How to Achieve Goals, Objectives and Resolutions
The Recurring Question
I get a lot of questions. Questions flood in for the Mailbag series, but I also get random questions in emails and on Facebook. Easily the question asked more than any other goes like this:
“How do you find the time to do everything that you do? You must have forty-eight hours while the rest of us only have twenty-four? Seriously, how do you get it all done and still have time to eat and sleep?”
I’m going to answer that question today, and I’m going to do it in such a way that will leave most of you chomping at the bit, eager to take on your own challenges with renewed vigor. Shall we begin?
This is the time of year (written in January) when we see millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. “I’m going to lose fifty pounds….I’m going to run a mile every day….I’m going to give up smoking” and then in a month or so, those same people will be lamenting on the social media how they have failed miserably and what losers they are.
I don’t like resolutions.
I do like attainable goals.
How do I do it?
It Begins with Willingness and Commitment
It’s easy to state willingness when you are miserable, but is that really willingness? True willingness implies commitment. Without commitment, a declaration of willingness is just a bunch of words scattered in the wind.
If you are truly willing then you will do anything necessary to achieve your goal. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. When the going gets tough, the weak of heart run and hide. If that seems harsh I’m sorry, but tell me I’m wrong. I was raised by a no-nonsense father. Excuses were not allowed in our household as I was growing up. If I was told once I was told a thousand times…..keep moving forward! No matter the obstacle, my job is to always move forward.
How do I find the time to write thousands of articles, three novels, and interact on social media? I committed to doing so, and I embrace that commitment because I am willing.
Goals Must Be Realistic
I happened to be channel-surfing the other day. It was one of the rare times I watched television because hey, I just don’t have time for the boob tube. While I was surfing I came across Dr. Phil, and he was talking about weight loss. He said something that resonated with me and it should with you as well. He said that people need to be realistic about losing weight. They are never going to weigh what they did in high school, so stop that silliness now. Short of amputating an arm or a leg, it’s just not going to happen. I laughed when I heard that but for most people it is true.
The goal in weight loss, or any goal you set, must be realistic. If you are a writer, and you work a full-time job, it is practically impossible for you to commit to writing four hours each day, but it is very possible to commit to writing an hour each day. One of those goals is doable. The other is a trip to La La Land.
Goals Must Be Quantifiable
“I’m going to lose some weight” is a copout waiting for failure. “I’m going to lose a pound per week” is quantifiable and very realistic.
“I’m going to be a better writer” is about as nebulous as you can get. “I’m going to improve my writing skills by joining a writers’ group” is something that can be measured and achieved.
“I’m going to cut back on my cigarette smoking” means nothing. “I’m going to smoke two less cigarettes per day” is something that will breed success.
We all want to measure out success and pat ourselves on the back for positive achievements, but we can’t do that unless we set a specific goal.
Attaining Goals Requires a Support System
There will be some who will argue this point. The diehard individualists out there who don’t think they need others to achieve something will rail against this point, but oh well. We all need positive strokes, and we all need words of encouragement. Believe me, I had to learn this one the hard way. I wanted so badly to state to the world that I needed no one, but I was just whistling in the dark hoping the big bad wolf wouldn’t attack me.
I need people around me who support me and give me uplifting feedback, and if you are human, so do you.
Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, and if you don’t have any, go find some. Many of you know that I am an alcoholic. I have been sober now for eight years, but I would have never seen eight days of sobriety if it weren’t for loved ones who stood by me and held me up until I was strong enough to stand on my own. No matter what your goal is, you need support in achieving it. You need to feel good about your progress. You need the “warms and fuzzies” that come from friends who will praise you for your accomplishments.
I know, this sounds like some New Age b.s., but I swear it works. You need to see, in your mind, what success looks like. You’ve all heard the old adage “mind over matter.” I happen to believe in it.
As a writer, I constantly visualize what success in writing will look like. I can see my bestselling book on the bookstore shelf. I can see myself at hundreds of book-signings. I can see myself on talk shows and giving speeches at writers’ conferences.
Can you see what success looks like for you?
I suggest to all of you that each morning after you get up, you need to set aside five minutes. Spend those minutes visualizing success that day. When the five minutes are up, get out there and make it happen.
Achieving Goals Means Establishing a Plan
How are you going to achieve your plan?
When I became a full-time writer three years ago, I sat down and wrote out a five-year plan. In other words, I envisioned success in five years, and then I worked backwards and determined what I needed to accomplish each year in order to be successful.
I just finished my third year and I’m right on schedule.
My plan is pretty specific. Each week I follow a strict schedule, and every day is broken down into hourly chunks with each hour designated for some specific activity. So I have a daily plan, a weekly plan, a monthly plan, a yearly plan and a five-year plan.
I rarely deviate from those plans.
How committed are you to your goal?
As you can probably tell, I am very committed.
Sit down today and determine how you are going to achieve your goal. Put it down on paper, specific steps, and then tape that schedule/plan somewhere where you will see it daily.
How committed are you to your goal?
And There You Have It
Sounds simple, right?
Well no, no it doesn’t, but too bad, so sad, my bad!
I want you to succeed, but I refuse to sugarcoat it for you. You either want it bad enough or you don’t. Whatever it is you seek….less weight…better lifestyle…more time for writing….giving up a vice…whatever it may be, it’s not going to happen until you get serious about making it happen.
So, to answer the question how I get it all done, the answer is right above this sentence in the article.
Now it’s your turn. Good luck! If I can be of any assistance, give me a shout out.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)