be when this year is all said and done. Remember there’s no right or wrong way to accomplish your goal. The only way you can fail is if you give up. Take the time to design your plan, and then execute it, and you will feel like you can conquer anything.