I love setting goals at the start of a new year. The feeling of a fresh beginning gives me the urge to plan and dream a little. It’s a blank slate just waiting for me to write some plans and dreams on!
I’ve been setting goals since I was a teeny tiny girl. Seriously, my dad had us all sit down and write out goals at the beginning of every year. I really wonder what my goals were as a 6 year old? Probably don’t argue with my brother. And I probably failed. Anyway…
Goals are simply a way of identifying where you want to go in life and then taking specific measurable steps to make sure you get there.
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
I don’t feel like all my goals have to be set in stone by January 1st. In fact, I tend to take a couple of weeks in January to work on them.
But this week. Oh yes! I’m putting all of my thinking from the past few weeks on paper and am writing out my goals.
Here are a few guidelines to think about as you set your own goals.
Everyone is different and it’s important to know your own tendencies so you can set realistic goals that will inspire you throughout the year.
Most of us fall somewhere within these two extremes:
Dreamers: This is the classic over-achiever. Dreaming is good. Very good. But if you lean toward the extreme end of this, you may set goals that are so far out of the reach that you will give up after just a couple of weeks because it was too unrealistic.
Doubters: On the other end you have the classic doubter. “I will never be able to do that.” And so you set no goals at all. Or your “goals” are simply what you would normally do anyway and they don’t really stretch you.
Goals are meant to be a little out of reach. That’s what makes us work and improve to be able to reach them.
Knowing where you tend to fall within these two extremes will help you set good goals. You may need to rein yourself in a bit. Not set goals that are so far out of reach that you end up giving up altogether. Or, you may need to get a little braver and set a goal that seems out of your comfort zone because you tend to always play it safe.
Keep in mind that we can have different tendencies for different things. For instance, you may lean toward the doubter end for fitness type goals, and the dreamer end for social goals.
One of the classic mistakes when setting goals is not being specific enough. If one of your goals is to spend more one-on-one time with your children, it is not enough to simply state that as a goal. It is too vague to really help you.
Setting the goal of having a once-a-month outing with each child alone is specific and measurable making it a lot easier to follow through.
Instead of saying you want to exercise more, you may have the goal of running a 5k. Instead of simply saying you want to read more, have a goal to read a specific number of books. You are much more likely to succeed if you make your goals specific.
Identify Potential Roadblocks
Write down any possible roadblocks you might have to reaching your goal. This is really important because it will help you avoid derailment before you actually get there.
This past year I was hoping to run a 5k. I completely failed on this goal because I failed to figure out a solution to a huge roadblock. I have 3 kids, a husband that is extremely busy, and no treadmill at home. In other words, finding a way to get out and run just didn’t happen.
Had I thought this problem through ahead of time, I could have come up with either a different goal, or figured out a plan that would actually work with my routine. In stead, each week I felt bad about only getting out to run once instead of 3 times or whatever I happened to do. (Working on a plan for this year right now!)
If you are dieting think ahead about specific events (birthdays, parties, etc.) that could derail you and plan your escape. If you are wanting to get up early, think through things that might make you lose your resolve and have your answers ready ahead of time so you don’t succumb to the temptation of staying in bed “just a few more minutes.”
Say “No” to Something Else
This concept is something I have been increasingly learning the older I get. Adding goals is a good thing, but if you have an already too full life, you are setting yourself up for failure before you even get started. Look through your schedule and determine if there is something that needs to be limited or cut out completely to make room for a new goal.
If you want to read more, you may need to cut out a TV show you normally watch.
If you want to volunteer more at church, you may need to volunteer less at your kids’ school (or vice versa).
If you have the goal of saving money for a summer vacation, you may need to eat out less.
If you want to exercise more you may need to socialize less (or find a way to combine it by exercising with someone so you kill two birds with one stone).
Writing out not only your intended goals, but also the things you are going to say “no” to in order to meet those goals will give you a lot more momentum and success.
Know your own tendencies, be specific, identify roadblocks, and say “no” to some other things in your life, and you will be much more likely to finish out 2013 having actually met your goals!
I’m looking forward to a great year. I’ll be sharing some of my goals for 2013 later this week, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments!
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~C.S. Lewis
Are you a goal setter? What are you best tips for setting realistic goals?
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