- Quality of Life & Wellness
New Years Resolution: Achieve Your Goals
New Years Quote by Ben Franklin
"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man" Benjamin Franklin
How to Achieve Your Goals
How many New Years Eve resolutions have you made that you kept throughout the year? Let’s face it, resolutions are doomed for failure. Why? Because human beings are creatures of habit.
So, what can you do if you want to use the New Year for a fresh start? Set goals to achieve.
Setting a goal accomplishes two things: first, it allows you to transition into a new habit. Second, it allows you to note your progress along the way.
Let’s take a look at the process of dropping one habit to acquire another. Studies have found that it takes approximately 28 days for a change to occur. That’s just four weeks. Four weeks to allow for a new habit to become routine and to re-train your mind. The mind works that way. It moves in the grooves of repetitive behavior.
But, your new ‘habit’ is not going to be complete in just four weeks. Remember, this is a yearlong project. You will have an additional 337 days following the first 28 to fine tune your new behavior and move toward your goal. At the end of the year it will be sweet success.
Know the direction your goals will take you.
It is surprising how many people do not understand how to set a goal. Here are some key points to remember when making goals:
1. A good goal is realistic
One of the key points in setting up a goal is how attainable it is. Even a lofty goal such as becoming a doctor is attainable for some people. However, it would not be achievable if the person has a low intelligence level. In that case the goal is not realistic. If you question whether a goal you want to work toward is realistic and it is not clear to you, ask someone who knows you well, is a positive support for you and who can offer an objective opinion.
2. A good goal is measurable.
Writing a goal in measurable terms offers a way to note your progress. Without specifics there is no clarity about whether you ever reached your target. In the goal for weight loss note the difference between the following two examples: Person A states, “I’m going to lose weight this year,” while Person B states, “I’m going to lose 10 lbs. this year.” Which person will know when his goal has been reached? By naming the amount of weight loss desired the goal can now be measured.
3. A good goal has a beginning and ending time frame.
In traveling toward successful goal achievement one must have a starting point and a finish line. It is an important part of the process of goal setting. Imagine utilizing a travel agent to help you with a road trip. When she asks where you want to start from you have no idea. Then, when she asks, “Where will your trip end?” you say, “I don’t know.” That would be a fruitless endeavor.
Using the above example of weight loss if person A states they will lose weight this year the vague expectation would be by December 31st. While person B may take the amount of weight loss desired by the same number of weeks: "I will lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks" as his deadline. This gives the goal a target date in which the goal will be completed. The end of the deadline will determine whether the goal was met or not; and whether it needs to be revised or extended.
4. Break large goals into small ones.
Don’t be afraid to make goals that will take you beyond this year. If the goal is worth working toward take it one step at a time and make it happen through the process of steps. For example, one might desire getting a college education, but realistically, it will not happen in one year. There are several ways to approach this. One way is by accepting that each class brings you one step closer to achieving your desire. Another way is to break the educational process down into phases, first an Associate’s Degree, next a bachelors degree, etc. This method can be applied to any goal. This is the importance of not being afraid to write any goal that you wish to achieve down on your list. Then you can categorize them into short term goals: "take one class a semester"; and long term goals: "finish my Doctorate Degree by the time I am 35."
5. Evaluate and adjust a goal as needed.
It is important to evaluate your progress along the way and make adjustments if you are stumbling with obstacles. Perhaps the goal needs to be broken into smaller steps; or perhaps you picked an unrealistic goal in which you need more preparation for. Perhaps you are sabotaging your goal and need to become aware of how or why this is happening; or perhaps you have others who are trying to thwart your success. Keeping a steady, positive support group as your ‘cheerleaders’ is another tool for success.
Remember: set reasonable and achievable goals; keep track of your successes along the way for encouragement; tell at least one person you can trust as a supporter for your cause and utilize him when you are doubting your ability; keep your goal in sight visually either through pictures or words.
Each year on New Year’s Eve, or a few days before, I begin my evaluation process. I look over my list for that year and note how successful I was in achieving my goals. Then, I look forward and either continue with minor adjustments to my former goals or add new ones.
For the sake of balance in my life I focus on all areas in a holistic fashion: spiritual, mental, physical, and financial. I think of issues in each of those categories, which I term the ‘Four Directions'. Then, I decide what I wish to accomplish and make my goals for the next 12 months.
For example, under my list of Spiritual goals I continue my meditation practice by setting the goal to "meditate for 15 minutes in the morning before starting my day." In the Mental category I may list something of a creative nature, or a class I am interested in: take a photography class during February at the local community college. Under the Body I add anything that would involve the physical aspect such as, "Clean attic on first w/e in March." And, for me, my financial house is as important as my physical house. It is the fourth direction that I re-evaluate each year to help me plan and control my finances; the ultimate goal being fiscal well-being and financial freedom. I set my financial goals in small increments that will lead to a successful retirement one day.
Good luck to each of you in the next 12 months and may you enjoy successful goal setting.