The month of December brings with it the hustle and bustle of the holidays. In addition, the new year is right around the corner. Most of us will set our resolutions for 2017, which probably include losing the weight we gained during the holiday festivities! If the new year is the only time we set goals, however, we are really missing out on a lot of our potential in life.
Goal-setting is something we should be doing on a yearly, monthly, and even daily basis. Why set goals? So we can accomplish them of course! I believe the simplest advice is the best so I’m going to repeat something you have heard many times before: you have to write down your goals. We have too many thoughts flooding our minds on a continual basis in order to make sense of everything. Only when you write down your goals on paper or a screen will they become clear. We tend to do this with our daily and weekly “to do” lists, but we can also do it with our larger life goals.
Think about setting aside some time, even if it is only half an hour, for yourself. Turn your phone off, get away from people, television, and other distractions. Think about and write down what you really want to accomplish over a long period of time – a year, five years, or maybe during your lifetime. Thirty minutes may not be enough time, but it will give you a start – and you can revisit this exercise as often as you like. Indeed, it may never be finished. What you will hopefully start to see is that your “big picture” goals really start to become clear. Once they do, then your next step is going to have to be setting aside some periodic time to work on these goals. After all, if they are your big goals in life, don’t they deserve your attention?
You may be thinking you don’t have enough time for exercises like this. It is easy to skip working on your own goals when you are busy working on everyone else’s agendas (your boss’s, your co-workers’, your family’s). Think of it like this, however: working on yourself and becoming the best person you can possibly be should be your number one priority. It benefits you and everyone around you. So, during this busy holiday season, try not to neglect your own personal goal-setting.
If this is too much for you to tackle right now, then just start small. Think about one small thing you could do tomorrow to improve yourself. One tiny thing. Something that is not too difficult. Then aim for a similarly small improvement the next day. Before you know it, these little tiny improvements will really add up. Maybe you will say “I’m going to exercise a little more – just one minute more – tomorrow than I did today.” Easy to accomplish? Definitely. Then repeat. By the end of a month, you will have added 30 minutes to your workout without any huge straining effort. You can do this with any other self-improvement you want to make as well, such as service and kindness to others. Several books have been written on this concept. If you are interested in reading more, check out Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect and Tom Connellan’s The 1% Solution for Work and Life.
Regardless of the size of our goals, we must exercise the power of persistence if we want to accomplish anything. Persistence is not giving up at the first signs of defeat. Those who have accomplished great things have accomplished them through persistence. They simply would not take “no” for an answer. Have you ever worked at a problem and been unable to solve it for the first seven, eight, or fifty times? You kept at it, however, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Then, lo and behold, there was a successful attempt. You stuck with it until you got it. That is proof positive in the power of persistence. The problem is, we don’t stick with most things. We give up too early. Why do we do that? Is it because the goal was not important? Is it because of the fear of failure? Is it because of the fear of success? Regardless of the reason, it is clear that if we truly want something and we persistently go after it, we will obtain it.
Finally, for some more helpful advice on goal-setting, check out this short video discussing the “80/20 Rule for Goal Setting.”