I know I’m hurrying things along – it’s smack-dab on January 1st, and I’m already talking about goals. I’m not the first, however; I’m seeing a lot of ads for exercise equipment and Fitbits already.
But the fact is: We seem prone to try to ‘start anew’ each year at this time, so why not anticipate it and get started early?
In line with that, here’s a quick list of things to encourage you to start something ASAP and continue through it this year:
- Start (very) Small. Last year Gwen started with a few steps on a block. Now she does an embarrassingly large amount every day, without exception. I tried to do a lot at once, and failed. Starting small, and increasing slowly is better than a big start, and an equally big end in a short while.
- Give yourself a quick win. We thrive on positive feedback. Pick something you know will be a slam dump. Say you know a second language. Then make a goal of simply talking in it for 5 minutes every day.
- Understand when the same old same old doesn’t work. Do you plan 30 goals, and give up on all of them by February? Then you already know what doesn’t work. So do something different – take a smaller group of things you’d really like to do and focus on them.
- Keep firing. On the other hand, if you set one or two goals, and they fail, why not set a few more? Perhaps five goals will give you one or two that will succeed. Everyone is different, of course, but remember, “if you don’t play, you can’t win.”
- Go with the flow. If you succeeded at something last year, do similar this year. Successful patterns are proven winners – so reuse them.
- Make concrete goals. This does two things. By making a concrete goal, you think about what you really want to accomplish. And this gets you thinking if you really want to do this. Learning Swahili, for example, is a goal. But thinking about it, you may realize you will never use it, and your time can be spent better elsewhere.
- Make valuable goals. “Losing weight” is a goal. “Fitting into that dress you’ve been holding for a special occasion for five years” is a valuable goal, one that means something. Realizing why you’re doing something can give you more oomph in your goal setting (and attaining)
- Plan to test. Likewise, figuring out how to “test” your results gets you thinking about what you really want. Getting back to language learning, it can be a lifelong goal with no real end to it. But if you determine mastery to be able to read a book and get most of the details out of it, or watch a program and understand most of it, now you have a solid way to measure and test your progress.
- Make visible goals. Write them down, and keep them where you will see them. Reminding yourself constantly is key. And while you’re at it, note the goals you reached in previous years. I’ve kept list of my “Top” goals attained in past years, to remind myself of what I have done, rather than focus on what I haven’t.
- Micromanage. Saying “I’m losing 50 pounds in a year” might be a good goal, but I can almost guarantee you’ll be trying to lose 49 of those next December! Instead, plan on four pounds lost for each month (or better yet, one pound a week), and you get quicker feedback on results. Quicker feedback means you can adapt, try new things, and attack the problem before it gets too far off track.
Hope these help. Now I have to get working on more of my goals (which not coincidentally includes more regular writing on Utopia Mechanicus!)