1. Know your “why” and be specific.
We talk about this ALL of the time. The truth is purpose will fuel perseverance. When you have a strong “why” behind your goal; you are more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough. The more specific you are, the more obvious your action steps become. Vague goals will produce vague results.
2. Plan it on your calendar.
Have a realistic plan to achieve your goals. Pull out your calendar. Block time (whether 15 minutes for a small goal or a whole day for a big goal) to brainstorm how you will achieve the goal and plan your timeline. You schedule medical appointments, maybe even gym time and other activities – why not schedule time to plan and implement the steps to reach your goal. Identify potential obstacles and figure out a plan to help you avoid them. Identify and put in place the things you will need to reach your goal. Is it a healthier grocery shopping list? An automatic withdrawal from your paycheck so you can boost your savings by 25%? No matter what it is, plan for it so it will happen.
3. Clarify what needs to change AND be honest with yourself.
Do you know why most people fail to reach a goal? They underestimate what it takes to reach it. The bigger the goal, the bigger the commitment. “I want to work out three time a week” is a good start, but when? What will need to change to make time for this goal? Most of all be honest with what has held you back from reaching this goal in the past. Fill in the blank of this statement, “I hate to admit it, but ….” Now, make a goal to address the BUT! For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight,” the goal becomes, “I’m going to find healthy ways to cope with my stress/insecurity/anxiety other than eating.”
4. Make it fun.
Have you ever noticed when you have positive emotions, you feel better? Research shows positive emotions have lots of health benefits. Positive emotion can help you set better goals, see more options to get to the goal and persevere in the face of adversity. Why not ask a friend to join you, take a class or join a group focused on the goal, and brainstorm ideas for making it fun or creating a game out of it. When you work together, you can encourage each other on those tough days.
5. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
Okay, this is probably the hardest thing for me to do! What about you? Perfectionism is actually rooted in fear – fear we’re not good enough, fear mistakes are the end of the world, and falling down means never getting back up. Does this sound like you? Buying into fear means you are less likely to ever get started. Give yourself a break! It is okay to make mistakes and stumble on the way to your goal. Then when it happens, simply ask: What is the lesson for me to learn? What will I do differently next time? Use your failures and mistakes as learning tools.
6. Pinpoint the milestones and how you’ll celebrate.
Anticipation is a happiness trigger. It produces positive emotion which keeps you moving forward. Rather than having just one big milestone – the finish line – create multiple milestones along your journey to the goal. Plan for them along the way. Treat yourself when you hit one. Most of all, be sure to share the milestones with people who will celebrate along with you.
7. Fear is inevitable, but it’s not a stop sign.
The biggest obstacle to creating meaningful goals and taking consistent steps forward is fear. Refuse to stop just because fear rears its ugly head. Instead, question your fear. Ask, “Well, what if that happens? What will I do then?” Push through your fear by being brave enough to face it, imagine it and make a plan to handle it.
Whether you are trying to finish off the year by reaching one of your New Year’s Resolutions or are already planning for the New Year, these steps will help you to reach your goal. Share you goal with us, let us celebrate your milestones and encourage you when you hit the bump in the road.
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!