As we approach the middle of February, you may have realized that your resolutions you made at the beginning of the year (if you made any) have mostly fallen by the wayside. Congratulations! You’re normal, just like the rest of us. Don’t feel bad. Resolutions don’t tend to work because we set our sights too high and have trouble following through when we don’t see immediate results that encourage us to keep going. And we lead such busy lives that when we stretch too far to set a resolutions, it often isn’t sustainable within the context of our daily schedules.
So now it’s time to get real about setting your actual goals for 2018. There’s still plenty of time to start them and accomplish them if you start now. A goal is a long-term plan that includes an end point and stops along the way to check in. It is usually set by thinking about where we are now and where we would like to be with a completion date. It also is a very specific and measurable proposition that you can use to determine your progress along the way. It may involve a gradual lifestyle change or finishing a project you’ve been putting off but really want to do or even a self-development plan.
The best way to set a goal is to start at the accomplishment of it and work backwards to today. Choose one goal at a time and envision it exactly so you can decide specifically what you would like to be, have, or do once you are finished. Detail is important here because it allows you to see all the steps along the way more clearly.
Once you have your goal in mind, break it down into its smallest parts and sub-parts. Breaking it down will allow you to map out each step you will need to make and also make a larger goal feel less overwhelming. It will also allow you to see where to begin. I suggest beginning in the area where you have the most excitement because passion is a great motivator for the rest of the goal. This also makes it feel more possible to achieve.
After you have broken the main goal down into smaller goals and steps along the way, you can more easily plan out what you will do and place them on the timeline you will plan to follow. Having a timeline is a big step towards accountability to yourself and accomplishing your ultimate goal. It allows you to check in and measure how far you have come at several points along the way. Make sure, however, that your expectations of yourself are actually achievable in the amount of time you have given yourself, because setting your sights too high is a great way to get discouraged and throw the whole thing out.
Once you’ve set your goal and your timeline, find an accountability partner. This is someone you will tell about your goal and all of the steps. This is someone who will encourage you when you’re feeling down and also push you when you slack off. Maybe you could do the same for them. Your accountability partner is someone you plan to check in with regularly and who is interested in helping you complete your goal. Use this person to help you throughout the process.
The final step in goal-setting is to make sure you reward yourself once your goal is accomplished. There must be a way to mark your end point, and it is important to celebrate all of your hard work. You deserve it!
*One final note about setting goals: Sometimes when we’ve embarked on a journey to complete a goal, especially a big one, we find that something has changed. It could be that we want something differently than before or that the goal simply doesn’t fit the lifestyle we want to be in now. It may be time to set a new goal or simply make a course correction. This is where a good accountability partner can be invaluable. They can help you ascertain if you are giving up too easily or pushing too hard in the wrong direction, neither of which is good. And remember, find a good coach if you’re having trouble setting, meeting, or being accountable to your goals. Someone with your best interests at heart is the best accountability partner you can find!