Friday, November 9, 2012

Tips for Creating Goals You May Actually Keep This New Year

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard
New Year's Resolutions postcard (Wikipedia)
by Marquita A Herald

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us ~ Hal Borland.

Whether we want to think about it or not, 2012 is quickly coming to a close.

The few remaining weeks in the year will become ever busier with holiday preparations, year end business activities and, for those most ambitious among us, a last ditch effort to ace a few remaining goals.

Soon enough, our thoughts will turn to our hopes for the New Year.

While admittedly there is something encouraging and hopeful about starting a fresh calendar for a New Year, I will be honest ... I'm not a fan of New Year's Resolutions.

Rather than being part of any sort of meaningful life plan, the things that usually end up on New Year Resolutions lists almost always fall into the category of things we think we should do ... which also means our heart may not really be into doing the actual work to succeed.

In fact, it's no secret that each year many more resolutions are broken than are ever kept. So why is it that we continually fail on such a grand scale in this annual attempt to make our lives better, richer and more fulfilling?

Let's take a look at a few of the typical challenges awaiting New Year Resolutions, and see if any of this sounds familiar ...

  • We wrap up our year in December, take a few days off for the holidays, then throw together a list of resolutions (organize our home and office and do a better job of managing our time, eat healthier, lose weight, go back to school, find love) so we have something to aim for come January 1.
  • We decide to start by organizing the kitchen for greater efficiency, and begin cooking healthier meals. But instead of taking the time to organize and use what we already have, we take advantage of the year-end sales to buy a bunch of colorful new storage containers, only to end up with even less room because of all the new stuff. Plus we hadn't thought about how much time it might take to find "healthy" recipes and put together a grocery list, and we haven't had time to shop, and besides there are still so many holiday leftovers in the fridge. This is harder than we thought ... maybe we should have started with another goal?
  • Other things keep getting in the way. It's crunch time at work because everyone is playing catch up after the long holiday, and you end up grabbing sandwiches and chips off the food cart and eating at your desk every day this week. You're too tired to even think about organizing anything, grocery shopping or cooking, in fact you've been living on pizza and leftovers when you finally do stumble in the door at home ... whew! Rather than feeling like a failure by openly throwing in the towel, we keep telling ourselves we are really going to start making some serious progress ... just as soon as we're not so busy.

To create goals you will be more likely to keep this year ...

Before creating a whole new batch of goals for the New Year, take some quality time for self-reflection to identify what you've learned, and real change that has occurred during this year.

Now I'm not talking about taking a few minutes to jot down what pops into your mind. True reflection takes time because not all accomplishments and lessons are BIG and obvious, and often personal transformation happens so gradually that you hardly recognize it's occurring at all.

This will give you the opportunity to be proud of, and own, your accomplishments - big and small - before committing to further personal growth ... which you will be able to do with greater self-confidence as a result of this exercise.

Here are a few self-reflective questions to help you get started.

  • What was the single best thing that happened to you this year?
  • Did you experience any unexpected challenges or roadblocks? How did you overcome them? What would you do differently next time?
  • With whom were your most valuable relationships?
  • What was the biggest thing you learned this year?
  • Did you lose a loved one this year? What did you learned from how they lived their lives and how will you honor them in the coming year?
  • What books did you read? What plays did you see?
  • What was your single biggest accomplishment this year?
  • Pick three words to describe 2012.

Why not give this a try now while you have the time to do some quality planning before the end of the year? You may just be surprised (and pleased) with what you learn about yourself!

Imagine it is 365 days from today ... what must have happened for you to feel the year has been wildly successful financially, professionally, personally, socially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually?

Here's a quick reference list of steps to take to help you achieve more goals:

  • Set goals that align with your major priorities in life.
  • Commit to making intentional choices daily that will keep you on track.
  • Break goals down into manageable chunks.
  • Create strategies to deal with unplanned challenges (think Plan B, maybe even Plan C).
  • Keep track of your progress. The more monitoring you do, the better you will do.
  • Sensibly reward yourself for good behavior (don't let the reward become your priority).
  • Regularly revisit your priorities and vision for the life you are working to create for yourself.

Once you've taken the time to become clear about where you are now, and established your priorities ... setting meaningful, far more achievable, goals for the New Year should be much easier, because they will simply be the stepping stones and tools you'll use to continue on the journey you've designed to create your own life experience.

Marquita is a transformation guide, the creator of the life by design blog IGG - Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas, and the author of three books - Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience, Inspirational Words of Wisdom for Challenging Times, and It's Your Time Now - A Guide to Living Your Life by Design.

To learn more about her books and the power you have to create your own life experience, please visit her blog IGG - Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas at: http://www.inspiredgiftgiving.com

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