New year, new energy: opportunities, excitement and change. And goals...
Ahhhhh, goal setting. I could give you the whole spiel of why you should be setting goals in order to create change in 2015 but I suspect you’ve already heard it before so instead I’m sharing some suggestion to make you actually stick to those goals. Because few of us have a problem making declarations of intent and all too many of us struggle with make those a reality. And besides, there is a bunch of brilliant goal setting systems already out there (skim to the bottom for my faves).
But before we get started, please do yourself a favour and cut the number of goals you have in mind in half. Focus hurts so good. If you're human then you’ll probably have trouble sticking with more than 3 goals, big or small, each year. Plus, this leaves room wriggle room for changes in plan and...well, life. Personally, I'm sticking to one or two goals because I find that any more can be overwhelming, unrealistic and limiting. But just a few that you follow through with is golden. So without further ado...
4 tips to make your goals a reality:
1. Plan. Do. Review.
This probably isn’t news to you but the best it’s essential that you write down your plans if you want to follow through. Write them in a journal, at the front of your new diary, wherever but keep another brief copy somewhere that you’ll see them everyday: on a Post It note above your desk or even on the outside of of your shower screen.
And of course, you’ve gotta act in a way that furthers your progress. Make your goals incremental so that they measure effort not outcomes e.g. heading to the gym 3 times a week is better than aiming to lose 5kg because figures like this are usually aribtrary and even if you miss that target you have still committed and made progress. This feels much more achievable and is a day-by-day approach.
Track them. Don’t just write your goals down once - keep a record of progress even if its just creating a chart on the wall where you can cross off all the glasses of water you drank that day. If you are on a deadline and realise that you are behind schedule, seeing exactly where you are at can give you the motivation for that final push or highlight where you need to be making changes.
2. Have a default response
Don’t leave room for “maybe’s” or “just one slice” or “I’ll see if I can fit it in”. Prepare a clear and fast response so that when an unplanned proposition, opportunity or temptation presents itself you don’t have to give it any thought, you won’t self-sabotage or compromise your goals. Keep it sweet and neat. A few examples:
When offered cake/alcohol/bread etc: “Oh no, I’m good thank you. I’ve actually decided desert isn’t in my best interest but I had my fill from the main. It was delicious by the way!” Honesty is the best policy but steer clear of discussing torture.
Or if you need to say no to someone: “Gosh, that sounds like such an awesome thing to be doing! Kudos to you. And thanks for thinking of me, but I’m just not available/taking on new projects right now because I’m channelling all my energy into [insert activity/intention/current focus or passion]. .I aim do give 100% to everything I do so I wouldn’t be doing either of us justice. Best of luck, though!"
A few pointers here: start with gratitude, don’t ask for pity and keep it positive (albeit human), say it with conviction - you don’t want to encourage deliberation - and end by moving the convocation on.
3. Set half goals.
Do half the work ahead of time so that the effort involved in actually getting the work done is that much less. I like to think of half goals like the enzymes that reduce the activation energy needed to start a reaction! If you’re extra brainy you’ll figure out a way to make it the easy/default option, e.g. by setting out your workout gear the night before and you’re already halfway there and have made choosing another outfit look like more hard work. Other ideas include prepping meals and snacks, filling your water bottle and putting it in your bag in the evening, or clearing your desk at the end of the day so that it is ready for you in the morning.
4. Set a time frame.
Ever set a goal and given yourself a year to do it, only to realise at the end of the year that you never even did it? Focus is vital here and short timelines help hone that focus. Short goals - up to 60 days - keep thing manageable and will actually get you going. This ties up with tracking your goals too: even if you have a larger overarching goal for the year, set smaller targets for each month.
Louise Androlia recently shared this on her Facebook page:
This really struck a cord with me because so often we set goals from a really negative place and then act surprised when they don’t fall into our lap. But that’s just not how things work. If you focus on all that you despise then you’ll likely attract more of it. Focus on the the good and all of the sudden Life feels like less of a struggle and fight. I am in no way dismissing hardships or whether you did indeed have a pretty shitty year. I’m just suggesting that we start 2015 on a good note. And with that in mind, I want to point out two other essentials for joyous goal pursuit (and life in general)...
Gratitude + Compassion
Gratitude is a really powerful practice and can turn a frown upside-down (man, I love that phrase!). But it is at it’s most powerful when you dig deep and get specific on the one or two things that you are truly grateful for. Rather than just listing off your gratitde for your family’s support try pinpoint a couple of specific things or moments that fill you with joy and gratitude, like a good giggle with your sister. It’s also helpful to avoid listing the same things everyday. What about the moment that it stopped raining when you left the house this morning? Or the fact that even though you might be stuck in traffic, you actually have somewhere to go - somewhere that you are wanted and needed?
Gratitude is best expressed daily but an end of year reflection is also a brilliant way to put your year in perspective. What did you learn in 2014? What will you now do differently in 2015?
And let’s not forget that you actually made it to the end of the year, which means that whether you meant to or not you definitely learnt something along the way. Show yourself some compassion and heart but being kind enough not to berate yourself for you failures or misses but use them instead as points of insight as you turn your gaze to the new year.
Tool Belt Essentials:
All you really need is a pen and paper to heart-storm your goals and plans, but whilst everything else is optional its always nice to make a little ritual of it and, of course, buy some new stationary ;)
My favourite ways to plan for the new year include two fabulous tools: Susannah Conway’s Unravelling 2015 workbook and Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map. Unravelling 2015 is a FREE workweek that you can download from Susannah’s website and is a beautifully simple and reflective way to conclude the year that way and plan for the next. The Desire Map is a game-changing motivational manifesto and guidebook for setting 'goals with soul’. Go buy yourself a copy!
Ok, let's hear it: what are you dreaming and scheming for 2015? Any tricks up your sleeve to make 'em happen? Share in the comments!
Wishing you the most beautiful year ahead!