You know how you had that vague sort of notion last year sometime that you needed to…
…Then it showed up again a few months ago as an ” Oh Yeah!” sort of moment?…
…And maybe this morning some time, or earlier this week you spent an instant thinking, “That’s why I wanted to do that last year… hmmm…. maybe later I’ll…. I really should…”
Well now that you have a vision board (or not), or at least a vague notion of what you think may be good for you in the future, wouldn’t it be good to gather up all those loose ends and feel like you can take aim at something? We all have thoughts about what we should or shouldn’t do for the long haul, but if you’re anything like me, they’re just that- thoughts. If they don’t make it to a tangible state they may even be dreams, and I don’t mean the kind that you remodel the rest of your life around… I’m talking pure-unadulterated-pipe.
SO what comes next? Yeah, the board was fun (it really was, so go ahead and try it!), and it’s pretty…but big deal… How do I use it, or these nondescript thoughts, to take aim at my life? It’s time to set a goal.
Once again, if you’re anything like me, and this is the first time you’ve thought of making a goal, you may just sit down for the next two years and think about it. You may even get a little whining in there if you’ve joined me in the advanced stages of goal setting. But if you’re a novice and know the general direction in which you would like to move, you may want to start now. The next step then is to recognize that the “general direction,” is your long-term goal. Also recognize that if you could just up and accomplish your long-term goal you would have by now, so breaking it down into short-term attainable goals that include some concrete form of action, would make some sense.
Here is what experience has taught the general populace about setting reachable goals:
- They have to be balanced: Having a goal that is challenging enough yet attainable can be a fine line. You can’t go from being the Pillsbury Dough Boy to your high school body if you’re pushing 50. Small, progressive steps are important here if you don’t want to give up before you even start. At the same time, and here is where the balance comes in, you have to extend yourself beyond where you are now so that you don’t get frustrated or quit because you feel you aren’t making progress. ***So if you already walk twice a week it’s time to kick it up a NOTCH, not a STAIRCASE! You don’t want to go from 30 minutes walking to two hours running but, you may want to increase your walking time. You could add some other form of exercise, you may want to include drinking water, or you may be ready to use that gym membership that’s been subtracting from your bank account for the past three months. Any ONE of those things is a good progression. Be specific!
- Set some check-in times for yourself: We all get frustrated with how long it takes to get things done. Short-term goals need a dead-line. If your long-term goals are anything like some of mine, they are going to continue for some time. So how can I keep from giving up and letting them just fall into my daily routines? Set some deadlines. ***If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight by the end of the year, set up some check-in times for yourself along the way. Not so many that you become frustrated if your weight doesn’t fluctuate in the right direction on a daily basis, but rather, “…at the end of every month I will have lost 4 or more lbs and increased my exercise by 5 minutes until I hit my goals.” Checking in helps you appreciate the small successes that add up to the big payoff, and helps you stave off that horrible thought of “…but I still have sooooooo far to go!”
- Make your goals a positive experience: It’s often difficult to convince people of this but, how you talk to yourself really does matter. If you are constantly saying “I’m not going to eat junk food,” vs “I’m going to make healthier food choices like…” you’re most likely going to feel even more deprived! Constantly living in a state of denying ourselves, avoidance and NOT doing something (that let’s face it is just plain easier to do) can be really frustrating without having to hear about it every five minutes. Also remember to be specific and fill in those food choices after the word “…like…”
- Allow yourself some flexibility: Adaptation is the only reason the human race has persisted. What makes me think I’m any different? If I want to succeed I better be able to adapt to changing circumstances. What happens if I don’t reach my monthly check-point? What happens if I do? Nothing stays the same for very long and you’re going to run into circumstances that could keep you from achieving your desired goals. Last I heard, no one is perfect so some of those stumbling blocks may come directly from the source. There are days I get in my own way more than I don’t. Having a contingency plan for when the hand-basket arrives for your shuttle to Hell is going to be important, or you will find yourself giving up before you start. With enough all-or-none thinking, one bad situation can become the excuse for ditching the whole plan. ***In the interest of longevity and continuing your well laid plans, think about having some supportive friends and good stress-management skills on board to help you deal with those inevitabilities.
Know any good ways to stay on track?
Wanna share a goal in comments?