I love making New Year’s resolutions. I love the fresh start that comes with each January. It’s a chance to begin again and to make new choices. Often New Year’s resolutions are lofty, ambitious goals that are also hard to sustain throughout the year. That’s why I like to pick just one goal to focus on for the whole year. Here are some tips to help you succeed in your goal making and following through in the new year:
Make specific goals. Broad goals are hard to accomplish and it might be hard to know when you have completed them. Pick one area of your life or behavior that you want to focus on. Examples could include being more patient with your children, reading more good books, eating more vegetables daily or writing one letter a week to friends who live out of state.
Plan to Win
Create a plan. Once you have decided on your goal, think about how you are going to accomplish it. Ask others if they have worked on this goal before and what worked for them. Read information and research options. Are there new habits you need to form? Are there any books you could read? What are the sacrifices you will have to make for the goal? Make sure you write down concrete steps or action items. As an example, if you decide that you want to work out three times a week, you could first pick out a gym that you like and that is in a convenient location for you or purchase work out DVDs that you think you will enjoy. Anything you can do to make it easier for you to accomplish your goal is a good idea.
Bring a Friend (Buddy)
Invite a friend to join you. Enlist accountability and have someone join in committing to a goal with you. It’s easier when someone else is also working towards that same goal. For example, if your goal is to run a half marathon, find a running buddy who will train with you and help you attain that goal. As a bonus, it’s one way to guarantee regular time with that person.
Remember Your Power Verse
Find a verse to remind you of the purpose behind your goal. Having a spiritual purpose behind your goal is another way to motivate yourself and to ground your goal in a greater purpose. If your goal is to be more thankful, memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Write the verse out and post it on your desk at work, on your fridge or on someplace where you will see it regularly.
Evaluate after 30 days. How is your goal going? What’s working for you? What are you struggling with? How can you keep this up for another month? How will you keep this up for the rest of the year? A great way to process these questions is to journal about your goals and to recognize small wins along the way. If you can notice, the small victories that will help motivate you towards your larger goal.
Find a counselor. Counseling can be a great way to get additional support and insight as you focus in on a specific part of your life. Within the first couple of sessions with a counselor, you will decide upon a goal together that will be the focus of your time. Clients come into sessions with a variety of goals such as improving their communication skills, grieving a loss in their life, or learning better coping skills.
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