We’re all too familiar with the fate of New Year’s resolutions. To keep your goals from dissolving the same way, use these commitment-building tips:
1 Make them bite-size.
All progress is achieved a step at a time. Even if your ultimate aim is lofty or challenging, you’re more likely to reach it if you set a series of goals that you believe are attainable within the time range you set for them. Creating a goal that seems within reach not only gives you more confidence, but takes away the temptation to abandon your goal with the excuse that it was too hard.
2 Keep them short-range.
To maintain a motivating sense of urgency, set goals that extend out no further than 90 days. Many people find 30-day goals are ideal. Break larger goals down into short-range segments if you need to. It’s easier to identify the steps you’ll take on a weekly basis when your end point is in sight.
3 Limit the number of goals you tackle at once.
Ideally, work on only one goal at a time so you can give it your full focus and energy. Sometimes you may be able to handle two or three items at once without excessively diluting your effectiveness, but make sure the goals are in harmony with each other and know ahead of time what priority you give to each. That way, if you have to make a decision where to put your time, you’ll know which one should come first and which one you can postpone until another time if necessary.
4 Use target dates instead of deadlines.
Give yourself a little flexibility with your end-point by thinking of it as a target date instead of a deadline. You’re less likely to give up if it looks like you won’t make it quite on time. Real life does happen, after all.
5 Power them up with why’s.
You probably already know that you have to write your goal on paper. Along with it, write your “because.” Identify the benefits you’ll get from achieveing your goal. Know what it’s going to do for you, what’s in it for you, and how you’re going to feel when you have accomplished it.
6 Energize them with a daily R & R.
Each morning, repeat your goals (and the benefits for each of them)—preferably out loud, and preferably in a specific chair you think of as you goal-review chair. Every time you repeat your goals, you strengthen your commitment to them.
Before you go to sleep each night, review your progress. What can you learn from what happened relative to your goal today? What could you have done more of, or better? What did you allow to get in your way or undermine you? What did you achieve? What strengths did you exercise in regard to your goal?
7 Enlist the power of your subconscious.
Try using affirmative questions to get your subconscious working on ways to help you succeed. To create an affirmative question, turn a normal affirmation into a “Why” question that you repeat. Your subconscious won’t be able to keep itself from finding answers for you. For example, you might take the affirmation, “I am easily sticking to my diet,” and turn it into the affirmative question, “Why am I finding it so easy to stick to my diet?” Try it! It’s a powerhouse technique.
8 Celebrate your progress.
When you take the actions you laid out for yourself on a daily basis, congratulate yourself. Reinforce your choice to act by reminding yourself what an exceptional person you are and let yourself feel the satisfaction of that. Only a small percentage of the population is self-directed enough to actively work toward genuine goals. You stand above the crowd.
9 Find an accountability partner.
Especially if you’re new to goal setting, or when you are working on an especially challenging goal, enlist a trusted friend who cares about you to check on your progress on a weekly basis and not to accept feeble excuses if you slack off. Support groups and master mind groups can be helpful, too. Knowing you have to tell somebody else how well you did spurs you to stay on track.
10 Allow your success to happen.
Let go of any feelings that try to tell you that you don’t deserve to reach your goal. You deserve it just because you had the courage to set it. And if you have an off-day, accept it and pick up where you left off the next morning. Remind yourself that you can, and will, achieve whatever you decide to achieve, because it’s your life and you get to decide what experiences you’ll enjoy.
By Susan K. Minarik