This is an article I wrote in my journalism days, about how to actually achieve your goals for the new year. I use this info often – and it works! So, with best wishes for goal-setting success, I thought I would pass it along…
We all set goals for ourselves. Sometimes it’s at the holidays, or around a birthday, or at the start of a new venture. We make promises to ourselves about how this year will be different than the years before it. How we will be different. Every year, 100 million Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. And 92% of them never reach their goals. But that doesn’t have to be you. There are simple steps you can take to ensure that you keep your promises.
Goals come in all shapes and sizes, but the most popular ones are losing weight, working out more, spending more time with friends and family, getting organized, and sticking to a budget. Those are all achievable goals, so why do so many of us fail? Why do we make the same promises to ourselves every year, and never fulfill them? The biggest reason is that most of us don’t understand how to use our own minds to help us get what we want.
In order to achieve success, we need to become so comfortable with our goals – to see ourselves reaching them so clearly – that it would seem strange to fail. Our plans need to be so concrete for us, that they are no longer optional. So, how do we do that?
There are four things you need to reach any goal: Focus, Accountability, Persistence and Integrity. Let’s explore how each of these traits can be applied…
Focus. To make a goal into a reality, we must be able to picture achieving that goal with razor-sharp clarity. Instead of just listing your resolutions, make a separate sheet of paper to make a ‘plan’ for achieving each one. What steps will you take? Who will help you? What will you do if you get off track? How long will it take to reach the goal? What will it feel like when you do achieve it? The more specific you can be, the better. Then, attack your goals individually, focusing on the steps necessary for each.
Accountability. You shouldn’t have to do this alone. Find a friend or partner to help. It’s important to have someone to share your successes, monitor your progress, encourage you during the tough times, and hold you accountable for reaching your goal. You and your partner don’t have to have the same goals – you just need to be willing to be invested in each other’s success. Try having weekly meetings to update each other on your progress.
Persistence. If reaching your goals were easy, you wouldn’t have to set them. Accept that this is going to be hard work, but worth it in the end. Vow to yourself that you will persist until you reach your goals. If you stray from your plan, forgive yourself, and get back on track. It may take time – but every step you take toward your goal is doing something good for yourself. Celebrate the small victories.
Integrity. Your success will be determined by your level of commitment. Choose the things you want to achieve. Then commit to doing it. You take pride in honoring your promises to other people; now do the same for yourself. Invest yourself in making a change, and follow through.
It’s worth mentioning a few things that will derail your progress. Here are some common mistakes, and how to avoid them:
Setting too many goals. Changing your behavior is hard work. Pick just 2-3 changes to make this year. You need to be able to concentrate (Focus) on each one individually, and not stress yourself out by juggling too many goals.
Keeping your goals to yourself. This shouldn’t be a secret. Tell your friends and family about the changes you are planning to make. Enlist their support and assistance in keeping you on track. (Accountability) Letting them in on your plans will make it easier on you by allowing your loved ones to help you avoid temptation and offer you encouragement.
Not writing your goals down. Don’t try to juggle your goals in your head. Write them down. Then post them somewhere you will see them often. Set aside a few minutes each day to review your goals (Persistence) and check your progress. It’s easier to make adjustments if you catch yourself getting off track early.
Not personalizing your goals. Don’t agree to make changes that other people want to see you make, pick things that are important to you. You must know how these changes will enrich your life in order to achieve them – reaching your goals must be important you. (Integrity)
Start thinking about the changes you want to make. With proper planning, anything is possible.