Well, there’s nothing like putting your New Year’s Resolutions on your blog to really cement them in your mind, and in the minds of your readers…  but I do LOVE this time of year.  Right about now, I feel weighed down by the excesses of Christmas and ready to make a clean fresh start in the New Year. It’s time for healthier eating and aspirational thinking.

For the past few days, I’ve been jotting down notes on things I’d like to accomplish this year, and that makes a perfect place to start.  If you are new to goal setting (and that’s what Resolutions are) it can be overwhelming, so I’ve laid out guidelines that I use to help me set good goals and accomplish them:

  • Create clusters of goals in all areas of your life.  My brother turned me on to this type of goal setting, and I love it because it’s wholistic. This does require a little self analysis, but in my book, that’s always time well spent.  I’ve created the following categories that feel like they envelope my inner and outer life, yours may differ:
    • Physical
    • Spiritual
    • Mental
    • Financial
    • Family
    • Home
  • Craft goals around what you really want to achieve.  For me, this means that while I have a definite interest in arts and crafts, I have a more intense and urgent desire  to write.  I also got to the end of the year feeling like I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted to with my writing, which lets me know I have more room to grow in that area.  I will therefore create writing goals to focus my energy on work on my writing craft.  I will undoubtedly do something crafty this year (I hope) but I’m not going to create a resolution around it. This is about focusing on what is truly important to you. It’s deeply personal, and is a sure way to change the direction of your life over time.
  • Create reasonable short term, long term, and stretch goals where appropriate.  And it’s appropriate if your goal is large, undefined, or complex.  Some goals don’t require further breakdown, and that’s okay too.  The key is be realistic about where you are, and about what you can reasonably accomplish this year.  If you live 3 hours from the beach and you work a demanding full time job, surfing daily might not be a reasonable goal.  But if your dream is to relocate so you can surf every day, a reasonable short term goal would be to investigate real estate and job markets in potential beach towns. Your mid term goals could be to interview with 3 companies in the next year. And your long term goal would be to move closer to the ocean.
  • Align your goals.  Set goals in one category that reinforce and support goals in other categories.  I have daily walking, meditation, and writing goals.   It could be a huge time commitment if I don’t allow my goal categories to overlap, but I’ve decided that walking, writing, and sitting meditation are all acceptable.  There will be days I can do all three separately, and surely there will be days it will be a struggle to fit in just one.
  • Give yourself permission to be imperfect.   Setbacks can be part of the process, but nothing leads to failure faster than setting the bar too high and missing it. So in addition to paying attention to setting reasonable goals, be your own coach.  I don’t mean the angry yelling coach, but the kind, all knowing gentle coach that gives you the words of encouragement you need to keep trying.  Give yourself a kind pep talk, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and try again.
  • Take time to assess and regroup.  I accomplish goals in fits and starts, and I don’t accomplish every goal that I set.  If you have a 100% success rate, you may not be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.  If we have the perspective to recognize when we’ve outgrown one desire, or that it no longer serves us, it is immensely liberating to drop it in the dust and regroup. This does’t mean we abandon goals that are difficult to accomplish, it means we stay connected to the process, and to how progress on this particular goal feels.  If accomplishing milestones brings little or no satisfaction, then re-evaluate and ask why you set this particular resolution.  Was it for you, for the voice in your head, or for someone else?  Staying tuned in to the actions we take every day, and knowing our motivations for them, is the surest way to get a self directed life. For me, this is an evolving process, like peeling back the layers of an onion (Shrek, anyone?) .

I created this table to list my personal goals – and I broke them down into manageable daily goals, note that this is a work in progress:

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I laid out goals in other areas of my life, and monkeyed with the categories I listed in the guidelines above to make sure I covered all of the important things (like Friends and Emergency Prep):

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The layout above is a great overview, but many of these individual goals can be broken down further, as I did my personal  goals, to make them more manageable.  I’ll revisit this list in the coming days and weeks, an will add more details.

Other tips for achieving your goals:

  • See them – Make them visible (print them out and place them where you can read them frequently – refrigerator door or bathroom mirrors are good spots).
  • Share them with people you trust.  They can help keep you accountable, but they can also help you troubleshoot difficulties, or clarify your thought processes if you find yourself making no progress.
  • Revisit Them –  write on your calendar (right now) times to assess and review your goals. I picked the third Sunday of the month as a good day for me to review my progress and make any course corrections.

I’ve had a great time walking you through my resolution process, and I’m excited to have such a great start on my 2016 New Year’s Resolutions. So now let me know what you think:  Do you set new year’s resolutions?  How long do they usually last?  What helps you accomplish your goals?  What do you find inspiring, and what have you abandoned as less than helpful?

I hope you found this helpful and I wish you a year of personal success and happiness!