Finally, a new year, or more importantly, the end of 2009.
It has truly been one of the most challenging of my already challenge-filled life. For someone who likes to think of herself as optimistic (a high i-S for DiSC speakers) it has taken every ounce of positivity to keep looking forward.
At last I have a visual reference to help. There is something hopeful about taking down the old calendar and putting up a fresh new one. Sure, this is just a mental trick but for those of us who are visual thinkers, these symbolic gestures make a difference. Out with the old – in with the new; clear the slate; get a fresh start; whatever the expression – it works for me.
The key is to get past the gestures and expressions and do the hard work: take action; not just action for the sake of action (an easy trap for me) but meaningful, purposeful action.
We have these symbolic starts to help motivate us to do the things we should be doing all along: plan, implement, and evaluate to move forward toward our goals. The challenges of this past year have put a new importance on the evaluation step.
Many of us may automatically put together lists of goals. It is traditional this time of year. Some of us even set actions in motion to achieve those goals with the hope to place nice tidy checkmarks on our list as we start making progress. Do you ever notice those items seem to be the easier things to accomplish? The problem comes with the more difficult items…those things we hope to do that take more planning and thought or may need to be reconsidered and broken down into smaller more achievable goals. It’s easy to give up on the “leftovers” on our list.
This past year has provided several hard-earned lessons.
- Make a list. Set realistic and not-so-realistic goals. Build in some fun with reality checks. Make sure you cover your whole person: work, family, personal and fun stuff.
- Make the list actionable. General goals are difficult to measure and achieve. Be specific. This helps to come up with the actions you need to take to reach your goal.
- Keep it visible. What gets seen gets attention.
- Give yourself permission to revisit and rewrite goals if life gets in the way. They are not etched in stone. It’s okay to honestly re-evaluate goals if life gets in the way or requires a change in direction. The list helps to stay focused and remind us of our original intent.
- Use your network. Share goals with others and allow others to help. Reciprocate and see how you can help others with their goals and list. Do you have a supporting network? We get so caught up in the idea of networking for business, but we need our personal network to help share the process. This has been one of my biggest lessons learned.
- Visit your list often. Okay, this is part of the other but needs to be emphasized. Have you ever made a list of goals and put it aside? Then weeks, months, years later you find it? It can be quite enlightening. I used to put my list in my DayTimer, in one of those plastic sheet covers that you could buy to fit in the binder. Now I set it up in my Outlook so it nags at me electronically.
- Reward yourself for your successes. Sometimes it’s just the joy of checking something off. Sometimes it is a new pair of great shoes. Think about what will make you feel accomplished and build your rewards into your planning stage. Then take action and enjoy your success!
So what am I missing? What do you do to get past the new year’s resolution trap and keep your goals alive throughout the year?