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Goals: How to Set and Keep Them

In just a few days, we begin 2016. Is it just me, or do the years seem to be going by faster and faster?! I feel like I just got over mourning the end of Christmas season and here we are again! I have to admit, while I am not a fan of January as a general rule (cold, no big events to look forward to, no more excuses to eat cookies), I love the renewal that comes each new year. I love to look back and plan ahead. And as is a common tradition, I love to make goals.

To me, goal setting is like motherhood. As soon as I find out I’m pregnant, I vow to be the perfect mother. My child will only eat healthy, organic food; watch 10 minutes of educational TV a day; listen to classical music; and of course, they will never disobey due to my superb parenting. Shortly, the mac n’ cheese comes out, they are watching a movie at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and we are arguing over why there is a picture of a dinosaur in permanent marker on the wall .

Just like trying to be a good mother, goals need to constantly be set and reset. After doing a bit of research and looking at my own trends when setting goals, here are some steps to help you set and achieve goals.

goals

  1. Set realistic goals – Being a 5’3″, married, mother of two, and over 30 pretty much nixes my chances of ever being Miss America. That is an example of an unrealistic goal. But I can make specific goals to have a healthier, more succesful lifestyle. Don’t sell yourself short, but be realistic in setting goals that fit into your life.
  2. Set specific goals – Setting a goal to “get healthy” is to ambiguous. Make goals more specific. For example: “I will exercise five times a week,” or “I will only eat sugar on Saturdays.” Make sure your goals have specific, measurable marks.
  3. Set goals for different areas of your life – Have goals to meet your physical, spiritual, emotional and mental needs.
  4. Publicly declare your goals – If you announce a goal to a group or have one individual to hold you accountable, you’re much more likely to meet your goals. Failing in front of others is more painful that failing in private. I’m not sure why this is? I’m sure a psychologist would have a heyday with that one, but it’s human nature. When you’ve accomplished parts of your goal, report to these people as well. And sadly, if you trip up on a goal, report that as well. Make sure you pick people who will support you and want you to succeed.
  5. Have an action plan to meet your goals – If you plan to eat healthier, plan weekly meals that fit into your plan. If you plan to read two books each month, have a specific reading time set aside every day. Whatever your goal may be, schedule time and make a plan to meet that goal.
  6. Continuously reset your goals – Just like being the perfect mother, we often slip up in achieving our goals. This doesn’t mean we should give up. No matter how many mistakes I make, I will always strive to be the best mom I can be. If you miss a day working on your goal, pick up where you left off the next day.
  7. Keep a record of your goals – Keep a written (or typed) record to show your progress on your goals. This can be a spreadsheet, list or journal. Just be sure to have a visual measurement of your goals if possible.
  8. Celebrate achievements – Celebrate either with rewards, activities or some kind of mention of your achievements. It’s important to look back on how far you’ve come when you achieve a goal.
  9. Believe in yourself – I know that sounds like a cat poster (Thank you Lego Movie!) but it really does help. If we don’t believe we can achieve our goals, we can’t. Tell yourself you can do this. The more you believe you can do something, the more you’re willing to push yourself. Don’t give up before you even start.

I’d love to hear what goals you’re setting for 2016. My goal is to spend more quality time with my children. Life gets so busy with homework, piano, ballet, scouts, etc, it feels like our time together is rushed and not always fun. Per my own advice, I’m going to come up with specific activities we can do and set aside specific time for us. And since I need someone to hold me responsible, I’ll report back here sometime during the year. Good luck with your New Year’s Resolutions!

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