It’s almost that time of year again – New Year Resolutions! Millions of people around the world are vowing to lose weight, quit smoking, stick to a budget, and more. How many will actually follow through with these changes? Probably not many. Have you done this before? Have you made promises to yourself and not kept them? You are not alone. Why does it seem so easy to make changes in our lives, until we actually begin to do the work?
Change is hard. Most of us don’t stop to think about that when we set goals. We start out filled with passion, fire and excitement. We feel invincible and know we can accomplish whatever we desire. We see the glorious outcome of our desires shining before us, and we are determined to make it happen. Then we begin to encounter obstacles along the way. We may struggle halfheartedly through a few of them, but eventually we find ourselves making excuses, procrastinating and losing interest in those same goals we were so excited about before. What happened?
Goal setting involves much more than making a promise to do something. We need to equip ourselves with the right tools and mindset to ensure our success. There are several things we need to think about before we set goals:
Why? – What is your reason for wanting this particular outcome? It’s lofty to want to lose weight or quit smoking, but if you don’t have a clear, strong reason for wanting to do so, you will have no passion to fuel your efforts. What will you gain by making these changes in your life? What will you gain by not making changes? Oh yes, you are gaining something by keeping your bad habits around, or else you would have gotten rid of them long before now. Understand that, and acknowledge it. Be honest with yourself. Be clear about what you really want. Let’s say you want to quit smoking because you want to live a healthier life. Why? What will that do for you? It will improve your quality of life. Okay, why is that important to you? Keep asking yourself “why”, until you get to the “meat” of your desire. Be sure you understand exactly why these goals are important to you, and write it down. You will want to read it over and over again, especially when you feel your resolve crumbling.
Action Goals vs. Results Goals – Most of us make the mistake of setting results-oriented goals, rather than action goals. This is an important distinction. Setting a goal to lose thirty pounds is not a goal at all. It is an outcome. The goal should be to exercise and eat right – which will result in the loss of weight. We need to treat the problem, not the symptom. Make a note of the outcome you want, and then make a list of the actions that will get you there. Then make the actions your goal. Be specific. Rather than setting a goal to “lose weight”, decide how, when, how often, and for how long you will exercise each day. Decide what foods you will eat (or not eat), and how much of them. Set realistic and specific daily goals, and reward yourself when you accomplish them. Each day is an opportunity for victory.
Believe You Deserve It – Many of us struggle with low self-esteem, and feel we don’t really deserve success. Unfortunately, if we don’t believe we deserve it, we will resist it when it arrives. We may do this unconsciously by sabotaging our own efforts, or we may outright refuse to even try. We must first understand and then truly believe that we do deserve success and happiness. In addition, we must be consciously open to receiving it. We’re so good at giving to others, but many of us won’t accept help or blessings for ourselves. Be willing to believe that you deserve to be successful and happy. Then be willing to accept that success when it arrives. Give yourself the gift of better health, inner peace, more organization, a better job – whatever you are striving for in setting your goals. Affirm aloud to the universe each day, “I joyfully accept all of the abundance and success the universe has for me, NOW.” Remember that the more abundance you have, the more you will be able to help others also.
Commitment – One of the greatest secrets of success is simply not giving up. When we look at successful people, they seem to have it so easy. What we usually don’t see are the years of hard work, dedication and commitment that got them to where they are today. Many of them struggled through massive obstacles and setbacks, sometimes having to start all over again repeatedly. Are you that committed to your goals? Will you persevere no matter what? Make a promise to yourself that you will continue working toward your goals, even if you aren’t seeing the progress you hoped for. Be willing to work hard and continue working hard, even when – especially when – the going gets rough. When obstacles arise, fuel your persistence with positive thoughts and keep moving forward. Let your determination glow hot and bright, and burn away all doubts and fears. Don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes, simply get up and begin moving forward again.
Patience - Forming new habits takes time and practice. The good news is that countless people have proven it can be done. If they can do it, you can do it too. Give it your best effort, but don’t expect perfection from yourself. You may stumble and fall; you may grow weary of the battle. However, remember that anything worthwhile takes effort. Your goals and dreams are worth fighting for, no matter how fierce the battle, no matter how long it takes.
Most importantly, believe in yourself. Believe that you have the skills, ability and determination to make your dreams come true. That, above all else, will guarantee your success.