About this time of year I start thinking about goals for next year. Call them resolutions, call them verbally-stated goals, call them intentions. By the time January rolls around, I like to have a clear set of goals to use as a road map in 2013. I know some people resist this, but I never understand why because it’s so helpful, especially when it comes to your health.
Research shows that writing down goals makes it much more likely you will achieve them. I think that’s fairly obvious. It’s the same with setting arbitrary deadlines when you are a writer. If you don’t set deadlines and stick with them, it’s hard to get anything done. However, if you have a deadline you have set for yourself, or one an editor has set for you, you will complete your projects. With editors, I have never missed a deadline. In fact, I always turn in projects in advance.
I’m the same way with yearly goals. The reason for this is simple. I want to use this time before a new cycle begins to get clear on my intentions. I like to know where my path is going and how my goals will line up with that. A conscious gathering time if you will. As I gather mentally, I use my thoughts. I look at the goals from last year and usually have achieved 90% of those. I carry any over I still feel strongly about. As I gather spiritually, I use my dreams and intuitions. When both mind and spirit line up, I have my goals.
Those goals cross over into many areas including family, health, career, spiritual, fun, balance, finances, etc. The general categories shift from year to year for me. If I feel something was out of balance the year before, I try and compensate for that the following year. For example, last year in the personal development category I wanted to improve my public speaking skills so joined Toastmasters, but did not do as many speeches as I originally intended. I may look at that this year and decide on a specific number I want to get through, and make more room for that.
That leads me to specifics. It’s important with goal setting to be precise and broken into achievable steps. Let’s say we’re talking about dropping some weight. Rather than saying, “I will drop 20 pounds,” say “I will drop 2 pounds weekly for the next ten weeks.” The next step is to be specific about how you will do that. (Might I suggest making me your health coach!) Whatever your goal, break it down, be specific on your steps, and make them small and achievable.
It’s also crucial to write them down. I type mine out on an index card and carry them with me in my schedule book throughout the year. Periodically, I check it to see where I’m at. This helps me remember the path I had laid out and re-evaluate my journey. This is a working document, not one to be judged just as you wouldn’t judge a map. There are often many different routes to the same end and sometimes we just need to adjust our route to reach the same destination.
How do you feel about setting goals? Why?