So, it’s a new year. Congratulations on making it this far. During the past couple weeks I’ve heard and seen some pretty interesting things from people who are apparently expecting to be magically reborn into a much more productive, positive person. If that’s you, I’ve got some bad news. There’s no magic involved and there is no instantaneous change on your immediate horizon. Oh man, I sound like a Donnie Downer…
Ok, maybe this will help. All of those wonderful things that you said you wanted to happen for you in 2017 can happen. It most likely will not happen right away and may not even happen in the year of 2017, but the good news is that it can happen. However, there’s a catch. You knew that was coming so don’t act surprised. Much like marriage, co-parenting and parental relationships, making your New Year’s resolutions a reality will require a few things from you and you’ve already started step 1:
Set an Attainable Goal
Attainable being the key here. Take a good look at your resolution. Is this something that is within your ability to complete? You don’t want to set yourself up with a goal that you can’t reach. Yes, I said can’t. Here’s some quick and harsh reality for you. Despite what you heard growing up, you can’t be and have ANYTHING you want. There are some natural limitations. The key is to know what yours are.
For instance, it would be foolish of me to set a goal to become a professional football (soccer to my North American friends) player. It’s not that I could have never done that in my lifetime, but at my age most professionals have already retired. I would only be setting myself up for failure and disappointment. It’s time to be honest with yourself… but don’t sell yourself short either. A mentor once warned me, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” So dream big, dream scary, but know where your strengths lie.
Break it Into Smaller Pieces
Now that you have a big goal, or maybe a few, it’s time to make it manageable. Think about all of the things that will need to make that big goal a reality. I’m assuming you know that we can jump from the couch to half marathon next week. If you’re thinking that then we have bigger problems and you and I should probably take this off line and have a side conversation.
Take all of those smaller pieces of your big goal and organize them into chronological order. Let’s continue with the half marathon example, only because I know a few of my friends are probably thinking about running the 24th of May Bermuda Day Half Marathon. For some of us that’s a big goal, 13 miles is nothing to sneeze at. In order to reach that goal I’d have to draw up a training plan week by week that would get me fit enough to complete 13 miles before the 24th of May. Thankfully I haven’t committed to that this year… maybe next year we’ll do a whole cavemanangle.com run on Bermuda Day… maybe.
Write it all down
You have a great memory, I know. So why write everything down you ask? Well the simple answer is that there is something about writing things down, especially where they are visible, increases our ability to follow through. Beyond that though, it helps us to clarify what our goals really are and sometimes we can identify other available opportunities. There is also now a written history and that allows a visual, historical aid that helps when it comes time to celebrate your success.
Build Team You
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot out there and probably heard lots of people say things like ‘don’t let anyone know your next move.’ Yeah, well, there’s certainly more to it than that. First off, humans by nature are interdependent. Our society teaching individualism, independence and self reliance (another post for another day), but in reality, love it or hate it, we all need other people and reaching personal goals is no different.
The ‘don’t let anyone know your next move’ advice is almost true. Not everyone needs to know about what you’re up to or what you’re planning for yourself, in fact there are very few people that really should know. Select a few people that you trust and won’t just appease you. You know, those real friends that you have. These folks are the ones to share your goals with and ask them to help you be accountable. If they’re true friends they’ll hold you to task when needed, encourage you when you’re down and celebrate the wins with you.
Get Your Hands Dirty
This one is really simple. DO THE WORK. Anything worth achieving is going to take some effort. So after you’ve written down your goals and how you plan to reach them and assembled your team get to work. Seriously. What are you waiting for?
These simple tips will get you on your way to achieving the goals you’ve set out for the year. Don’t forget to reward yourself for the small victories along the way. That will help to keep you motivated and focussed on your goals. It will also allow for an opportunity for you to measure progress and see the changes that you’ve already achieved. Have fun, keep working and stay focussed.