Goal Setting for the New Year

Posted: December 27, 2011 in Writing

At the beginning of each year, many people set new goals for themselves. Unfortunately, many of those same people find themselves falling short of those goals or giving up on them all together within just a few weeks of setting them. The reason for this is simple. They just came up with the idea of the goal, but didn’t take the time or effort to make a plan for achieving the goal.

Think about it. Whether a short term goal like cleaning the house or buying a car, or a long term goal like getting in shape or retiring from work, goals are important, so why not put a little effort into planning them? No matter what the goal or how long it will take to achieve it, there are two essential components that are necessary for success, a plan and a clear cut definition of how success will be defined.

As strange as it may sound, the second component should be defined before working on the first part. After all, it will be difficult to lay out a step by step plan for achieving a goal if you aren’t clear on what the goal is, or when you have reached it. You can’t draw a map to someplace if you don’t know where the place is, right? So first, define the goal in clear and unambiguous terms. Don’t set a goal that you want to lose weight, decide on exactly how much and by when. Don’t decide to buy a car, decide on exactly what car and when.

Thinking about the end of the goal and what will define success will help you determine what is achievable and realistic. Deciding to lose twenty pounds in six months is a realistic attainable goal; deciding to lose thirty pounds by next weekend is not. What kind of car can you realistically afford? When can you afford to retire comfortably? Decide on and define an attainable goal in clear and specific terms and you are half way to achieving success.

Next is the plan to achieve that goal. This part can sometimes be overwhelming, but it can be made much easier if you take an organized and systematic approach to it. Get out a piece of paper and start by listing the major steps to achieving the goal. Then break those major steps into smaller steps and continue the process until each step is a small and simple task that is easy to accomplish.

The weight loss goal is the easiest example. Let’s say you want to lose twenty pounds in six months. In that case, the major steps are to lose three to four pounds a month, and then to lose a pound a week. Losing twenty pounds may seem like a difficult and overwhelming job, whereas losing a pound isn’t.

Next under each of these minor steps or tasks, define exactly how you are going to accomplish them. If the task is too difficult to define an easy way to finish it, then it is overly complex, so break it down some more. Again, using the weigh loss goal, losing a pound means you need to eat 3500 less calories in a week, or exercise enough to burn 3500 extra calories in a week. Okay, 3500 calories seems like a lot, so let’s break it down some more. Instead of 3500 calories a week, you need to lose 500 calories a day. Now you are only looking at a five mile walk, or four less sodas, or any combination.

Using that example, you can define and achieve any goal on your list, whether long or short term. Whether planning for retirement or cleaning out the refrigerator, break the job down into ever small tasks until each individual task becomes as easy and attainable as laying of the soft drinks for a day and you will see success in your goals, whatever they may be.

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