As we officially cross into the New Year, we begin to look forward to all of the great things we hope to accomplish, as well as continue to build on the previous year’s success. This time of year often provides what some consider to be an opportunity to start fresh. Traditionally one may christen this clean slate with setting various and lofty resolutions pertaining to career, education, physical and mental well-being, and more. Often easier said than done, a new years resolution usually keeps us motivated for several weeks, maybe even months if you’re lucky, but as the time goes by we tend to forget what we promised ourselves on January 1. Most of the time we can attribute this lack of follow through to ineffective or unrealistic goal setting, and even though it may seem an easy and repetitive topic, goal setting is a valuable and powerful tool if done correctly. Here are a few tips to help you accomplish all that you are aspiring to in 2016.
Identifying the finish line. The most important step is to identify why you are setting the goal in the first place. For some, 2016 may not be the year that you accomplish your main long-term goal, as it may realistically take more than a singular calendar year to do so. Once you have an idea of what your long-term goal is and how long it may realistically take (1 year or more) to accomplish, write it out starting the statement with the word “I” - for example, “I will graduate from college in December 2016.” Starting your goal with “I” allows you to take ownership and control of your goal. Incorporating illustrations, symbols, and drawings that symbolize your goal into your goal statement is very beneficial and highly recommended, especially if you are a visual person (For example, having a picture of a diploma degree and the expected date of graduation). After doing so, make copies and post them in several places that you are likely to see it – such as your kitchen fridge, office desk, or bedroom wall so that you are reminding yourself daily what your long term goal will look like when you accomplish it.
Making Mile Markers. Having your finish line in sight is very crucial to staying motivated and following through with your goal, but another vital step is to create mile markers for yourself or what I call “mental markers”. These markers that you create will help you stay on track when working your way towards the finish line (long term goal) and will simplify what you need to focus on in the present moment. Think of the markers as short-term goals that can be broken down into monthly or weekly goals that will progressively assist you in accomplishing your main long-term goal. Once you have created your mile markers for your long-term goal, think of the most effective way to keep track of your progress whether it is making electronic reminders in your phone or adding them to your monthly calendar.
Focusing on the Process. Once you have completed the first two steps you should have a pretty clear idea of what you need to do and when you need to do it, but how you do it still left unanswered. While both identifying your finish line and creating mile markers are important, what you actually do day in and day out is the real work load. Referring back to the previous graduation example, you know when you want to graduate (December 2016) and what you need to do in order to graduate (having a good GPA, completing all your classes etc.) but the actual process (quality of studying, attending class, quality of completed assignment etc.) is what you will be focusing on daily. Using the example above, think of the day-to-day tasks (no more than five) that you will need to complete on a regular basis in order to effectively reach your mile markers, which ultimately lead to your finish line.
Giving Yourself Credit. At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do to help yourself reach your goals and when we are busy trying to get to the finish line, we tend to forget to take a break and give ourselves credit for what we have accomplished. What fun is goal setting if you don't give yourself credit and savor the accomplishment? Answer: not much. After completing your day-to-day goals and monthly mile markers, don't hesitate to give yourself credit for all of your hard work and dedication. Valuing our feats and successes, whether they are small or large, motivates us to continuing striving for future success.
Remember, make this year your year!
Feel free to contact us if you are interested in receiving more in-depth assistance in creating an effective goal setting plan for yourself or for a group.