04 January 2010

Goal setting strategies for the New Year

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist

Goal Setting for the New Year

It is the New Year, 2010. We will all be making goals to improve ourselves from the previous year. Lose 20 lbs, write that letter to a friend, start donating, spend more time with family, and so on. However, most New Years goals don’t make it to Valentines Day.

Last year, I got myself a pass to the YMCA in January so that I could swim early in the morning. It worked well, for the first three weeks. Than it died off. The ‘Y’ staff told me that they see the greatest increase in yearly passes in January. January is also their busiest month. Than by Valentines Day, it dies down to normal levels. Why? A lot of people made a New Years goal they couldn’t keep.

Before talking about how to set goals, let’s first distinguish between a goal and a wish. A goal is something that you can do. Such as going to the gym and working out. A wish is a desire that includes someone else, such as wanting you and your spouse to go to the gym together, or wanting your children to clean their rooms daily. You have no control over wishes, but you have control over your goals. So make sure when you come up with goals, that they aren’t dependent on someone else’s actions.

Now, the steps for setting goals. There are a variety of “steps” out there. However, all of them contain the same principles.

First, choose what you want changed. Make sure this desired change is real. This can be a physical, spiritual, mental or emotional goal. Make sure this goal can be met within your daily routine and is consistent with who you are.

Second is to write this goal down. Place it on the fridge, in the bathroom, or somewhere you will see it a lot.

Third, set a deadline. Be specific with what you need to do to reach this deadline. Say you want to loose 15 pounds in six months. What do you need to do for those 24 weeks to loose the weight? Walk to work, play that Wii Fit, and eat less sugar and fatty foods, just as an example. Those are secondary goals; goals that help you reach your primary goal.

Fourth, hold yourself accountable. When you reach your secondary goal reward yourself in whatever way you want. Make the rewards proportionate to the goal. So if it is a minor goal reached, reward yourself with a minor reward. The bigger the goal reached, the bigger the reward. If you don’t reach your secondary goal, than you don’t get a reward.

For extra motivation, tell someone who can remind you about your goals. This isn’t necessary, but it may be helpful. It may help you work towards your deadline if someone is there to remind you and encourage you.

Remember to take the action. Do your goal. Don’t waste your time. Goals need to be paced, but they are absolutely achievable.

Good luck with goal setting in 2010!