Goals are the road map that tells us where we’re going. Without them you just live life without a sense of direction. New Years is the perfect time to reflect on where you are and plan for improving different areas of our life for the year ahead. But setting goals is the easy part. Sticking to them and achieving them not so much.
But there is a trick that I use to achieve any goal, small or large. The following is my recipe to create goals that you’ll actually complete.
Step 1. Get clear on what you really want. We have 7 categories in our life. Family, Relationships, Career/Education, Money, Health, Recreation, and Spirituality. Goals always fall into one of these categories. Be honest with your self about what you want to improve or change. Maybe you want to look good, get a job, spend more time with family, or don’t want to be single anymore.
If you don’t know what you want, work backwards. Sometimes it’s easier to know what you DON’T want. For example, maybe you know you don’t want to quit your job, or don’t need to loose weight, but maybe you need to have more fun in your life, or want to improve your relationships. From the 7 categories above, which areas are you the least happy with? Start with that area.
Step 2. Set a specific date for when you want to have completed the goal. It’s ok if you’re off by a few days or weeks. But when you give your goal a deadline, you’re more likely to achieve it. Plus it’s easier to keep track of progress
Step 3. BREAK IT DOWN. This is actually the secret weapon. Any goal that you have can feel overwhelming. Especially big goals. But when you break it down to the smallest steps, it really is not that hard to complete. For example, lets say your goal is to loose 50 pounds by the summer. 50 pounds sounds like a big number and all you can do is think about all the food you won’t be able to eat. But if you count, for example, from January 1st until June 1st, that’s 22 weeks. 50(pounds) ÷ 22 (weeks) =2.27 (pounds) So all you have to focus on is loosing about 2 pounds a week, not the 50.
If the goal is to get a job, think about the small steps that you have to take to get there. Such as Googling companies you’ll like to work at, downloading the Indeed app, and applying to 2-3 jobs a week.
You do this with any goal. Break it down to the simplest form.
Now that you have these 3 steps. Now you have to take action.
- Write down your goal on an index card or small piece of paper, with the deadline and any small steps that you have to take. It’s been proven that people that write down their goals are more likely to complete them compared to people who don’t write them down.
- Put the piece of paper or index card somewhere you’ll see it every day. This could be on your mirror, in your car, in your wallet or planner. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s somewhere that you’ll see it often. Even take a picture of the paper so that you also have it saved in your phone.
- Try to take one simple step every day or week that brings you closer to your goal. Anything from buying new gym sneakers, cleaning out your closet for the new clothes you’ll be buying, doing a little research, or asking someone for help IS a step. Remember that when working towards goals SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. Try to do something daily no matter how small it is. This will make it easier to start and keep the momentum.
- Look at your goal first thing in the morning and right before going to bed. The first 20 minutes after we wake up sets the tone for the rest of the day. Don’t believe me, try stubbing your toe or waking up to yelling and tell me if you’re in a good mood after. When you look at your written goal, visualize how it would feel to have already achieved it. This is supposed to be fun. Picture yourself shopping for the new clothes that you’ll need to buy because you’re fit, or feel relaxed because you know that things always work out for you.
IF you have supportive people, it’s okay to share your goal with someone. But if the people around you tend to be negative, I suggest keeping your goal to yourself and just let the results speak for its self. Goals are personal and you’ll quickly be discouraged if you share it with the wrong person.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway
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About the author.
Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.