Happy 2017! As with the beginning of every new year I’ve been thinking about my goals. On New Year’s Day I sat down with paper and pen and outlined the things I’d like to accomplish in 2017. Along with fitness and creative writing goals, one of my goals this year is to get back to blogging regularly.
Goal setting can be tricky, and I have some personal Do’s and Don’t’s that help narrow my focus. These simple guidelines help me decide the goodness of a goal, or see if the goal needs tweaking.
Do get creative with your goals. Goals don’t have to be boring. In fact, working on goals can be both practical and fun! Instead of saying, “I want to work out more,” try something more specific, more practical: “Strength Training – I want to be strong enough to squat over a public toilet seat without ever touching it.” (Ladies, you’ve seen those toilets. You know why you need this.)
Do plan your goals with a calendar. I’m a big fan of paper planners. In years past I’ve kept my entire schedule in the same planner. This year I’m trying something new. I’m using one monthly/weekly planner as a project planning tool where I can scribble and highlight and erase while keeping my personal calendar (meetings, doctor’s appointments, etc.) in an electronic format. Whether paper or electronic calendars work better for you, a calendar is helpful in visualizing how your plan will play out.
Don’t try and solve world peace. What I mean by that is don’t try and solve every foreseeable problem all at once. I do this a lot. As soon as I identify a goal I see problems that might pop up and schedule conflicts that could interfere. Sometimes these problems are intimidating and make me want to quit before I start. I do my best to work around these up front, but I have come to recognize that there will always be hiccups and setbacks along the way. I just make a start, begin with what I can do and go from there.
Do figure out a daily/weekly schedule for your goals. This ties in to using a calendar. Be reasonable here. Only you know what will and won’t work for you. For instance, I have fitness goals, and I make time for them every day, but I don’t have time to go to a gym. It just doesn’t work with my schedule. So I work out at home. There is always a workaround if the goal is a high enough priority.
That being said, Don’t overschedule. Plan on taking mental health time. You might be very excited to start working on a goal in January, but if you don’t plan on taking breaks, you’ll be burnt out by February and wondering what happened to all your New Year’s fervor. Know that sometimes you just need a break without other obligations. Work those breaks into your plan. Remember: slow progress is still progress.
Don’t feel obligated to stick with the first iteration of your goals. I tend to set my goals pretty high. Sometimes too high. I know I can make myself do just about anything for the short term, but then I get burnt out and the goal goes to the wayside. The trick to goal setting is making your schedule sustainable. My first round of goal making is never quite right. Need a litmus test for measuring the goodness of a goal? Look at your calendar. If you feel stressed out, then the goal or the goal schedule needs work. If you feel excited to begin, then you probably got it right.
Setting goals can be a challenge. What works for someone else might not work for you and that’s okay. Set goals you care about. Otherwise, what’s the point? And if you make a start only to find the goal doesn’t fit, change it and keep going. Changing a goal to fit your life isn’t quitting. It’s learning.
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