As we celebrate the new year, we often think of new year’s resolutions. I don’t hear people talk about them as often as I used to, but the topic still comes up. I think most of us consider resolutions a waste of time, as they’re usually forgotten by February.
But still, a new year can be thought of as a new beginning or a new start. We hope that this year will be better than the last, that we will finally make that positive change, or at least have better luck. We look toward the future.
While New Year’s resolutions often fail, there is a benefit to setting goals. Research shows that most top athletes and business people set goals. They often attribute their success to proper goal setting. Their goals help them focus their efforts and increase their motivation.
So, how do we set goals that actually make a difference? Here are some guidelines to consider.
Make your goals measurable.
A goal should be specific so it is easy to determine whether it was or was not met. Saying you want to be a better person is nice, but your success will depend on the day of the week and who you ask. Saying that you will show some act of kindness every day is a little more manageable. Saying you will be healthier is too vague. Saying you will love twenty pounds is measurable.
Give yourself a time frame.
Set a specific time where you will check your success or failure. Saying, “I will lose twenty pounds by March first” will increase your motivation and focus.
Don’t set too many goals.
We can become overwhelmed by too many goals. Keep the number at three or less at first. If you succeed at those, you can add more.
Visualize your success.
There is tremendous power in visualization. Picture the time when the goal is a reality. Imagine yourself twenty pounds lighter. Picture the project as already completed. Be as detailed in your visualization as possible. Notice what you see, feel and hear in that moment. Notice the look on your face. Notice how good you feel with your success.
Avoid self-criticism if you fail at a goal.
You will not succeed at every goal you set. When you do fail, just start over. Try to identify why you failed and make corrections. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t beat yourself up with them. Self-abuse never helps. It just crushes your motivation and morale.
As this new year rings in, consider how you want your life to look. Self-growth is a good thing. You often can improve your circumstances. For years I have said, “I want to live my life deliberately.” Be intentional. Set a goal or two this new year, and see what happens.