1. Stick to 1 or 2 important goals.
Having a laundry list of all the things you would like to change in your life can be overwhelming. Your chances for success are much higher if you stick to 1 or 2 of your most important goals. This allows you to concentrate all your energy and focus on these goals. Once you achieve those goals, you can always set 1 or 2 more.
2. Be realistic.
It’s okay to think big and want the best, but it is more important to succeed, so be realistic. Ask yourself whether or not your goals are reasonable and possible. It is probably not realistic to set the goal of never yelling at your kids again. How will you feel about your resolution when your children test you on a very bad day and you yell? Certainly one can cut back on yelling and work to find alternative ways to deal with misbehavior, but an all or nothing attitude may set you up for failure, and feeling like you’ve failed can set you up for more failure. Instead, accept and honor your humanness.
3. Be specific.
Be as specific as possible when determining goals. Articulate how you will measure success and exactly what you are trying to achieve. Setting a goal to lose weight is too general. A better choice would be to set a specific and manageable goal. For example say, "I will lose 25 pounds by June 30, 2005." Be specific when answering the what, when and how.
4. Connect to your motivation for achieving your goal.
Why do you want to achieve this goal? Why now? Make sure your motivation comes from your heart, and not from your head. In other words, your goal should be something you really desire, and not something you know you SHOULD do. Really connect to why this is so important to you. Pay attention to whether or not you are being driven by fear or love. Beware of setting goals based on what someone else in your life thinks you should do. Your resolutions should come from your authentic self.
5. Examine your belief in your ability to achieve this goal.
What do you believe about your ability to achieve your goals? If you have tried to reach the same goal many times before without much success, your confidence could be wavering. You could be feeding yourself negative messages without even realizing it. Be conscious about positive thinking. Remind yourself that you are capable of doing anything you set your heart to. Tell yourself every day that you have the ability to take the steps it will take to reach your goal.
6. Create a detailed plan to achieve your goal.
Let’s say your goal is to eliminate the clutter in your home. But how will you start when the clutter is overwhelming? It may be helpful to break large goals into intermediate, manageable steps. Make a list of each area you need to tackle. Then break each area into even smaller segments that can be tackled easily. For instance, set time aside to clean out old clothes, then to organize sweaters, then to throw out old shoes, and finally arrange clothing by color or type. Don't forget to specify a time limit for accomplishing each of the smaller steps. Before you know it, the larger goal will have been met.
7. Recognize that you may encounter obstacles.
Most people give up on their goals because they run into some type of obstacle along the way. Obstacles can be internal or external. Examples of internal obstacles include negative self-talk, limiting beliefs and discipline issues. Some external obstacles are the lack of time, money or resources. Know in advance what hurdles you may have to conquer.
8. Identify a plan of action to overcome obstacles.
If you are trying to give up chocolate (I would never try this!), what are you going to do when you get a craving for chocolate, or when all your friends are chowing down on chocolate cake? Maybe your plan would be to carry a sweet substitute with you at all times. Or perhaps you could involve yourself in a fun activity when the urge strikes. If your obstacles are tougher and you need more support, consider hiring a life coach to help you work through your blocks.
9. Enlist the support of an accountability partner.
As you work towards your goals, it can be very helpful to have someone in your life to be your support partner. Consider asking your partner or friend to help you stick to the goals you have set. Use this person when you are struggling and set up a plan to check in regularly with him/her. As a coach, I have the privilege of trading coaching services with my peers. My coach helps me achieve my goals, overcome any obstacles, and celebrate my success.
10. Celebrate success along the way.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is celebrate your small successes as you work towards your larger goals. Don’t wait until the end to reward yourself. You deserve to be recognized for your efforts and your commitment, especially when your goals take a long time to achieve. If you don’t celebrate on your journey, you will lose your motivation. So celebrate, celebrate, and celebrate!
Achieving your goals can be tough work sometimes, but it is also very rewarding. If you fall off your path, remember you can always get back on. It’s okay to take a few detours. It’s also okay to take a break to rest. Don’t beat yourself up or give up hope. Start again where you fell down and before you know it, you will be a pro at accomplishing your goals.
Procrastination is a deadly disease and it not only kills motivation but also your chances of success. Stop procrastinating right now and start achieving your goals.