Most of us get very excited about our resolutions early on, but within a couple weeks we start losing hope, tapering off, and then abandoning our lofty dreams. That’s because we’ve been lead to believe resolutions should be big, life-changing, dramatic, and an all-year thing. In essence, we’re doing it wrong. These resolutions sound good in our heads, but they are vague, weak little things that deserve to shrivel up and be forgotten.
Lose Weight Get Fit Save Money Get Out of Debt Eat Right Reduce Stress Get a Better Job
These are not goals, they are simply ideas that goals should be built upon. The ideas, though noble, are not strong enough to stand on their own. Goals should be specific, accomplishable, and written down. Anything less is just a wish. Here are a few things to hammer your goals into shape.
1. Be Specific – Goals need to include small, manageable things you can change. Instead of “get fit,” your goal should be more like “walk 20 minutes every day” or “eat vegetarian or vegan meals 3 days a week.” These are things you can accomplish.
2. Make a Plan – Outline the steps you will need to take to reach your specific goal. A plan will let you know which bite-sized chunks you can chip away at each day or week.
3. Write it Down – Put pen to paper and write out your goals along with all the steps you need to take. Put it someplace you will see often and refer back to it so you can mark off those steps as you tackle them. Nothing motivates like seeing progress, no matter how small.
4. Make Time – Part of your planning should have revealed how much time each step will take. Now that you know, make sure to open up the time. If you are walking 20 minutes a day, you know you need to block out those 20 minutes. If you are eating 3 vegan meals this week, you know you need to make room to research a few recipes, shop, and make those meals.
5. Want It – Goals always work better if they are something you want to do, not just something you know you should do. Make sure you want your goal. Make it fun. Make it something that speaks to you and your unique little soul. That will make it something you love, rather than a chore.
6. Limit Yourself – Don’t go making 30 resolutions. Stick to one or two at a time. If you reach your goals, who’s to say you can’t start a new resolution mid-year? There are no rules against it.
7. Visualize Daily – I’ve said it before and I will say it a million times more—the brain is a powerful piece of hardware we don’t use. Visualizations work because the brain and body have a hard time telling the difference between an actual event and one we imagine. It is why we sweat and our hearts race when we read intense books or we laugh out loud at random memories that pop in our heads. You can banish doubt and negativity by imagining yourself succeeding. Picture yourself as fit, lean, eating vegetables with a smile on your face, running a 5k, or dancing in front of a cheering audience. See your success and encourage yourself every step of the way. Seriously, it works. Use it.
8. Be Accountable – Get yourself a partner, someone who wants to reach the same goal, and keep each other accountable. You can also tell others your goals and encourage them to check in on how well you are completing the steps you have outlined. Accountability can make all the difference in following through.
9. Make Changes – You can’t accomplish goals without making changes. You will have to break some habits and adapt. This will be a little painful, but if you know it is coming and you have your plan, it is possible.
10. Reconnect with Yourself – Stress and depression are the enemies of your goals. You need to take a moment each week or even daily to reconnect with yourself, let go of stress, and feel good about what you have decided to do. Meditation is a good way to do this. Quietly listening to music while exploring your thoughts is another way. Yoga, tai chi, hiking, prayer, do what you know works for you to calm down and refocus.
11. Forgive – We, as human beings, are pretty tough on ourselves. Don’t try to deny it. We have an inner critic who just loves to point out our mistakes and mock us for our failures. Forgiveness silences this critic. Forgive yourself often. You will miss a step on your outline or slip up on a weekend when you felt you needed a pick-me-up. These are natural and do not have to derail your progress as much as that critic says they will. Forgive, smile, even laugh at your mistakes, then pick up your plan and focus on where you need to go next. You can do it. I have faith in you and you should too.
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