Written by: Sonya D. Lavett
With the New Year right around the corner, the tweets are already rolling in about New Years’ resolutions.
If you are like me, resolutions are difficult to stick to because by the time February comes around, it is time to focus on other things. One thing I do all year long is goal setting; even more importantly, I write those goals down where I can see them every single day.
Last month, I wrote the article What Have You Accomplished in 2016, and just like keeping track of your successes is so important, so is keeping track of what you hope to accomplish in the coming year. Looking forward a year from now, where do you hope to be? What new knowledge or skill do you expect to gain? What specifically do you feel compelled to do and/or learn?
Goal setting is all about discovering what is important to you and being able to separate those ideas that are near and dear to your heart from those things that are irrelevant and only serve as distractions.
Resolutions . . .? No. Instead, create an action plan. Your action plan will blow any resolution right out of the water. Here are some guidelines to help you get started and keep you on track throughout the year.
- Make certain that your goals are both meaningful and motivating to you. There will always be things that need to be done, but try to keep your goals apart from your daily tasks. Your goals are part of your life’s bigger picture, rather than a laundry list of busy work. If you find that the goals you wrote down are all drudgery, then go back to the drawing board and discover what actually inspires you to stay motivated. Remember, if it is challenging and difficult, then it is likely to be well worth your effort.
- Knowing where you are headed is important, but you can only do that if you reflect on where you have been. Going back to 2016 and before, what did you accomplish and how did you succeed at achieving what you set out to do? Reflecting on your wins and possibly even those items that you may have struggled with can only help you with your new strategy for 2017. If something was not helpful to you in the past, scrap it and try a new approach.
- Use the SMART method when planning for 2017. Your goals should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. This is the “meat” of your plan, as the details will assist you in more concrete behaviors that are likely to lead you to completion. For example, want to run a marathon this year? Why do you want to take this on? What specific behaviors will you create and hold yourself to each and every day? How will you know you achieved these behaviors? How will you begin this process so you aren’t completely overwhelmed at the start of your training? How will your daily behaviors tie into the larger picture, i.e. the end result? What is your deadline? Think of your SMART goals as your action plan.
- Evaluate your current situation honestly. If running a marathon is definitely a priority for you, what will it take to get there and is now the right time? Obviously, an injury may prevent you from meeting your deadline, but it is possible that the deadline is fluid. For example, make 2018 your year to compete in a marathon and that will give you have two years to heal, prepare and train.
- Hold yourself accountable. This is one of the pieces to goal setting that can easily trip us up. Our goals are clearly important to us and to who we are, but if we do not hold ourselves accountable for our actions (or inactions), it makes it all the more difficult to hit our accomplishments. Having a detailed SMART plan gives you the steps to achieve your goals, but what happens if you miss a day of marathon training? What is your plan to recover and hit it hard the following day? What are the consequences? Accountability is what will give your plan some power. Make sure you are not the only one who knows what you have set out to do. Have trusted family members, friends and co-workers check in with you and ask relevant questions so you feel compelled to follow up and provide a status or an account of where you are in the process.
We may all have differences, but one thing most of us all have in common is that we hope to succeed in life. Taking time to get to know what makes you tick, honoring your dreams and planning out your future through goal setting will help you to live a happier and more meaningful life.
Just follow these steps and get to it! Then share your accomplishments, no matter how big or small, with your fellow CSU Knights so we all stay inspired and keep the momentum going.