As the New Year approaches, it is a common act to make an inexhaustible list of “new year resolutions”. We start these off with soaring expectations and indeed genuine intentions to see them through the year but soon enough, we find that our expectations are cut off prematurely, leaving us with feelings of disappointment, unrealized hopes and even denial of the real situation.
“What happened?” we may wonder; how can one be so strong-willed with their goals yet fall short in achieving them? The reality of New Year resolutions is that we set them without careful evaluation and also we fail to assess how to realize them. For several years, I have deviated from calling my goals, New Year resolutions but rather my expectations and they have been largely accomplished.
Steps to setting any goals or resolutions:
- Assess your inner need: Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and see done in the New Year. Don’t just copy what every other person or your friends are thinking or doing. The question is: “What is that need that I would like to meet or what are those goals that I have postponed for a while? “ By self evaluating your thoughts, you begin to find out the differences in your desires and then you begin to know their scale of importance to you. I normally have a list of things that I wish to accomplish and I write them down in my journal or computer and save them. Also, once you have found out what your deep goals truly are, be careful not to mix them up with the final achievement; make your goals to be more than simply a dream.
- Meditate: Spend time alone to fully understand and prioritize the numerous needs that you may have. Solo meditation gives clarity and removes confusion or distraction. It enables one to totally concentrate thoughts on the goal at hand, think them through carefully and evaluate the big picture.
- Write them down in a journal or on the computer: The whole idea here is for references and to stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. If one is making notes on a loose piece of paper, it could get lost causing the person to start a new list. It is possible that the new note will be different from the first list as some items may not be acknowledged or new items added. There will be no consistency and proper thought will not have been given into the new additions on the list. Change is good but excessively frequent change of thoughts will lead to lack of focus and non-accomplishment of goals. I personally keep a journal for all my expectations and have kept the same journal for three years. Also, I create folders on my computer and use relevant programs specifically for this.
- Make realistic expectations: It is good to set high goals but it is wasteful to lose sight of reality. Challenge is good so long as it is done methodically. This means that you set priorities taking into consideration your personality and your environment. If you set your goals too high, discouragement sets in and then the first thing you do will be to quit. Also, do not set them too low or they will be ineffective with a minute impact on your life. For example, I was trying to lose thirty pounds a year or three pounds a month. I was completely inactive and not exercising and so I took recognition of my fitness situation and I set a realistic goal. For someone that was actively exercising, that probably would have been too low a target.
- Evaluate your goals or targets constantly: Change is a constant in life and keeps evolving. In January, we may have high expectations but by March, we may be discouraged and distracted with other demands. Also, our focus may have drifted. Set a goal and constantly assess how the goal set in January has measured up with your expectation in March or June. I personally evaluate my expectations monthly by going back on the list and seeing which ones have been met or which have been adapted or still in progress.
- Make note of your progress: This follows closely with evaluation of your goals. After assessing what you have achieved, it is important to note the overall performance. I would start every month in my journal or computer and make short notes such as: “completed but…”, “Work In progress”, “not started because…” or “completed and closed.”
- Be focused: It is very easy to get distracted; every small step to distraction eventually adds up to a bigger step. Regardless of the limitations or friends or family, choose to stay focused even when you do not have a reason to do so. I made a goal to save for a project and that meant changing my lifestyle significantly and it was very challenging. There were so many times, that I wanted to just quit; I even convinced myself that the extensive effort I was putting in was not worth it. But as I did my monthly evaluations and thought seriously about the need, I resolved to focus on it and get it completed so that I could have my life back. If a need is not dealt with as it should, it will eventually come back to bother us, so the best attitude is to completely satisfy that need.
- Be positive: Believing in oneself leads to self confidence. We know ourselves more than any other person does and we have control over our thoughts. Choose to think positively and look forward to the end result. By thinking positively and hoping for the best, you will begin to believe that you will succeed and also will have a reason to keep trying. Another important aspect is surrounding ourselves with positive people not dream-killers or people that will de-motivate you. People may have genuinely made an attempt yet not succeeded in a project but do not forget that every person is different and talents differ. I have received a number of comments like, “you do not know what you are going into”, “learn from my experience; it will not work” and “no one has done it that way before”. My approach has been “it may not have worked for others, but it will work for me”;” my own experience will be favourable”; and “there is always a pioneer in every situation, so I will be the first to start a new thing”.
- Watch your words: We are what we say and by speaking positively, those words eventually start to happen. If you want to start a new project, we should continue with the tempo of success even when there are limitations. Do not start shouting “failure” just because of hitches but rather remind yourself that every great thing must pass the test of time. That hitch may be to make you adjust your plans or steer you to a new idea or new thought that you had neglected. Watch who you are talking to and ask yourself why you are talking to the person and what you intend to achieve. Are you looking for advice; guidance or just to make a conversation? Evaluate the advice by checking the success record of the person giving it.
- Be disciplined: Self control and discipline are related. Exercise caution and do not let yourself get away with excuses such as “it’s okay”, “it’s only a little”, “it will not hurt in the long run” or “it does not matter”. Small and minor actions may seem harmless but they add up and they eventually side track the overall objective. I tell myself that, “it matters if I eat ice cream versus drink green tea”;” It is not okay not to lose three pounds a week”; “a little dip into my savings will eventually create a big hole”, so it matters. Learn to say no, even to yourself.
- Reward yourself: While evaluating yourself and you find that you have over-exceeded your expectation by say thirty percent, then that must have been the result of real hard work. Depending on your personality, please relax and take some pressure off by finding some self compensation. I am not suggesting going and scooping that nice and calorie-filled ice cream that will set you back below where you were but do something positive to treat yourself. I was exercising for five days and I lost eight pounds a month rather than three (3) pounds, so I took one day off to relax and watch a favourite show.
- Don’t quit: Always be a winner and refuse to give up. The numbers may be against you, the scale may be working to your disadvantage, or the clock may be ticking faster than your pace. Despite the odds, reject relinquishment! Stay focused, be determined and wait till the end.
- Imagine the rewards: Think back to why the goals have been set and how you can benefit greatly. I have benefited greatly from these steps and the results have been admirably. A few of my results have included dropping fifty pounds rather than thirty pounds within one year, my debt being paid up in six months versus one year and my new project completed successfully as planned.
It has been proven that if we pursue a positive goal with determination that eventually, it will become a reality. So start today and turn your expectations into reality.
As you take on the challenges and reap the benefits of 2012, set your aspirations high (but not too high) and be determined to succeed against the odds and watch your life turn around.
I would like to hear from you,
Mom four kids