How to Set Goals

“He went about his dull routine as if all the days of the world were still to come . . .”

Mitch Albom, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I am guessing that anyone who has made it to their 40th year has at least once in their lifetime wondered where the time went. Over the holidays, I was talking with a relative and realized we were talking about things that had occurred 30 years ago. How can that be when I don’t feel a day over . . .

If you are like me you have a laundry list of things you will do when you have a few free moments. The problem is there never is time and all of a sudden – well, the time has slipped away. Remember those 10 pounds you were going to lose? Well, now they are 30. Remember when you were going to quit smoking? That’s back when cigarettes cost a $1.75 a pack and you swore you would never spend $2.00 a pack.

I don’t mean to be harsh, so please forgive my directness – but, you’re not getting any younger. What are you waiting for?

Many of us dream of better lives, but figure there is always tomorrow. How many of us have made the same resolutions – year in and year out – only to promise ourselves to do better next year?

“This is the year that I . . .”

How do you want to finish that sentence? In order to achieve that goal, you need to take action, what is it? Let’s talk about your goal:

What you want and why? – Many of us grumble we want things to be better. This vague notion has no concrete meaning, thus how can we possibly move towards it. Instead, decide what you want (the goal) and why you want it (if it’s not personal it won’t motivate you).

Set a measurable, obtainable goal – A very common resolution is “I want to lose weight.” Without a measurable objective, it’s a wish not a goal. A clearly defined objective allows us to plan for its success.

• Develop an action plan – You’ve set your goal, now how do you get there? An action plan is a roadmap: it helps us turn our dreams into a reality.

• Set a deadline – Not unlike the vague goal of losing weight, without a deadline, there is nothing pushing us towards our goal. Set a time frame to accomplish your action plan in stages. Reassess your goal on a weekly basis.

• Bite-size steps – If you are having trouble accomplishing any goals by the specified time frames, are the time frames too strict or is the goal not at a small and manageable level?

• Don’t give up – Acknowledge that you will have successes and failures in achieving any worthwhile goal. It is in our nature to oppose change. If you fall off the proverbial horse, dust yourself off and climb right back on. Remember it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Be patient with yourself.

• Create Accountability – Tell your friends or coworkers about your goal. Post it on your Instagram account.  By making it public, you will be more inclined to stick with it when the going gets tough.

• Keep track of what (and how well) you’ve done – Always keep track of what the group has actually done. If the community change (a new program or policy) took significant time or resources, it’s also a good idea to evaluate what you have done, either formally or informally.

• Celebrate a job well done! Celebrate your accomplishments; you have worked hard, and you deserve it. Celebration helps keep you excited and interested in continuing.

Change is possible, but only if you personally want it. Understand, change means giving up our old ways, ways in which we’ve grown accustomed. But as we close doors to our old self, we open doors to a wonderful new life . . .

How to Set Goals

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