If you are among the many that set New Year’s resolutions, you probably began thinking about your goals for the new year sometime after the last holiday feast. Too often, many of us are disappointed by our efforts (or lack thereof) long before February rolls around. Rather than abandon your goals out of frustration, now is the time to take a closer look.
Here are 3 ways to take your resolutions from hope to completion.
Put it in writing. Your goals must be specific, measurable, and realistic. Did you write out a “Top 10”-style list and tape it to your refrigerator? If so, try going a little deeper. Re-write your goals and place them in categories, for example: Health, Relationships, Career, and Finances. Where are you right now in each of these areas? Write down an honest self-assessment. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “A dream without a date attached is just a wish.” Specifically, where would you like to be in each of these areas in the next 30, 60, or 90 days?Are your timelines reasonable, considering your time and other resources?“Lose weight” is not specific enough. “Lose 10 lbs. and lower cholesterol level by 20 points before my next doctor visit,” “Join local ‘couch to 5K’ walk/run group” are much more specific, measurable goals. What small steps can you take toward success, beginning today?
Get connected. Another essential piece to achieving your goals is having a few trusted individuals around you who not only support your goals, but share them. Last year, I experienced personal growth through a monthly group with 2 other friends who have similar professional and creative interests. We set goals and shared them with one another. We ended each meeting by sharing the steps we planned to complete between meetings. We broke our goals down in measurable steps, and the accountability of a supportive group helped boost motivation. When we didn’t have time to meet in person, we supplemented our meetings with conference calls. If improved relationships are a goal – whether marital, family, or friends, what small step can you take today toward improving your communication? Is there a conversation you need to have that you’ve been avoiding? Can you make a step toward reconciliation today, through a phone call or personal note?
Use a visual aid. Sometimes called a dream board, this can be a poster board or a simple 8×10 sheet of paper, containing pictures, words, and symbols of where you want to be and what you want to achieve. Try including some of your own personal photos – your family or favorite places you’ve visited. Take a few clippings of pictures and quotes that inspire you. Although there isn’t any magic in simply looking at poster, having something like this in your work space can be a daily visual motivator. We all have present limitations in one form or another, but this does not have to limit our vision for the future.
What if you try all these techniques, but still find yourself slipping? You pick up and keep moving. Revisit your goals monthly or at least quarterly. Slipping up doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it’s just another opportunity to start again…and you don’t have to wait for January 1 to start over.
Elicia McIntyre, a licensed clinical social worker, and graduate of Smith College School for Social Work, has 14 years’ experience providing counseling to adults, children and families in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. She has helped clients navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties. Elicia helps couples increase emotional intimacy, and foster healthy connections among family members.
She has spent the past 3 years traveling nationally and overseas, providing education and intervention to military service members and their families on communication, stress management and building healthy relationships.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004 or visit our “Let’s Get Started” page.