Goals, not resolutions

I’ve said it before, but I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. It’s better to set goals, and make sure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted. But goals, like resolutions, can be set with all of the best of intentions and still be tossed aside and forgotten within weeks. How do you set goals that you’re willing to stick to and achieve? Here are four tips that I’ve found for setting goals.

1. Take on only one goal at a time. Although we put a premium on multitasking these days, it doesn’t work when making significant changes in our lives. When we try to make too many changes at once, it dilutes our focus and undermines our commitment. By working on one goal at a time, we can give it our full attention and energy. When we achieve that goal, we can then go on to the next one. It is better to start and finish one goal than to start several goals and not finish any of them.

2. Be passionate about achieving your goal. You can’t work through the setbacks that inevitably come from making changes in your life unless you are  passionate about your goal. So, make sure that this is a goal you want to achieve, not something you think others want you to do. Become obsessed about the goal, talk about it constantly, keep reading and learning about the change you are making. This gives you the energy and encouragement to keep going when things get rough.

3. Find people to hold you accountable. Share your goals with others and build a support system to keep you motivated and hold you accountable. Peer pressure normally leads to unhealthy habits, but peer pressure can also drive us to change. Some online diet and other self-improvement sites have links to Facebook so you can share your goals and announce your progress.

4. Reward yourself. As adults, we’re still motivated by trophies and gold stars. Find a way to reward yourself that is related to your goal. If you are working on your weight, buy yourself a new outfit. If you’ve given up your evenings studying for a class or writing a book, give yourself a night off to relax and go to a movie. You’ve worked hard and sacrificed for your goal, so recognize yourself for your achievement. You deserve it.

Good luck with your goal setting this coming year.