If the statistics are correct, by now you’ve already fallen off the wagon when it comes to your goals. Trust me, you’re not alone. Every year, more than 90% of people give up on their goals and New Year’s resolutions by February. But if you’re reading this, that doesn’t have to be you.
Even if you’ve gotten discouraged, distracted or demotivated, today we’re picking up those goals, dusting them off and setting our eyes on the finish line. Here are 12 tips to help you stick with, and ultimately, achieve your goals this year.
This might sound counterintuitive, but I promise you it isn’t. One of the biggest reasons we give up on our goals is because we get discouraged when things don’t go as planned. We believe that “life” somehow got in the way and threw us off track, but the Bible reminds us that God is in control.
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
While we might have a good idea of what we want to accomplish this year, God’s plans are always best. Be willing to accept (even embrace) the detours that come and see them as God’s way of training and grooming you for bigger and better things. If your goal is worth having, it’s also worth pursuing, so don’t give up too quickly. Pray through any ‘distractions’ that come up and keep moving forward unless God says otherwise.
In addition to goals, I also choose a word for the year. This one word becomes my theme for the year and gives me a framework on which to hang my goals. For example, if my word for the year is “seek,” I think of how that word “seek” can influence the various areas of my life. In what ways do I want to “seek” in my marriage, career, social life and so on? My word for the year helps me focus on not just things I want to do, but more on the person I want to become and that’s a great way to focus on lasting change.
As I alluded to in the previous point, my goals are not limited to one area of my life. You are more than just your job. You are more than a mom. You are more than a number on the scale. Your goals should reflect the complete person you are, so seek to balance your goals rather than focusing on just one area of your life. If you pour all your time and enjoyment into just one or two areas, you’ll find that other areas start to suffer. As a starting point, consider these seven (7) areas for setting your goals:
Once you have an idea of what you want your goals to be, it’s time to get those goals out of your head because written goals are more likely to be accomplished. When we write our goals, we start to commit to them and increase the chances of achieving them. You can type your goals but handwritten goals are even better as our brains start to connect with our head and hands, making the connection even stronger. Guess what I’ll be doing? Writing my goals down!
In addition to writing down your goals, another great way to stick with them is to tell someone else. Whether it’s because we want to keep our word, or would rather avoid the embarrassment of failure, sharing our goals with someone else is a great motivator. Of course, you’ll want to share your goals with someone you trust, someone I call a dream defender who will encourage you along the way – which brings me to the next point.
Another big reason why goals fall apart is due to the lack of accountability. Now, when I use the word accountability, I’m not talking about having someone holding a big stick ready to beat you up if you fall. Accountability is more like having a cheerleader – someone who will cheer you on and encourage you on your journey, especially when you’re losing steam. Give some careful thought as to who can fill that role and ask if they’re willing to help you stick with your goals. It may also mean that you have multiple persons holding you accountable based on the various goals you have. The person keeping you on track with your health goals might be different from your accountability partner for your career, and so on.
Having a coach is a fantastic way to get clear on your goals and stick with the things you said you will do. A coach will help you identify where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and overcome the roadblocks along the way. Coaching could be one-to-one (just you and the coach) or in a group setting where you benefit from your own transformation as well as that of others. (For more about coaching visit: marvasmith.com/coaching/) And like accountability partners, you can find a coach to help you with different areas of your life, depending on your specific goals.
Think of a vision board as a visual road map of where you want to be. It’s often a collage of words, images, or a combination of the two, that is used as a visualization tool to help you achieve your goals. Vision boards can be created for your overall life goals or just one area of your life. This is a powerful motivator as it gives you a mental image of your desired life and inspires you to keep moving forward to achieve it.
The saying out of sight out of mind is true, even when it comes to goals. Whether it’s your vision board or a typed or handwritten list of your goals, keeping your goals literally in front of you is one more way to improve your chances of achieving them. Imagine the simplicity of a typed list of your goals framed and sitting on your desk. Or your vision board displayed on your bedroom wall. Having your goals prominently displayed where you can see them regularly makes it pretty hard to forget about them.
Goals are not a ‘set it and forget it’ type of thing, so waiting until the end of the year to review them isn’t the best idea. Instead, plan for monthly or quarterly reviews. These are times when you will check-in and see how you’re doing with your goals. I encourage you to pull out your calendar or your calendar app right now and make an appointment with yourself. All the better if you can make it a fun time that you look forward to every month, maybe over a nice latte or glass of wine – whichever one you prefer. Just make it a date with yourself that you won’t break, because after all, your goals and dreams are worth it.
As you review your goals, you may find that some of them may or may not be relevant or doable. Maybe the time isn’t right. Whatever the reason might be, you might find it necessary to make adjustments along the way. Before packing it in altogether, find ways to pivot instead. Perhaps now is not the time to pay down your debt if a medical emergency has come up, but I’ll bet it’s still a goal worth pursuing. You can choose to make changes such as adjusting the timeline for your goal (does it need to move to next year?) or adjusting your expectations, but also be wise. Saying goodbye to a goal isn’t always such a bad idea. If you’re not sure what to do, pray about it and seek advice from your coach or accountability partner before making any snap decisions. Don’t allow yourself to stay stuck for too long. And once you’ve decided, choose to be at peace with it so you can move forward without guilt or regret.
For the final tip, I encourage you to celebrate your wins, big and small. Don’t wait until you’ve lost all 50 pounds. Celebrate every five. You might not have passed the exam yet, but the fact that you took the step to pay the registration fee is a big commitment worth celebrating. Celebrating your wins could be as simple as sharing the good news with a friend or as big as going on a much-needed vacation after a big project. The key is to recognize your efforts and allow the little and big wins to inspire you.
Now that you have all the tips, which one will you choose to make this your winning year? Start with one tip and go from there. Then another and another. And before you know it, those little wins will snowball, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals. Go ahead and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how it goes so that I can celebrate with you. Let’s beat the odds and crush our 2020 goals together!
Marva Titley-Smith, Strategic Planner & Certified Life Coach
Marva is a work and life strategist with a passion for helping women thrive in all areas of life. She’s the BVI’s first local female architect and former Chief Planner. In 2012, after 26 years in the Public Service, she successfully transitioned careers and founded the management consultancy firm MatrixSpark specializing in strategic management, training and coaching. Seven years later she became certified as a life breakthrough coach to address the growing work-life balance struggles facing women. She continues to welcome reinvention and is always on the lookout for what God is doing next.
You can find her writing about work-life balance and intentional living on her website www.MarvaSmith.com.