A Neat Trick for Setting Goals

There’s a nuance of difference between making Resolutions and Setting Goals for your life!

(Useful for any time of the year!)

The very phrase “Making Resolutions” or “New Year’s Resolutions” seem to be loaded with GUILT for most of us who try (and then fail) to do what we set out to do. I believe it’s time to drop this expression from our vocabulary! …Oh and by all means don’t tell people what “resolutions” you’re planning for yourself, because apparently it works against us psychologically!

It’s been a few years since I’ve done the traditional New Year’s Resolutions… I had been recognizing that in my own life they simply weren’t working!

I swapped out the word “changes”, as in “what changes do I need to work on?” and that has turned out to be a much less stressful way of working on change!

See a few related articles: A new you! Is this possible? and Making a change… “How do I take that first step?” or Fear… What Can Hold Us Back?

I’d been hearing about “Setting Goals for the whole year”, which I think is much more do-able! This gives us an entire year to work on the things on our list, instead of trying to force change as rapidly as possible, as soon as possible!

Goals = Planning and Research

In order to take on a new habit or goal, sometimes we need to do a little bit of planning and research before we can start to implement it in our lives.

For example: a goal of getting more exercise. What could one need to do before getting started? There’s some questions we need to ask ourselves:

  • What kind of exercise do I want to do? Walking? Running? Weight training? Play a sport? Indoors? Outdoors?
  • What is my budget?
  • What is my current level of fitness? What is realistic for me at this stage?
  • How much time do I have available?
  • Am I self motivated or do I need a training partner or coach to hold me accountable?

By asking ourselves questions as part of our planning process, we’re seeking answers which will set us up for success for the long term, not just to jump into anything and then become discouraged!

As you can see, the thought process of a “resolution” is usually something impulsive and not too well thought through, hence the high failure rate, where-as setting goals for the next year seems to imply having a planning process!

Do our goals need to be set in stone?

I know when I set my goals for the following year that they don’t have to be set in stone! *GASP!* Why? (Or rather Why Not?)

When I’m finishing up a year I find it natural to look back on my year, to see what I’ve accomplished and see if I can pull out some goals from that… which seems to be a natural progression!

As we work on goals we see we have natural strengths and areas we lag in. Over the course of a year we can sometimes develop new interests and passions, new opportunities may come up which we want to take advantage of, or we may hit a dead-end with something we’ve been working on.

This is natural in life and isn’t an indication of failure to stick with something for decades, or that we’re fickle! Rather, life has a way of throwing us curve balls! Life is in a constant state of change so we must adapt to the changes.

Does this mean that if we lose interest that we can just change our list? Does it mean that if something proves too difficult that we can just drop it?

Not really! You see, sometimes when we set a goal, we think we’re losing interest because it seems too overwhelming! We then find out that there’s a lot of prep work we need to do before we can tackle the actual task itself!

When we find out we need to complete steps “A-M” before we can do step “N”, this is a point at which many will become discouraged and perhaps give up… but fear not! If we alter our plans a little to include the prep work, we’ll be able to meet our goals… if not this year, then the next!

Once those prep steps are completed, they become part of our list of accomplishments! Pretty neat, huh?

Of course, going through the process we may discover we actually have much less interest for something than we thought we would, but isn’t it better to explore all the options and not just give up on it outright?

End of Year Report

I had read that creating an “End of Year Report” is a very useful exercise, since it not only shows an employer or prospective employer how we’ve effectively utilized out time, it also helps us see for ourselves all the things we’ve managed to do! I did that  one year, and went through the trouble of creating an info-graphic to show in a more visual way my major accomplishments… and when I saw it shaping up I sure felt a warm glow inside of myself! I was happy! I was proud! It felt good to see my accomplishments in front of me!

Once I wrote out my points it became so much easier to extrapolate from those to set some goals or challenges for the next year! I felt so good about writing those goals, so stress-free, so un-pressured! I knew I’d have a whole year to work on these challenges.

Don’t you think this is a much more stress-free approach, and becomes something alive and workable in our lives? What are some of the goals you’re working towards this year?

Here’s the link to my webpage where I’ve got archived informational articles sorted by subject matter.

A final thought: If your GOALS seem large, overwhelming and maybe a little scary… Break them down into smaller steps! Take baby steps!
Instead of trying to do it all at once… Baby steps! Start somewhere small… Then build from there!

Remember… Even if you start small, you’re still starting!
One step will lead to another, then another… and before you know it, well, you’ll have done it!

Peace! Tamara

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3 thoughts on “A Neat Trick for Setting Goals

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