Ahh, it's that time of year.... Where many of us are inspired (or feel guilted) to come up with our new year's resolutions. What goals do we want to achieve this year? What have we been putting off that now seems like the appropriate time to tackle? A new calendar year feels like a blank slate. A fresh start. And well with a very challenging year in the rearview mirror, now seems like as good of a time as any to commit to something.
Unfortunately most people can come up with that list of a few goals/resolutions, but they don't always see them to fruition. We have all done it and it can be frustrating and discouraging. So rather than write a blog about how to set goals, I want to talk about how to actually achieve them!
I will use a couple of example resolutions to illustrate my point here. One will be fitness/health related (probably the most popular category), and the other will be financial (another area of focus for many). As a side note: I will use the terms goals and resolutions interchangeably; they are one in the same IMO.
Okay, so you have identified your resolution(s) for 2021. Now what?! In order to set yourself up for success in achieving them, each resolution should include the following:
Specific timeframe with checkpoints at no longer than 7 day intervals; I will refer to these as micro goals
A maintenance plan
A reward :)
Okay, so let's first talk about a specific timeframe (key word being specific). For example, if you want to compete in a race, choose the date of the race and write it down. Now work backwards on your plan and establish micro goals. If this is your resolution, you are in luck because you can find many plans and schedules out there for running a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, etc. A simple google search can sometimes be overwhelming so I also recommend asking someone you know who is a runner or has completed a similar goal, what plan they used and get their feedback on it.
Next, get a calendar or use your phone calendar and schedule your training runs. Don't leave it up to chance - planning ahead will give you a better chance of completing them than say "waiting until you feel like it." Literally plan each and every day. As someone who has ran many races, I found that when I planned the training runs a week or two out, I was much more likely to do them than if I just said "okay, I gotta run twice this week" and figuring it out as the week went along.
For the financial one, maybe your goal is to start a new savings account. Ask yourself how much you want to save and by when. Maybe it is $10,000 by the end of the year. Is that realistic for you? Review your income each month and how much you can consistently afford to put in this account. Then you can arrive at a realistic number that you could have in the account in 12 months. Also think of other potential revenue streams that you could create that could contribute to the account. Of course there are people out there who specialize in financial planning, so you could always go that route to get assistance in creating a plan. And if you have a similar goal to this, I highly recommend setting up an auto draft from your checking account or paycheck each month. Out of sight, out of mind and you aren't tempted to not contribute. Again, the key here is to break the goal down to each paycheck so you are setting yourself up to achieve it.
Okay, so you have your resolution and you have established checkpoints and micro goals to ensure you stay on track. Now, let's add a layer of accountability. Who have you told about your goal? People who write down their resolutions and goals and share them with someone else are much more likely to achieve them. A lot of people like to put it out there to the social media networks. The bonus there is that you gain a great support system and may motivate and inspire others with your posts. Maybe it is a little too personal to put out on Facebook. Look to your friends, family, co-workers, etc and find someone you can trust to hold you accountable. Tell them how you want to be held accountable. Is it a quick text to check in occasionally? A phone call to discuss? Are you providing a progress report to them? It's important that you don't just say "Hold me accountable." Explain how you want to be held accountable to ensure you don't get off track.
Depending on what your resolution is, you may need a maintenance plan once you achieve it - in particular for people who have set a goal to lose weight. You don't reach the goal line and then revert back to old habits. Often people can work hard and achieve a weight loss goal, but in order to maintain it, you must create a lifestyle change. You can even set future goals that tie back to your original goal.
For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds by May 1, decide that once you hit that goal, you will sign up for a 5K in September and then start training for that. The more your goals are dependent on each other, the more likely you will stay on track and focus on your progress. Take a look at your list of resolutions and goals. Will you need a plan in place to maintain them? If so, write that down and make it part of your plan as well.
And finally, a reward! :) Decide how you want to celebrate your accomplishment. It should be something that motivates you and inspires you to continue progressing towards your goal.
Now go set some goals, plan them out, and CRUSH them! You got this!!