If goal setting is not a strength, how do you learn to create and achieve successful goals? That is a common question, in January, when folks make their New Year resolutions. Unfortunately, we typically are not taught, in school, how to build strategic plans, or how to set goals and turn them into achievements. It is something that a person learns through hands-on experience, often by trial and error; or at work; or through books, online surfing, hobbies, sports, friends, and family members. I have learned how to keep resolutions, achieve goals, and do strategic planning, both in my personal and professional life, through all of those methods and then some.
If you are serious about making and keeping a New Year resolution, or learning how to achieve goals, the first step is to open your mind and believe that you can learn ‘how’ if you so choose. The second step is to make a firm ‘decision to go for it’. The third step is to build a plan and ‘take daily action’, so that you can learn the ‘how to’s’ of successful goal setting. It is important, at the outset, to be realistic about your expectations.
Start with a small goal. Say you want to improve your life through exercise, a better diet and a more professional wardrobe. All of those goals can be intertwined to promote a healthier, happier life. It is difficult to make major change in one area of life, let alone three, so tackle the challenge one major goal at a time. If you pursue one goal, and achieve it, success breeds success. That one successful goal can build the confidence and motivation that will enable you to tackle the next goal and then the next. In this case, if you exercise, you will feel great, build muscle, improve muscle tone, and over time, you will probably lose some weight and buy some new clothes. You are feeling good physically, so you begin eating healthier foods. Your self esteem is bolstered and you dream new dreams and tackle new challenges. All three goals – exercise, diet, and wardrobe – are intertwined and can work together to promote health and happiness. But first you have to identify and focus on one goal about which you have great interest and passion and take action! That one goal, and that one first step, will get the ball rolling in the right direction: momentum and achievement.
If you are not an experienced goal setter – one who can build and launch multiple action plans at once – it is important is to pick just one area of your life and focus your full attention on that area, exercise for instance. Begin with baby steps, maybe 20-minutes of walking each day, or 20-minutes of stretching and Yoga. Make a point to head outdoors and walk some new routes, or hit your Yoga mat – every day, or every other day. Schedule your exercise at lunch, or in the evening, or early in the morning – whatever works best for you and your lifestyle. Give it some thought and pencil ‘exercise’ into your calendar the same way you schedule other important appointments. At the same time, do your homework. What other types of exercise do you enjoy? Visit a bookstore, or the Public Library. Maybe you would like to start a swimming program. Find pools that fit your budget that are near your home. Education is power in goal setting. Arm yourself with knowledge and Identify your strengths and the things that you enjoy, then play to those strengths and make time for activities that bring reward and happiness to your life every day, so they become permanent habits that you crave.
The one thing I have learned, personally, about exercise, is that it must be convenient. I have indoor and outdoor bikes, a Total Gym, a large garden, opportunities to walk, a Yoga mat, and an outdoor pool. I also had a health club membership at a club near my house that I rarely used. Why? It is more convenient and enjoyable for me to exercise at home. I joined the club to use the pool, and guess what? I didn’t swim much in the winter, so I dropped the membership and pursued other ways to get my daily dose. If exercise is your goal, it is important to find ways to make it convenient, fun and rewarding. If you want to build a small home gym, do your homework. There are many inexpensive, effective options if you arm yourself with facts about all that is available.
Bottom line: If you are an inexperienced goal setter and you want to make a New Year resolution, start small with one resolution that really interests you. Just one resolution at a time. Build a plan that answers the ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ of achievement, and includes deadlines, and specific daily tasks. Don’t expect overnight results, or immediate success. Achieving dreams, resolutions and goals takes hard work, sacrifice, passion, patience, incredible desire, and daily action. Be kind to yourself. Don’t give up if you encounter obstacles, or get overwhelmed when life’s pressures force you miss a few days with your resolution. Be committed enough to begin again – and do it, don’t give up. Once you regain momentum, you will be inspired, you will want to exercise, or pursue your dream of choice. You will enjoy one success after another like climbing stairs to the stars – if you stick with it! Achievement, whether via exercise, writing, or any one of an infinite number of rewarding activities, can bring health and happiness to your life . . . but you have to make time in your day, and put in the effort one small step at a time, one day at a time, to reap all the wonderful benefits.
Remember: I Resolve To . . . Achieve My New Year Resolutions, One Resolution, One Day At A Time For One Year. It’s your choice. Do it today. Turn your resolution into reality in five simple, common sense steps: Dare To Dream, Decide, Define, Develop A Plan, and Do It Daily. Make your resolution a permanent Lifetime Resolution, something that’s with you for good! Above all, Be A Resolutionista, someone who makes resolutions, keeps resolutions, and enjoys the journey! Let’s Go For It!