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Goal Setting for the Backslider

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year again. Somehow after the surfeit of holiday feasts, we start thinking about getting our act together. And those New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner. We want to lose weight, learn a new language, conquer clutter, run a marathon, or any number of other worthy ambitions. In short, we want to achieve something significant.

So what’s a well-meaning, able-bodied person to do? Set goals, of course.

But that’s not the hard part, is it? The hard part is staying the course. What’s to keep us from giving up and running right back into that same old rut? Well, the blogosphere will be running amok with suggestions this month. And while I hate to be cliche or add to the noise, I myself struggle with goal setting every year.

My conclusion: there’s no substitute for action.

Earth-shattering, I know. But the hard fact is you have to do the work. You can try new methods or somebody else’s system, but there’s no miracle cure. In order to accomplish any goal, you will have to work at it. That said, I think there are ways to make the work more palatable and manageable. So this year, my goal for making goals, is to keep it simple, measurable, and fun.

Keep it simple: Be as clear and specific as possible with each of your goals. Don’t say: “I want to run a marathon.” Rather, say: “I want to run the Dash It All For Glory Marathon in July.” And don’t go crazy and end up with 15-20 goals. The odds are you won’t finish any. Instead, choose a handful of big goals, maybe 4-6 first string players. Since it’s unlikely that each goal will take a whole year to complete, choose a few smaller goals as well. Once you complete a major goal, you can plug in one of the smaller goals. A cycle of success will be established.

Keep it measurable: Drill down each goal into smaller objectives. Make daily, weekly, and/or monthly targets. When you break down a big goal into smaller chunks, it seems less intimidating. Running 26.2 miles sounds pretty daunting, but running a mile by the end of the week sounds doable. Incremental change and growth is the key.

Keep it fun: If you’re getting zero pleasure out of chasing a goal, why are you doing it? It’s time to remember why you made this goal in the first place. And check your attitude. Choose to be positive. You do have control over how you view and handle situations and tasks. Choose to be a winner, and enjoy the process!

That’s my goal anyway! What about you? Do you plan on setting goals for the new year?


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