Well, it’s a new year and, potentially, a new life. I’ve heard that many people don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions anymore because…well, because they don’t end up following through on them and this usually leaves them feeling defeated and dejected before they ever enter the second month of the year. I’ve learned from reading and listening to various writers and speakers that this is often due to the fact that we sometimes make the goals and resolutions too big or we have too many of them, and thereby set ourselves up for defeat.
It’s a subtle form of self-sabotage, this giving ourselves too much to do. Five goals is aiming high. Three might be easier to attain. But seven to ten goals will likely overwhelm you and lead to defeat.
The beauty of a new year is that you can, if you want to, start over with a fresh slate. Or, as the bubbly and very astute hooker in ‘Forrest Gump’ said to Forrest on New Year’s Eve: “Everybody gets a second chance!”
Nevermind what you didn’t live up to last year. Just use that as motivation to push you into action this year. This is a new day.
So here are some tips on reaching goals to get you started:
Decide on your most important ones and write them down. Ask yourself why your goals are important to you and whittle them down to a few that will most positively affect your life when you reach them. There’s something about writing things down that makes them more tangible. Keep them somewhere where you can easily pull them out and see them to remind yourself what you’re aspiring toward.
Envision yourself accomplishing your goal. They say that Olympic athletes play out in their mind, beforehand, over and over again, exactly how they are going to swim, run, bike, etc. on the day they are going for the gold medal. They envision it from start to finish so that by the time the day arrives, they are living out what they have played out hundreds of times already in their minds.
Don’t make them overwhelming. A goal that is small to you may be huge to someone else. Or vice versa. But whatever it is you are setting out toward, don’t make it so big that you set yourself up to let yourself down. Remember, these are goals for the coming year, not the coming decade. You can work on five-year and ten-year goals separately.
Break your goal down into bite-sized chunks. This makes them easier to reach, and also allows you the jolt of happiness when you succeed at the little steps along the way. Accomplishing these little steps will motivate you to press on and keep going.
Keep it simple. One of my goals is to be a better listener. It isn’t a goal with a specific date deadline, but it is something I’m working on every day in every interaction I have. I’m very aware when I’ve slipped up because it’s now a goal, not just something I think I need to work on “at some point.” Some days I’ve already noticed I’m doing better at it than others…which brings me to my next point…
Don’t beat yourself up when you’re not living up to the vision all the time. The important thing is to work a little bit toward your vision every day—forward movement. Don’t speak badly toward yourself or speak negative words over something you have set yourself to do. This won’t help you towards what you want. Like falling off a bike, get up, brush yourself off, and get back on. Sitting on the ground scolding yourself isn’t going to get you where you want to go.
Seek out resources to help keep you motivated. If you like to listen to podcasts, or read books or blogs, there are endless resources available to you online, in bookstores, and in libraries. Find people who have succeeded in areas that you want to improve or excel, and learn what they did. Expose yourself to positive, inspiring stories of people who overcame the odds. That alone does wonders for me and keeps me going whenever I’m feeling discouraged.
Surround yourself with positive people who encourage you. Enough cannot be said for those who come alongside you to cheer you on. Even if you have only one such person in your life, you are very fortunate. Share your vision and let them keep you accountable, as well as inspired.
Don’t give up. There will be days when it’s hard to stay motivated, or to even remember you have a goal at all. Remember that everyone, at some point, feels like throwing in the towel. Those who do great things or live inspiring lives are the ones who don’t give up when they feel like quitting. Don’t let quitting be an option.
Believe. A little faith goes a long, long way. All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed and you can move mountains.
Be patient. Sometimes a mountain can be moved in one moment. And sometimes it is moved stone by stone. Keep pressing on. You never know when one little pebble may end up shifting everything into place for the life you’ve imagined.
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