New Year, New Goals

I’ve written about resolutions before. I don’t like calling them resolutions. Nobody keeps those. Few people are able to last far enough into a new year to say they kept those pesky New Year’s resolutions. We get all excited at the ball drop or drink too much and have high expectations for what we think we can accomplish. And then we go back to work.

Reality sets in. It’s cold, rainy or snowy, or you get sick right after the holidays. You have to deal with taking down all the decorations on top of it all. You may be worried about paying for Christmas if you maxed out your charge cards. Your stress is climbing if you keep thinking about it. Those resolutions are getting pushed further and further out of your mind.

Stop. Just stop stressing yourself over it. Resolutions are fine but not realistic. We should all have goals. And not just at the beginning of the year but throughout the year. Realistic goals that don’t cause our blood pressure to rise unless it’s with excitement. There are some ways to keep your goals attainable.

Make them something you can achieve so you don’t feel like you’re never going to get there. If buying a Bugatti is 3 years worth of your salary, doing it this year is probably not going to happen. Get real. But if you do need a new car, plan for something that you can afford and will be able to work into your budget this year. Then you can save for the Bugatti later.

More achievability: say you want to save money for a vacation. If this is something you usually struggle with then you need to take an honest look at where your money goes. Buying high priced coffee on the way to work every day? Take-out more days than you cook? More drinking nights out with the buddies than hanging out watching a game on the couch? There are always places you can find where you can cut back on spending. Take a close look at where you money goes. Write down everything you spend and do for a month then go back and look at it. You may be surprised at where the money is. Then you can decide what to start cutting out so you can start planning that sweet little beach trip.

Another trick to keeping goals is to have accountability. Have a partner. Someone who can help you stay on track. If you’re trying to lose weight, have someone to work out with. If you live with someone who can help you, plan meals together and shop together if you can. Cook together and when you sit down to eat, turn off the phones and the TV and talk to each other. A big part of accountability is keeping communication open. If you talk to people about what you’re doing and they talk to you, you’re a lot more likely to keep it up.

Also consider time frames. Is the goal something that needs to be done within a certain amount of time? Are you trying to lose 20 pounds before a reunion or a wedding or some other event? Are you trying to get the garage cleaned out before movers show up to take everything to a new house in a month? Even short term goals should still be planned. Use a calendar or planner and keep it where you can access it quickly and daily to track your progress. Make notes on where you are and what your next steps are. That leads me to my next point…

Write down your goals. Let me say it again. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS! Make a big board with pictures and encouragement. Put twinkle lights around it. Put it where you will see it Every Day! You need the reminders that you have something to work toward. Keep telling yourself that you want this, and that you can make it happen. Make small versions of your sign and put it in several locations: your car, the bathroom, on the fridge, at your desk at work. Put them anywhere you need the reminder of what you are working toward.

Goals are good. We all need them. Professionally, personally, spiritually. Whether it is to learn a new hobby, a skill, trying new recipes, to read more books, or to write more books. We should all have something we want to do. Being stagnant is for ponds. Be a flowing river, ever changing, ever growing.

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Is it December Already?

November was National Novel Writing Month. I was helping my local writing group go crazy trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For each person. How crazy is that? Pretty normal for us writer types, actually. 

But that means today is December 1st. Time to deck the halls if you haven’t already begun to decorate for Yule or Christmas or whatever you call it. I like to call it Yule but I’m old school like that. You know, before Coke cornered the market with the jolly old dude in the red suit. But let’s not get off track waxing poetic about commercialism. 

The year is almost over. Are you ready for making resolutions to pretend to keep? Or do you prefer to call them goals? How do you plan on keeping them in the coming year? Now would be a good time to start thinking about what you would like to work on and how to implement those changes. Think of them as goals instead of resolutions. Goals are something you can work toward, with progress points along the way, giving yourself high fives and encouragement as you go.

Set a plan. Make it happen. You got this.