With the arrival of the new year comes the prerequisite list of changes we all want to make. Some people want to lose weight while others want to start a new job or learn a new hobby. It feels like every year we all have the same resolutions or goals and after a month or so, those goals become a memory like the previous year. I’m guilty of this too. Every year I want to stop procrastinating. Of course I usually start sometime around late March or early April. Achieving your goals doesn’t happen overnight and if you don’t properly plan you’re basically setting yourself up for failure.
Writing it all down
What are goals if you don’t write them down? I like to write my goals down in a blank journal my wife gave me a few years back. Writing them down helps me remember and keep track of them. If you’re more of a digital person, writing them in Google Docs or Evernote is always an option. You can also create vision boards or Pinterest. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it.
Step by Step
Sure writing down your goals is great, but how are you going to go about achieving your goals? Goals without actions are just dreams. I will write out my goals and then I write out an action plan. An example would be if you wanted more traffic to your blog. What are some steps you would take? You would list them out in the order in which you would take them. And now you have an action plan. Is it fool proof? Absolutely not, but you have a starting point on which you can build on.
Failure is Part of the Process
No one likes to fail at anything, but very rarely do we hit homeruns with our goals at the first try. Failure is part of the process. Failure sounds bad, but it’s actually good. Failure shows you the ways which aren’t working and gives you the opportunity to correct them. Don’t get down if your stumble, embrace the failure as a teaching tool. Growing up we were taught that failure was bad and we should be ashamed of failure, but there is nothing to be ashamed of. Failing means you’re trying, but you haven’t found what works yet. Most people don’t even get that far.
Set Realistic Goals
Sometimes we set goals for ourselves that we cannot achieve. It’s human nature to fantasize about all the great things we want for ourselves. Most of us have at one point or another have thought about winning the lottery. Should your goal be to win the lottery, absolutely not. It’s not realistic. I won’t say it’s impossible but you don’t have a realistic chance of winning. Don’t say you’re going to lose 30 pounds this year knowing that you have no motivation to get off the couch or give up junk food. It sounds good, but if you know you’re not going to give an honest effort at trying then there is no point in having that as a goal. I remember when I started my photography business and I had these goals of making all this money off of weddings and portraits even though I never booked a client before. Disappointing to say the least, but each year I have increased my goals from the previous years. I knew I wasn’t going to make $450k one year in photography so I had to dial it down a bit. OK, more than a bit, but to a realistic number that was more reasonable. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop reaching for the stars, it just means I have to reach for the closer stars first before I try to reach the higher stars.
Don’t Give Up
I know it is easier to give up when things get rough than it is to keep going when all seems hopeless. Just quit and try again next year and hope everything works out then. I’ve done that before and I felt guilty. Like I lied to myself that I was really going to make an effort and just stop because it was easier than to keep going. Often when achieving our goals we fail to recognize how far we’ve truly gone because we’re focused on the goal and not the progress we’ve made. Every step taken is one more than if we never started in the first place.
Embrace the Journey
The journey to achieving your goals is going to teach you a lot about yourself. It’s going to challenge and test you. Mark down your progress and look how far you’ve come. Give yourself a weekly or monthly check-in on your progress. If achieving your goals was easy we wouldn’t need the journey to discover things about us. We would all be over achievers. I look forward to the journey. Sure it’s long and arduous, but nothing worth it in life is easy. Sure you will have ups and downs along the way, but in the words of Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.” And that saying is true. Things look the darkest and bleakest right before we overcome then. Until we reached the top and the light breaks through revealing all our hard work was for naught.
Achieving your goals shouldn’t be just a New Year’s tradition. To be a better version of ourselves we have to continue to push ourselves. Achieve a goal and set another one higher. Once you achieve your goal, revel in the sense of accomplishment that accompanies it. And if you didn’t reach your goal, retool your process or the goal itself. The only time you can fail in achieving your goals is if you never try from the start.