Though I don’t believe we can only set goals when a new year rolls around, there is something magical about the clean slate of a year ahead. We flip the calendar page and feel excited about the possibilities and full of all kinds of good intentions about what we want to develop in the coming year.
Many folks dive in all gung-ho on January 1st. Their enthusiasm shifts their momentum into high gear. I’ve experienced myself before and have witnessed it many times over the years.
Despite frigid temperatures New Year’s Day in Ohio, I glimpsed dozens of walkers and runners out on the hiker/biker trails in the neighborhood. That’s what the energy of the New Year can do for your goals: give them the kick-in-the-pants you need to not just think about what you want, but take some action. It’s about the motivation, baby!
The problem, though, is that it isn’t long before the New Year isn’t quite so shiny. The energy fades. Momentum dissipates. We think about the goals or resolutions and feel zero enthusiasm.
I used to be a bit of a gym rat. For three straight years, I rose at 4 AM so that I could get a workout in before work. All the regular gym-goers use to dread how packed the gym would be in January. Yet, by February 8th, the crowds invariably thinned.
For that exact reason, many people will say that goals and resolutions don’t work. The truth is, if you are conscious about the way you create them, they can be incredibly powerful. Goals do work, my dear.
The reason you make goals, resolutions, or set intentions is because you desire more from your life than just existing or feeling as if you’re simply going through the motions. And just like I’ve mentioned that you do not have to settle in your life, let me be frank, my love: even if your life is wonderful, there is nothing wrong with desiring more.
So how can you take the clean slate a new year offers you, harness the energy of the season and the added motivation to create goals that have staying power? How can you stay dedicated to your desires when enthusiasm would normally fade?
Here are fourteen secrets for creating goals that stick:
- Don’t set yourself up for failure by being unrealistic. Has it been years since you exercised regularly yet you are wanting to get in shape this year? It’s easy to say “I’m going to work out every day”. You have to ask yourself if the goal is realistic for your lifestyle? Is it something that you can sustain when regular life kicks in? Don’t expect to go from couch potato to workout queen overnight. A more realistic goal might be: “I’m going to move more this year, so I’m going to commit to working out at least twice a week.”
- Honestly review your previous experiences. Be honest about what’s worked in the past and be especially honest about what hasn’t worked for you.
- Get specific, yet don’t tie yourself up. If you make broad, squishy goals like “lose weight” or “get out of debt” or “write a book” you’ll find it challenging to find any focus because the goal is so broad. Yet, don’t get so into the minutia of the details around achieving a goal that you feel restricted instead of motivated. A goal that meets these criteria may be: “I am going to finish my novel this year by committing to writing 5000 words a week”.
- Dive into the why of your goals. Why do you want to lose weight: to get healthy or to feel sexy? Why do you want to write a book: because your biz guru says you need one or because you want to create something with your craft? Hint: you get to be selfish and no one needs to know your why except you.
- Believe. We have to believe that improvement is possible and goals are reachable. Once we get past our own doubts and truly believe that’s so, we can begin moving the right direction. Have faith in the sheer power of your desires.
- Allow yourself to be excited. It’s easy to let the critics and the naysayers about goals and resolutions make us feel like we have to tamp down our excitement for our desires.
- Find ways to nurture your enthusiasm. It’s easy to be excited in the beginning, but just as it’s easy to lose the momentum after January shifts into February and beyond, it’s easy to lose enthusiasm for achieving our goals. Build into your days and weeks shots of love so you continue to nourish your precious attention and enthusiasm.
- Don’t set conflicting goals. We humans tend to believe that if we’re going to change things, we may as well change it all! We vow to make more money, spend more time with family, get organized, and get in shape, all in a single bound. But we have to be honest, darling. You cannot spend more time with family and work more hours, it just isn’t humanly possible. Check your ego at the door when you set goals and make a choice what area of your life gets priority.
- Write down your goals. A study of Harvard of MBA students showed that those who wrote down their goals made more money than those who didn’t. While money isn’t everything, it shows how committing your goals to paper helps you become more committed to achieving them.
- Break down your goals. Most of our desires are pretty big, so in order to bring them into reality, it will take a series of small steps. After you write down your goals, spend a little bit of time breaking it down into manageable steps.
- Commit to that first step. We humans tend to procrastinate as long as we can before doing a task, so without any deadlines, it’s unlikely you’ll do much. After breaking down those goals, set some deadlines for various milestones. Most importantly, set a date for taking that first step.
- Make space in your daily life for your goals. Without bringing your desires into your routines in some way, you’ll never have time to move towards them. This will likely mean you’ll have to give something up in order to make that space. You – and your desires – are worth it.
- Set up a plan to monitor your goals. You’d never decide to make a cake, put it in the oven, and then never set a timer or check on it, would you? You have to have a plan to monitor the progress of your goals. Set up a tickler on your calendar, a task on your phone, or commit to reviewing your goals the last Friday of each month. One of the reasons I send Become Besotted out on the 25th of each month is so folks have that email reminder to check in with themselves.
- Choose a focus. I’ve been using the Word of the Year process for more than a decade. After you set your goals, choose a word to help guide you and keep you on track when you’re tired or not sure what step to take. If you haven’t chosen a word, download my free ebook for subscribers: Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet: Define & Embrace Your Heart’s Beacon.