How to Plan for Your Goals—and Then Reach Them
It’s the middle of February, so it’s probably safe to say that a decent percentage of people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, there is data to support my hypothesis.
But don’t be discouraged if you haven’t actually seen the inside of the gym this month, despite your good intentions. Your inability to stick to your resolution might be linked to how you framed your goals when you set them.
As the Cheshire Cat said in Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Just because you weren’t able to stick to your resolution doesn’t mean you no longer want to get in shape or spend more time with your kids or retire five years early. You just didn’t give yourself the right tools to reach your goal.
So, how do you decide where you are going? And, more importantly, how are you going to map your course to get there? The Internet is full of helpful advice about setting and attaining goals, so I picked some of the highlights to help you get started.
Saving a million dollars by the end of the year with a fifty-thousand-dollar salary is probably not going to happen. However, saving a million dollars by the time you retire might just be possible if you invest early and wisely. The SMART and CLEAR methods are good places to start when you are ready to begin drafting your list of goals. Consider your goals within the framework of these methods, then tweak as needed to formulate a realistic plan.
Break Big Goals into Small Goals
You aren’t going to fulfill a lifetime goal in one sitting. Take a close look at all the steps you need to take to accomplish these big goals, then break those steps out into ten-year, five-year, yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily tasks and milestones. Focusing on the details one at a time will lay the foundation for meeting the larger goal.
Write Them Down
Committing your goals to paper creates accountability and gives you a way to review and remember what you want to accomplish. One study showed that writing down goals and sharing them with a friend significantly increases your likelihood of achieving those goals.
State each goal as a positive statement. It’s more motivating to work toward something you want versus something you are trying to get away from. “Invite a friend to lunch twice a month” is much more enticing than “Stop being such an antisocial curmudgeon.”
The goal-setting tips above are some of the most popular, but there is some nontraditional advice out there you also might draw from when creating and pursuing your goals.
Grab a notepad and pen (if you’re old-school) and try some of these goal-setting techniques. Perhaps this year when New Year’s Eve rolls around, you will already be well on your way to achieving some personal and professional goals. Then you’ll be free to resolve not to make any more resolutions.