By Arina Nikitina
There is something about "new" that keeps our thoughts occupied with new resolutions, new dreams, new hopes, new plans and new wishes. New Year gives a perfect starting point for opening the next chapter of our life and making it better and brighter than the previous one.
Unfortunately not all of our dreams and desires become reality. Keeping the initial enthusiasm and motivation over the long period of time is often tough. If you have made resolutions last year you probably know how difficult it is to stay committed to them.
The reason why so many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions almost as quickly as they make them is simple.
While resolutions for the New Year give us a wonderful sense of positive intent, they are extremely hard to stick with unless we turn them into clear, well-defined goals.
Here are some goal setting tips that will help you to stay on track with your resolutions and make the upcoming year unforgettable:
1. Get It Right The First Time
Before trying to formulate any actual long-term goal for the next year have a 'mind dump'. It’s a great and simple way of getting a lot of ideas out of your head, clear your mind and get a good view of your plans, decisions, and wishes.
Devote at least 20 minutes of your uninterrupted time to brainstorm. Sit down and relax. Take a piece of paper and write down whatever goals come to your mind. Don’t analyze anything. Just write it down. Big or small. Simple desires or life changes. Everything you wish you had gotten to, but didn’t. Anything you wanted for a long time, but never had enough time, courage, or persistence to follow through.
2. Pick Your Goal!
Take a look at the goals that you have written down… Are any of your resolutions unrealistic? What is the most important goal for you at the moment?
I’m sure that there are many goals that you would like to accomplish, but only few of them will have the biggest impact on your life this year.
Which goal is it? Is it something that can be achieved in one year? Or will it require more time? If it is a long term goal that will take several years to achieve, you might want to break it down into smaller goals that you can accomplish in less that a year. Otherwise, there is a high chance of losing motivation and initial momentum.
3. Concentrate Your Efforts On JUST ONE Goal
Don’t set a lot of different goals at the same time. Although it may seem like a good idea to divide your focus, time and energy between multiple goals, in reality it is counter-productive.
When you set a goal - you make a decision to stay committed to it. If you are pursuing a lot of goals at the same time, you aren’t committed to any of them. You’re just going with the flow, hoping that you’ll find time to squeeze everything into your already busy schedule. But what you do in reality is lose control of your time and let outside circumstances dictate your life.
One goal gives you clarity and focus. Ten goals create chaos and confusion.
If you want to succeed in achieving your goal next year, chose just one goal at a time and stick to it until it is 100% complete. Then pick the next one.
I know that we want to have everything right this moment. Most of us are impatient by nature. But think about this: It is much better to achieve one major goal than set 10 goals and fail to accomplish any of them!
4. Create Your Mantra
Once you’ve chosen your goal, turn it into a personal statement. And then turn it into something more than a statement - make it your own mantra or a verbal formula that is continuously repeated in your mind.
Make sure that you make your goal as detailed and clear as possible. There is a great way to check if your goal is stated correctly. Look at your goal “from the distance”. Forget that you have written these words just a few hours ago. Imagine that you see this statement for the first time, because your friend wants to know your opinion on it. Do you have any questions? Or maybe you would like to clarify a few things? If so, make adjustments to your goal, until it is 100% clear to everyone who reads it for the first time.
After that put copies of your goal on an index card, make it your desktop wallpaper, post it in the car or right next to your bathroom mirror or next to your computer at work.
Ensure that your goal is always at a forefront of your mind. Repeat it out loud every single day. Make your goal a center of your focus.
This will help you to keep your motivation and excitement high throughout the day.
5. Decide On An Action Plan
Many people fail to achieve their goals not because they lack desire or enthusiasm, but because they fail to plan their success out.
Goals are not simple items on your to-do list. They can’t be done overnight. Any worthwhile goal requires sustained effort and energy over the long period of time. Without a well-thought action plan it is almost impossible to carry big goals out.
If you want to noticeably improve your chances of success - plan specific actions that will lead you to the desired result. Your goal should be your compass that will point you into the right direction.
Your action plan is a detailed map that with the baby steps will take you to your destination point. Action plan also helps you to monitor your progress, while giving you a sense of accomplishment and making the whole process seem a lot easier.
6. Make Your Success Inevitable
Even if the goal that we have chosen sounds really appealing, it doesn’t mean that we will stick to it. When it comes to doing actual work, our motivation disappears with a speed of light.
Here is a quick example. Having a beautiful, toned and slim body is a very inspirational goal. We all want to be healthy and look great. However, getting up early in the morning to run 1 mile, denying ourselves things we love to eat, changing our lifestyle sounds much less appealing. At this point we have to consciously force ourselves into doing all these things to get the end result that we want.
Of course, if you have an iron will and unbending self-discipline, you will achieve your goal anyways. But if you are like me, you probably won’t torture yourself for a long period of time. Fortunately, there is a way how you can accomplish anything you desire, without having to force yourself into doing something.
All you have to do is set up the right conditions and let things happen for themselves.
For example, if you want to get more exercise, you can find a friend who wants to get back in shape and offer him/her to exercise together. Or set up an appointment with a personal trainer at the gym. He will stay by your side the whole time and you will more likely do your best. Or you can make a deal with your spouse that every workout that you’ll skip, you’ll give him/her $40.
Leave yourself no escape from achieving your goal. What conditions can you set up to make your success inevitable? With a little imagination and support of your friends and family you can accomplish any goal!
7. Build On Your Success
No matter what goal you have decided to pursue, there is only one way to achieve it - take a first step and build on your success gradually.
There is no way around it. You can’t become a multi-millionaire without making your first million. You can’t get in shape and have a gorgeous looking body, without doing the first workout. You can’t write a book, without writing the first chapter.
Whatever you want to accomplish you must do something every single day towards making your wish reality.
Even if you do just a little bit. Something that doesn’t require a lot of your time of effort, but you do it DAILY, you will achieve even your most daring goals.
Don’t let a single day go by without "incrementally" adding to an accomplishment of your goal. Consistency is the most important factor of success. Not motivation, not knowledge, not your skills - but consistency.
When we are first faced with everything we must do in order to achieve our goal it is easy to feel overwhelmed. When a goal seems too difficult to accomplish we often procrastinate, preferring to postpone hard work for later. The problem with it is that "later" may never come.
The only moment when you can change or do something is NOW. Don’t delude yourself with self-justifications that it is ok to skip today, if you do twice the work the next day. Deep down you know that it is just another story that you are telling yourself.
January 1st is a great starting point to change your life for the better. Make no excuses next year! Do something that will take you closer to your goal every single day. Even a tiny step towards your goal creates momentum and boosts motivation. And it is a step that you will never have to take again.
Arina Nikitina is the creator of the Goal Setting Studio.