The New Year’s Holiday has come and gone. Have your resolutions gone already too? Or, did you set any at all?
I am a big believer in setting achievable goals, and then breaking them down into manageable tasks. (I learned a lot about goal setting from Money Saving Mom.) By achievable, I don’t mean you should keep your goals small. Instead, I mean the goal should be concrete. It should be clear whether or not you’ve achieved it successfully. Instead of stating a general idea like, “I will work out this year,” say something more concrete and measurable like, “I will do a fat-burning workout for at least 30 minutes, three times a week.” That you can measure. That you can actually achieve.
Setting goals can be a daunting task though. I think we should all set goals to keep us progressing forward, always bettering ourselves, especially in regards to health and happiness. But where do you start?
Think first about what you want in life. What weighs you down? What worries you? What do you dream about? Spend some quiet time thinking along those lines, and just jotting down notes as you go. What, you have no quiet time? Well there you go – goal #1! Carve out 30 minutes of quiet time every week!
Once you’ve got some rough ideas, review them, and pick a few that resonate most with you. I like to have at least one big challenge, and a few easier to manage goals. Pick your top contenders, the ones that will have the most impact on your life, and then rewrite them in the way described above – a way that is specific and measurable.
You can work with your notes, or you can pretty things up with goal worksheets. I used this Free Master Goal List Printable to list my goals in each area I’m working on this year – health/happiness, financial, volunteer work, doggy parenting, etc. I like to have things look organized and appealing. It’s more motivating to me. A Google search will produce lots of goal worksheets, so you can find one you really like.
Once you have your goals listed out, it’s time to break them down into tasks or steps. Again, these should be clear and precise. They should be easy to check off at completion, because they are definitely done. I use another Free Goal Worksheet Printable for this step.
Using the fat burning workout example above, you could break that down into a few steps. It might look something like this:
In 2012, I will do a fat burning workout for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
- Join Gym. (Or get tour of gym and learn how to use the machines.)
- Buy a pedometer.
- Map out 2 mile walking routes in safe areas using an online map program.
- Write the workouts into the calendar, and set up reminder alerts on phone.
- Walk the 2 mile routes, working up to a 4 mph per hour pace, to be able to finish 2 miles in 30 minutes.
- Start and maintain an online exercise journal to track progress.
- Check in at the end of each month to tally workouts, and plan for the coming month’s workouts.
Now comes the fun part – the reward! Decide your end date for your goal, and a reward if you’ve met it. For this example, I would set the first end date for March 31st, knowing I intend to go all year, but giving myself a shorter measuring period to keep it from feeling overwhelming. If this was my personal goal, I would reward myself with new workout clothes for Spring, to keep me motivated towards the end goal of keeping up the workouts all year.
Since I track goals in multiple areas, I like to fill out one master sheet per area, and one worksheet per goal listed on the master sheet. I keep them all in a binder, for easy reference, accountability, and motivation. And then I blog about it! One of the biggest keys to success is sharing your goals. Once you speak them out loud, or write them to share, you breath life into them. You make them real, and because others know about them, you want to achieve them even more. If you tell the right people – supportive, positive people – they will help you achieve them. And with some goals, especially where health is concerned, you can really use all the help you can get.
Want to know about my personal health and happiness goals for 2012? I’ll share them with you, and make it more likely that I’ll achieve them:
- Bring my A1C below 6. (I’m Diabetic, and this test measures my average blood sugar levels over a 3 month period.)
- Complete three half marathons. (There are a lot of small tasks to achieve for this one! And some not so small tasks, too.)
- Take at least 1 class per week from another yoga teacher, in the studio. (Lately, I’ve been teaching more than I’ve been learning.)
- Meditate for at least five minutes a day, every day. No matter what.
- Take swimming lessons from the hubster once a month (when he’s home). (I’m trying to learn to swim laps for exercise, and spend more time with him as well.)
My diabetic goal and my running goal are a little bit overwhelming. But by making them measurable, and by identifying several different tasks within each goal to break them down, they become much more feasible. I know I can do it!
If you’d like to read more about my personal goals, you can check out my post on my Volunteer Goals, or my post on my Financial Goals. Money Saving Mom has a wealth of posts about goal setting, and she also shares her goal progress every month, which always reminds me to check in with my own goals. In any area of life, a little bit of time spent on the web leads you to a wealth of resources and support. Look for motivation, not excuses. No matter what your goals, you are not alone in them. Identify them, write them down, say them out loud, share them, and work on them! And then come tell me about your success.
Happy (healthier and happier) New Year!