How to Reach Your Goals in 2012
Have you noticed that most people are pretty unrealistic when they set New Year’s resolutions? They set out goals like these . . .
- I am going to lose five pounds a month.
- I am going to go to the gym every day.
- I am going to buy an SAT workbook, study an hour a night, and take the test this year.
- I am going to read one book a week.
- I am going to go back to college in 2012.
- I am going to redecorate one room in my house every month.
- I am going to save $1,000 a month.
Those are lofty goals. But they are also unreasonable and very hard to achieve. Because they all set up weekly or monthly timetables, they are actually invitations to fail. If you haven’t lost five pounds or finished four books by the end of January, you can just quit and not even think about your resolutions for the rest of the year. “I blew it again this year,” you think, “so maybe I’ll try again starting next December.”
So what are the keys to setting New Year’s resolutions that you can actually achieve? Here are some strategies to apply . . .
- Be kind to yourself. If you read the resolutions in the bulleted list above (“I am going to lose five pounds a month” and the rest), you will see that they are really self-accusations in disguise. You are really saying that you have gotten overweight, never exercised or read enough books and have a messy house. You are using those resolutions to beat yourself up and for that reason, they are anti-motivational. To set resolutions that you are motivated to reach, state them in forgiving terms like, “I will buy a cookbook that contains recipes for healthy entrees and prepare one or two of them a week.”
- Set specific goals. “I am going to go back to college in 2012” might be motivational, but it is not specific enough to achieve. A goal like, “I will identify and visit community and other colleges in my state where I could go,” is more focused, and more likely to succeed.
- Break big resolutions down into bite-sized morsels. Instead of saying you will save $1,000 a month, decide that you will save money by laying in a supply of pre-prepared salads from Trader Joe’s and take them to work instead of buying lunch every day in the coffee shop down the street. Or instead of saying that you will read a book a week, say that you will read books during your daily commute instead of listening to music on your iPod or sending texts to friends. Small, friendly changes are easier to stick to than major life revisions.
- Build an entry point into your resolutions. Instead of saying that you will go to a gym every day, say that you will investigate local health clubs during the first two weeks of January and then join one. Or instead of saying that you are going to go back to college, start gradually by taking some courses online.
You really can set resolutions that will help you reach your goals in 2012 – for your education, health, home and more. But they all start by setting goals that are reasonable, achievable, and kind.
Best wishes for every success in 2012.
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