10 Steps to Setting Achievable Goals

Colleen Webb
Good News

Christmas is around the corner, and it’s time to drag the boxes of decorations down from the attic and start hanging the lights! For many, this is also a time for reflection on the past year, and our lives in general, as we wonder where the time has gone.

As the year races to a close, this is a great time to hold a personal performance review. It is the prelude to goal setting for a fresh start; a new beginning for a new year.

Often it doesn’t take much for us to acknowledge that we need to make some changes. However, it is far more difficult to actually make those changes; to lose those extra pounds, get out of debt or build your savings. Knowing how to set effective goals can make the difference between another failed set of New Year’s resolutions and making lasting changes in your life.

Step one:
Take time over the next week to daydream. If there were no limits and you were guaranteed success, what would you like to do with your life? What were the things you loved doing or dreamed of becoming as a child? What are the things you love doing the most now? Pay attention to your natural talents, abilities and passions. These are clues to discovering God’s unique design for your life. Make a list of dreams without limits and then set it aside for a couple of days to percolate.

Step two:
Review your list after at least 48 to 72 hours. Identify the top few items that mean the most to you and cross out anything that conflicts with your value system, are other people’s goals, or are mutually exclusive to your top choices. Write down the remainder on a fresh sheet of paper. Writing down goals makes them more real and increases your commitment level, significantly increasing your likelihood of achieving them.

Step three:
Break down your list of goals into three categories: 10 years or more, 5 years, and the year ahead. For example, a 10-year goal may be to switch careers, a 5-year goal may be to get the degree needed to switch careers, and a 1-year goal may be to begin studying and lose 10 pounds.

Step four:
Check your language and make sure you have written your goals in positive terms using encouraging language.

Step five:
Write down the benefits of achieving your goals. Many people find it helpful to create a vision board for this. Collect pictures to remind you of how great it will be to reach your goals and collage them into a picture frame that you can keep in a prominent place as a daily reminder.

Step six:
Rewrite your list for the year ahead as specifically as possible, dividing your goals into segments and individual steps. Follow the “S.M.A.R.T.” guidelines for this, keeping your steps specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-limited. Your steps should be small and progressive, realistic and suited to your present capabilities, but challenging enough to push you a little. You want to keep them attainable, otherwise you may get frustrated and be more likely to give up. In the example above, the year-ahead goals were to begin studying and to lose 10 pounds. These items could be broken down into individual segments such as review study programs, apply for financial aid, or consult a nutritionist.

Step seven:
Invest in a planner and write your goals in pencil for each month. Pencil is important because flexibility is key to success. You want to be able to adjust up or down as you go. From your monthly list you can further break down your steps into weekly objectives, keeping track of how you are doing each week and adjusting your monthly goals as needed.

Step eight:
Check your attitude. Monitor your “self-talk” and keep it positive and encouraging.

Step nine:
Involve a support team. Make your goals public by telling family and friends so they can encourage you and help keep you accountable.

Step ten:
Start now! Don’t wait another day, and remember that if you slip up just push your restart button immediately! Learning to get back up and get going again after you fall down is key to making progress.

So start now, carve some time for yourself out of the pre-Christmas rush and get to work on your daydreaming! It could change your life!

Colleen Webb is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Life Coach with offices in Weston. You can contact her at CreativeHealingTherapy.com or via email at [email protected].

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