January is the time of year when we like to make goals for the year ahead. And February is the month when many goals are abandoned, as we realise that we’re either further away from them, or have gone off them altogether. Whether it’s losing weight or world peace, here are some tips about how to make your goals happen.
- Choose your goals wisely. What excites you? What moves you forward? Does the goal fit with your wider situation – your identity, finances, lifestyle, partner, family, friends? If your goal is going to prevent you from meeting friends for six months, can you live with that, or will you quickly lapse?
- Give yourself a clear and positive goal. Most of us know the acronym of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound). When it comes to setting our own goals, many of us forget this, so our goals remain as fuzzy nice-to-haves. Take “losing weight” as a goal. How much weight? By when? And rather than losing 2 stone, wouldn’t it be better to work towards a positive target? What’s your goal weight? Or, is your goal being fitter, leaner, or having a healthier lifestyle (and remember to keep it SMART).
- Engage support from (positive) others. Introverts may tend to hit friends and family with a fully thought out goal and plan, then are surprised when those people push back if it affects them. The earlier you involve others in formulating your plans the better. And, if you talk it through with more positive people, not only will you get help in thinking through the plan and making it achievable, but it’s more likely that you’ll get support with your efforts.
- If your goal is about change, have maintenance as part of of it. Many people lose weight, only to gain it again because their goal was to lose weight, rather than having an on-going goal to remain fit, or eat well. Losing weight is about changing behaviour. To maintain our new behaviour, we need to have a plan about how to reinforce it long-term. Whether your goal is about quitting smoking, not chewing your nails, or listening to your team members better, include reinforcement as part of the plan.
- Make your first step a planning session. A plan is the difference between a dream and an (achievable) goal. Goals are impossibly hard to start unless they’re broken down into steps. Imagine your goal as a project. What are the various parts of it?What’s the sequence of events and how long will each step take, realistically? This enables you to work back from your overall deadline and create a plan. Next, diarise it, so you have a reminder of what you need to do when.
- Review your plan. Are you on-track? If not, what actions do you need to get back on track. If life has got in the way, it may be better to push back your deadline rather than beat yourself up or giving up altogether.
Colin Jones-Evans is an executive and performance coach with Two Rivers Coaching. For more information go to www.tworiverscoaching.co.uk