Ever hear of the saying, “Out with the old, and in with the new” ? Most of us, at one time or another, have said this to ourselves when the prospect of a new year approaches. Media, among others, tout the importance of New Year Resolutions, and how this year is going to be different. This year is going to be the year where we finally stick to goals and change bad habits. I am a proponent for all things positive, and I believe that we all have the best intentions for reaching our goals for the new year.
Why is it then, that we often times find ourselves tempted to stray from our goals? Sometimes, we even quit flat out. We end up feeling like failures, and are faced with the fact that this year, “our year”, was the same as last year.
I believe that this pattern can be broken by goal setting. It seems like we all know how to set goals, but it may require a lot more than putting a goal in mind and just going for it. Various marketing and psychological research has been done to help individuals, groups, and even companies set goals the proper way, so that they are executed in a timely, and effective manner.
In an effort to condense these findings, I will provide a guideline for goal setting so that this year, “our year”, can be one that we are proud of.
Set a Goal
- Make sure goal is specific, quantitative, and realistic (ex. lose 5 lbs. in 2 weeks, or complete at 1 chapter of my book each day of the week for 7 days)
- Make a funnel type of graph (biggest opening at the top, smallest opening at the bottom) to place larger goals at the top of the funnel, and work towards the smaller end of the funnel with more specific goals.
- Make sure the goals are challenging enough so you feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion
- Make sure there are time limits set for your goals. This will hold you accountable.
Create an Action Plan for each Goal
- In addition to making the goal specific, quantitative, and realistic, make sure you have a way to operationalize it.
- What steps will you make to ensure that your goal is easily achievable?
- Set aside time to see how you can do something everyday to get you closer to the goal
- Do you find that there are many steps required to achieve the goal? Consider that each step is actually a smaller more achievable goal hidden in a goal that is too large. Break it down some more.
- In order to stay committed to your goal, ensure you have supports in place (ex. gym trainer, workout buddy, friends, family, professors, advisors etc)
- Make sure to communicate regularly with your support system to prevent discouragement and short cuts, and to increase positivity and self-worth
- Make sure that you ask for feedback from your support system so that you stay on track, stay positive, and make changes to your goals that can increase effectiveness and motivation
- Use visual aids or motivators (ex. dream board, sticky notes on mirror, reminders on phone, planners, planned phone calls/texts with support system etc.)
- Chart your progress. Ensure that you structure when you check your progress, so that you have benchmarks (ex. every two weeks, once a month, every three months etc.). This will help you stay motivated.
Note: This guideline is a basic framework to facilitate success in reaching your goals. Feel free to add or amend as you see fit.
In conclusion, if we make it a habit to break down our goals and operationalize it, we will soon find that we are achieving what we set out to do, and the year that we’ve been waiting for, “our year”, may actually be this year. Good luck everyone!
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