Many of you are probably already thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. Sure, maybe not directly, but they are hiding at the back of your head, now a tad plump and shapeless, but soon they will start transforming into something way more tangible. I have always been more of an out-of-the-blue resolution kind of girl and big deadlines never had that much of an impact on me. But I get it. It is perfectly normal.
But as much as we all love our resolutions, 9 out of 10 times we give up on them in week 2 of January. Shameful, really, as some of them are quite good, right? It just… happens. They vanish. Wouldn’t it be grand though, once, just once, to achieve them all? To prove ourselves worthy?
So here comes one of the important December preps – how do we force ourselves to stick to NY resolutions next month? Because, at the end of the day, it is all about setting reasonable goals; and that needs to be done now, not in 2017.
The number one problem with most goals is that they try to change everything at the same time, preferably right now. We dream big; we want to achieve something exceptional. Well, I have bad news for you. If your NY resolution is to change the world, you probably won’t.
Just think about it – what sort of things do we usually go for? I will be a better person next year. I will become super fit. I will eat healthy. I will change my life (that’s a scary one). These are not reasonable goals. These are abstracts with no real meaning behind them.
So this month, when you are out and about pondering on things you want to change, think small for once. Don’t try to reinvent your life. Imagine something you can actually reach – or at least metaphorically reach.
Instead of thinking that you will get fit, think: I will lose/gain X kg and achieve X% body fat (if that is something you are into). This sort of attitude will give you results. Or at least will let you see IF you achieved what you set yourself out for.
Boil it down to the details
All reasonable goals come with one important thing – an action plan.
Once you do decide on something tangible and real, it is time to think exactly how you are planning on achieving that. You see, winging it does not make things happen. Trust me. I am winging my entire life.
The boiling down to details phrase comes in two parts.
Firstly, you need to decide on mini goals, a set of checkpoints even, that will let you track your progress. Reaching out for a distant goal – even a small one – can be truly disappointing and discouraging at times; it will just feel like you are never going to get there. Having smaller goals in between should help you fight against that particular feeling.
Secondly, deciding on what you are going to do in advance is always a better option. Trust me. Even something as simple as quantifying things – instead of saying I will drink more water, sticking to I will drink 1.5l of water a day – can do miracles. Let alone coming up with plans for how to achieve the goals you are reaching out for!
Give yourself a time frame
Another part of setting realistic goals is, of course, a proper time frame.
Doing something next year is not the way to go about it. At least not for me. I work on a deadline basis – and a deadline cannot be ‘some time in the next 12 months’, no, I will ignore such a deadline with a burning passion.
So ask yourself: realistically when do you want to be able to say your goal has been achieved? What is the done by date for your mini goals and steps? It can be an exact date, or a week at least, but it needs to be quantified. Otherwise all of your hard work will just turn into the sludge of maybe next time.
Find your success measures
Taking about measures of success is the most business-talk like you will ever get out of me – but I just cannot help the fact that Project Managers have pinned this one down the best.
The final vital part of setting reasonable goals is knowing what it means to achieve them. Sure, you want to be a better person next year. But what does it mean? How will you know that you are, indeed, a better person? It’s not like you can survey all your friends or give yourself points… right?
I mean, the points thing is totally doable.
The point is – the only way to know if you have achieved your goal, is to have a set of measures that clearly state so if satisfied. And these measures need to be set in advance and at most slightly modified later based on circumstances. Only this will assure us that we are not just letting ourselves go and giving ourselves a good A for effort.
Sure, some goals are easier to measure than others, but if you followed all the steps so far, you should not be chasing some vague, abstract concepts anyway. There always will be a good way of telling if you have done your job. Otherwise, if nothing changes, what is the point in trying anyway?
Only then can you reach for the stars
A little disclaimer at the end; I felt like I needed one.
This blog post, for someone with her head so far up in the clouds all the time like me, does feel very strict and down-to-earth. Well, to be perfectly honest, that is what it was meant to be. The only way to achieve any goals – unless we take luck into account, but then is it really achieving? – is to take things seriously and be rational about them. But does that mean we cannot dream big anymore?
Not at all.
Of course, it is great to have something to strive for in general. Something we really really want above all else. It is natural. We all need it.
But things like that don’t just happen. All big dreams consist of small ones. All journeys start with one step. Pick any cliché you want. It is just the way the world works and turns and it will probably always work and turn this way too.
Keep your dreams, big, small, silly. But make sure you do something about them. After all, nothing haunts our lives more than an unfulfilled desire, right?
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