In my last blog, I talked about lessening the pressure that comes with new year resolutions and making your goals YOUR decision, not anyone else’s. Once you’ve identified your goals and desired changes, then what? As promised, I'll walk you through what to do next.
The first step is to prioritize your goals in a meaningful way. Some ways to think through priorities is the answer the following questions: Is one area more time-sensitive than another? Has one area of your life been more problematic than others, so that it needs to be prioritized above other areas? And, last but not least, what one area of your life, if changed, would facilitate changes in other areas as well?
Once you’ve considered these questions and decided what goals to prioritize for this year, do the following with each goal:
- Make it measurable. How will you know when it’s met? For example, instead of “lose weight” you could set a specific weight you would like to be. Instead of “buy a new car” you could set your goals as “save up $4000 for a down payment on a car”. Then you know what you’re working towards and can track your progress along the way!
- Set a deadline for the overall goal.
- Break it down into steps. For example, you could say “I will lose 2lb per week” or “I will save $100 per paycheck”. Set deadlines for these steps if it’s applicable.
- Record these goals, steps, and deadlines somewhere you are likely to see it daily. This will increase accountability. There are many apps for cell phones and computers you can use, and a lot of them sync across devices.
- Ask a friend or family member to help keep you accountable. Maybe they’re also working on goals, or maybe they can just give you friendly reminders or check in with you from time to time to see how things are going. Importantly, tell them HOW you need them to support you instead of expecting them to know what you need. Maybe you don’t handle being reminded well, but you like being asked about your progress. Or you could ask them to support you just with their presence, like coming to the gym with you.
- Check in with yourself at intervals. Some people are motivated by checking their goal tracking every morning. Others feel good glancing at it before bed, and seeing their progress. Maybe you like to check in once a week, on a Sunday before a new week starts. Find what motivates you!
- Craft a reward system for yourself. You deserve to be rewarded in some way for each accomplished step and each achieved goal, and this will get the dopamine flowing and keep you motivated!
Most importantly, commend yourself regularly. Even thinking about setting goals is in itself an achievement. No step towards positive change is a small one. Be kind to yourself!
P.S. Keep an eye out for the next blog, which will touch more on using electronic devices to help you reach your goals! I'll touch on using our phones, computers, and smart watches to get where we want to be.