2018 is almost gone and a new year is almost here. I don't know about you but at the end of the year, I like to take time to reflect on all that has happened. There are good times and bad times. All of them have a meaning in our lives and give us experiences that help us deal with the future. This is also the time to set new goals and intentions for the new year.
What do I want to achieve this year? What do I want to continue doing? What do I want to stop doing? So many opportunities to make changes it can be overwhelming. That is why most goals at the beginning of the year fail. We take on too much and try to change too many things all at once. This can lead to feelings of frustration and simply giving up on our new goals.
Below are 5 steps to creating goals that are achievable.
#1 Do not have more than 5 goals to achieve in one year.
Even this may be too much! The key is to have few goals that you can achieve. Quality over quantity will definitely make the difference. Here is how you do it. Sit in a quiet space and write down all of the things you want to work on in the new year. This is the unlimited list! Write down 100 things if you want. Maybe you want to journal, make intentions, learn how to cook, start an exercise program, do more yoga - the list can go on and on and on. Below is an example:
Now, take the list and combine all of the things you want to do into groups of similar activities. For example, doing more yoga and starting an exercise routine are physical activities. So they should be in one group. Doing this helps to narrow your focus on goals. Below is an example of all of the things I wrote down and how I organized it into groups.
What is very clear now is I have 4 specific goals that are broad enough for me to achieve. My previous list is organized into the goals and become the activities I can do to achieve the goal. By organizing my goals this way I can use the activities on the list or find a different activity to achieve the goal. This creates flexibility which allows you to stay on track and not feel bad about not doing more yoga if you discover HIIT classes are really what motivates you to focus on your health.
#2 Create checkpoints throughout the year.
I like to keep my goals posted somewhere that I can see them everyday. Maybe that is on my computer screen, maybe it is on my phone. I just want to see them everyday. How I am achieve the goals does not happen daily. That would be too much detail that I simply don't have time for. Instead, I take a day every 4 months to go back to the goals I created to see what worked and hasn't worked.
Let's take the goal of eating plant-based. I will know if I have been achieve this goal simply by how I've been eating and cooking. If I am on track, I will know that eating less meat is simply part of my routine. Instead of eating 4 days of meat based dishes, I am eating 3 days.
Let's say I do a check-in and I realize I haven't been able to consistently eat 4 dinners plant-based per week. Now is the time to figure out what happened. Am I having difficulty finding recipes that incorporate more vegetables? Is my family not supportive so I've been going back to the same old cooking routine? Now is the time to figure out how to get back on track. After all, if the goal was important in January, it will still be important in April. If needed, you may need to find a coach to help you plan how to achieve your goal.
#3 Don't be afraid to change how you will meet your goals.
Life happens! What goals you had in January can very easily change come April. Maybe you get a new job in April which doesn't give you the time to achieve one of the goals as you have written it. Maybe you need to take time off to care for a loved one. Maybe you need to cut back on spending to increase savings. Maybe you develop an allergy that needs to be corrected.
What ever the change has occurred simply means you may need to change how to achieve the goal. Let's take one of my goals from above. My goal of continuing to focus on my health means exercising 3-5 times a week. This requires an investment of $56 per month for the gym, $100 per month for hot yoga and $250 per month for strength training. In January, that investment is not a problem.
Come April, I have a new job that lowers my income. So I must reorganize my monthly budget. I no longer can spend $406 per month on working out. This doesn't mean I can't keep up a workout routine. to continue focusing on my health.
Instead, I can scale down my investment by stopping the strength training and hot yoga. I can keep the monthly gym membership for $56 per month or even switch gyms to go to a $10 per month gym. I can do yoga for free at home via YouTube videos. It is not hot yoga but I already own a personal infrared sauna. So I can sweat in that! For birthdays or holidays, I can ask for gift cards to a yoga studio as a treat. Sometimes we need to think differently to achieve our goals versus just give up on them.
#4 Make a schedule to help remind you of your goals.
Some of us do better when we make a plan to achieve our goals. I am one of those people. I find if I write down weekly activities that support my goals, I am more likely to achieve my goals. If I choose to exercise, I write down my exercise activity for the week. At least, what I plan to do. It doesn't always mean I do it. Some mornings I don't feel like running so I opt for the elliptical machine.
If your goal is eat more fruits and vegetables, create weekly strategies to get there. Maybe you log eating a piece for a mid-morning snack. Maybe you look for a vegetarian recipe for dinner to make for the family one night during the week. The beauty of writing it down is that you have a history of your activities. You can look back at your check-in and see what you achieved. If writing it down isn't appealing to you, you can always create reminders in your phone or on your computer.
#5 Ask for support from your family and friends.
Don't underestimate the power of support. If you are working on a goal and you haven't told your family and friends, you will have a more difficult time achieving your goals. Clearly ask them for their support. Tell them why the goal is important to you. Tell them to ask how you are doing towards your goal. This gives you a forum to talk about progress or roadblocks you have experienced. You can also ask them to join you in your goal. You never know what their answer may be.
Years ago, I started eating a mostly plant based diet. I had been doing a lot of reading about how meat consumption just isn't good for our bodies. So I tried it. This meant I had to make two dinners - one for my meat eating significant other and a plant based one for me. While this was extra effort, I knew I was doing something good for my health so I was unwilling to compromise.
After about a year, I asked my significant other if he would be willing to have at least one plant based dinner per week. He shocked me in saying yes. I never even thought of asking him to do it when I first started doing it! I assumed his answer would be no. Now, I even make him a plant based lunch once a week. He never complains! My goal this year is to serve 2 plant based dinners per week. We'll see how it goes....I'll report back in April😁
I hope this blog post gave you some ideas on how to organize your goals to make them achievable. If you try any of the above, let me know what worked for you! I love hearing your experiences on the ideas I share.
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