- Examine 2011
What did you achieve in 2011? What did you plan to achieve but didn’t? What got in the way? Take time to do some honest reflection, but don’t beat yourself up. Instead, start thinking about how you want 2012 to be different, including any behaviours you want to change.
- Set SMART Objectives
SMART stands for Specific Measurable Attractive Realistic Timeframe. Be specific about what you want to achieve. Make sure it’s measurable so you know when you’ve achieved it and notice the important milestones along the way. Make sure it’s attractive to you. Be realistic about what you can achieve — but that doesn’t mean you can’t think big. And set a timeframe to achieve it by.
- List the Benefits
What are the benefits of you achieving your goal? How will you feel, look or what will you have? If your goal is going to the gym regularly, will you have more energy, feel more confident, enjoy the changes in body and have a sense of accomplishment/. Create as long a list as you can. These are your positive motivators.
- What’s at risk if you don’t succeed?
It doesn’t feel good to fail and can have negative effects on us emotionally, mentally and physically. Create a list of everything you want to avoid that could happen if you don’t succeed at your goal. Using the gym example, you may want to avoid poor health, not fitting into those new clothes, or having to tolerate procrastination. These are your negative motivators.
- Indentify Three Obstacles to Success
Every goal has potential obstacles, from self-limiting believes and procrastination to budget and external forces. A well-planned objective means that you have to consider what might get in the way and most importantly how you might sabotage your own success. If you’re honest about the year just gone, you might already know what your worst enemy might be.
- Identify Two Solutions
Every obstacle has at least two solutions if you’re willing to see them. If you’re a procrastinator, you need to develop new habits, get someone else to keep you accountable, and break the goal down into smaller easier-to-achieve parts. Brainstorming solutions with someone else is always a good step, especially if you’re too attached to the obstacle itself to see it differently.
- Create a Motivation Strategy
Some people like affirmations, others prefer images of success or focusing on how you physically feel when you’ve achieved something. Whatever strategy works for you, build it into your plan. Some strategies could include putting up photos of what success looks like to you, or you could speak your affirmations to yourself everyday in the mirror. With affirmations, speak in the first person, positive and present tense and, most importantly, speak them out aloud.
- Develop an Action Plan
If you don’t take your first steps with 24 hours of setting your goal, you’ve just cut your changes of success in half. Do something now — anything — just get started! Perhaps start by breaking down the goal into smaller, more manageable tasks and set deadlines for completing each of the steps. Keep the task list somewhere you’ll see it every day, like on the fridge, and track your progress. If you forget about the list, chances are you’ll forget to do anything.
- Plan Your Celebration
How will you celebrate achieving goal? This is the most forgotten step in the process and without it, it’s very difficult to push yourself toward the next goal. If your objecting is a really big one, be sure to celebrate the milestones along the way. Treat yourself to something you really want (like new clothes to match your new body), or just something you enjoy but don’t do regularly — like take a bubble bath.
- Don’t Do It Alone
Ask a friend for help or consider hiring a coach to support you along the way. Whoever it is, their role is not as cheerleader but as someone to hold you accountable to your actions — or inactions. When you do achieve your goal, be sure to celebrate with the people who helped you.
Modified from a list found in DNA Magazine’s January 2005 edition.