If you are like the majority of us, then you spent the last couple of days in 2010 coming up with your goals for 2011. You may have decided that 2011 would be a good year to lose a few pounds, save a few more dollars, or reduce the length of your commute. Coming up with our list of goals is not usually an issue… it’s sticking to them. Here are 10 simple strategies you can use to help you turn your resolutions into a reality.
1. Choose realistic goals. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is biting off more than we can chew. We need to make sure that the goals we are setting are actually attainable. By setting attainable goals we avoid setting ourselves up for failure.
2. Don’t make too many goals. Try not to make too many different changes all at once. Sometimes we can get a little ambitious with what we want to accomplish in a year. You risk burning yourself out and you won’t accomplish any of your goals, which will only leave you feeling disappointed and defeated. Instead, focus on a few key areas that are important to you and take the steps you need to reach them.
3. Write your goals down. Write out your goals and a plan for achieving them. This can be really motivating and it will help you to make your goals specific and force you to commit to your resolutions.
4. Set attainable goals. If you have a really ambitious goal, make sure that you have smaller, attainable goals with measurable results along the way. They’ll help you track your progress and prevent you from getting board or discouraged. For example, if you want to lose 25 pounds, your first goal could be to lose 5 pounds. An added benefit of setting smaller, attainable goals is that even if you don’t reach your ultimate goal, you will still have achieved other accomplishments along the way.
5. Tell others about your goals. Telling friends and family members about your goals means that people will be holding you accountable and supporting you along the way. Having those you care about cheer you on can make a huge impact on your ability to stick with your plans. It helps keep you motivated and committed.
6. Keep a Diary. Tracking your progress with each goal is a great way to stay motivated. Even if no one else sees your journal, it can help hold you accountable. It’s also a good way to see your progress along the way. When you hit a rough patch, you can go back and get inspired by how much progress you have made. Reviewing your positive steps also make it harder to go back to your old habits. You can use a simple notebook or any of the online websites like 8goals.com, mymotivator.com, or goalmigo.com .
7. Make a schedule. Deciding on when to do something isn’t always going to work. Look at your weekly schedule and figure out when you’re most likely to feel productive and set that time to work towards your goal. Get everything you need to help you accomplish you goal ahead of time so that it is harder to make excuses. For example, if learning how to run is one of your goals, get your running shoes and clothes ready so that you can’t say ‘my clothes are in the wash’ as a reason to not go for a run. A schedule will help you make consistent progress towards your goal.
8. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are going to experience some setbacks on the road to achieving your resolutions. Don’t let one or two slip ups make you give up. Think of these moments as an opportunity to grow and learn. Don’t try to be perfect…no one is. Keep your chin up and stay positive. Remember the phrase ‘try, try, and try again.’
9. Give yourself rewards. If you have reached a mini goal or a certain milestone like sticking with your resolution for a month, treat yourself to something special. Ideas could be a massage, a bubble bath, a day free of chores, or a dinner of your favourite meal. When I set the goal of running my first marathon a few years ago I treated myself with chore free Saturdays where I would curl up on the couch and watch my favourite shows and get into a great new book. It was my day to relax and recharge.
10. Find a team. Sticking to your goals is much easier when you have a back up. If you have specific goals, try to find someone in your life that has a similar goal and work together with them. You’ll learn more about the task at hand and will be motivated to make progress if you know there is someone that is expecting you. For example, when I first started running, I ran with a run club. We met Saturday mornings. I would feel bad not showing up when I knew they were expecting me. The social aspect of having a buddy keeps you from getting board. Not only does it improve your relationship but it also allows you to encourage each other and celebrate as you hit milestones.
See, reaching our goals is possible, we just need to have a good plan in place. So, how do you plan on sticking with your goals in 2011? Please share.