Whether it is a New Year or not, we all struggle to set goals for ourselves and stick to them. On any day of the year you can wake up and decide to change your life, so if you made New Year's resolutions and haven't been keeping them or if you didn't make any New Year's resolutions but you want to change something about yourself or your life, you can start today. If you made resolutions that were supposed to begin on January 1st and you still haven't successfully started a plan, then start over today. There are a few things you want to keep in mind when setting goals for yourself.
When you are ready to seriously think about making some changes, grab some paper and a pen and use the following tips to create an "action plan" and bring your long forgotten New Year's resolutions back to life!
- Write down what you want. Think about what areas of your life you would like to change and then decide what specifically you would like to change. Once you've taken sufficient time to think of some goals, then you should make a list of your specific goals. You should keep your list of goals some place where you can easily review them often. You can start a journal of your progress or use a notebook to write down important information and to keep track of your progress.
- Keep it real!
Don't set yourself up for failure by biting off more than you can chew. You don't want to set totally unrealistic goals for yourself that you know you can't make, like trying to lose 50 pounds in a month. You also don't want to try to change too many things at once. You may want to change many things, but it would be really hard to work 60 hours a week, go to school full-time and attend fitness classes five times a week. It takes time to change, especially when you are making a major change to your lifestyle, like weight loss, which involves a daily change in your eating patterns and a regular physical fitness routine. You may have to start slowly and later increase the demands you place on yourself.
- Decide when you are going to do it.
It is important to schedule the necessary time in your life to work on yourself and the changes you want to make in your life. It is important to schedule the necessary time in your life to work on your resolution. A common excuse for not accomplishing one's goals is to say that you didn't have time -- so make time -- you owe it to yourself! Schedule time for your goals just as you would a work meeting or a doctor's appointment. You should also set dates by which you plan to accomplish your goals or reach certain milestones.
- Get help.
It greatly increases your chances of success if you have people in your life who will support and encourage you to continue reaching for your goals. Also, a life coach can help you create and execute your plans to achieve your goals by helping to keep you confident, focused and disciplined. You may also know someone who shares your goals who can form a partnership with you and provide mutual support on your journey. Whatever you do, do not allow other people to sabotage you from meeting your goals or to discourage you from making your desired changes.
- Make changes to your environment and other relationships.
Fulfilling your goals may require that you rearrange your life in some very important ways. If there are things or even people in your life that you know will sabotage your ability to follow your resolutions then you need to reposition those things/people. If you are determined to improve your eating habits then you've got to get into that kitchen and clean out the refrigerator and cabinets that are full of unhealthy foods. If you are making a commitment to your relationship and you know that certain friends don't support it or encourage you to sabotage it (i.e. infidelity) then you may have to make the difficult decision of finding some new friends who support your new healthy living choices.
- Revisit your resolutions/goals daily.
It's not enough to write your goals down in a book that you never open again. You need to revisit them on a daily basis until they are fully integrated into your life. If it helps you can post your goals in a visible place that reminds you of your commitment to them and a new and improved life.
- Stay strong. Most importantly, don't give up! You have to value yourself and your life enough to take the time to first think about and then act on the goals you would like to reach. You will meet several obstacles along the way, but you should not be discouraged from continuing the quest to get the best out of life, whatever that looks like for you. You will face obstacles whether you decide to keep your life exactly as it is today or shoot for the stars. Think of how much more fulfilling it will be to work hard for something you really want and deserve instead of just working hard.
© 2011 Dr. Michelle Callahan