June marks the half-way point of the year and by now many have long forgotten the goals they set for the New Year. So this is a great time to review strategies that will help us work towards new goals.
This photo is of my best friend, Kimberly. Eight years ago she went back to school while working full time. During this time frame she got the last of her four children out the door, saw three of her children get married, became a grandma three times and went through a move. Considering that any of these could have been an excuse to give up, is an understatement. But through it all, she persevered, resulting in finishing her Bachelors, as well as earning a Masters of Professional Counseling. This photo was taken a few weeks ago, following her hooding ceremony.
Goals. They can be big, small, immediate, or long-term. They fall under categories such as physical, mental, spiritual, career, financial, or relationships. The benefits of setting a goal include focus and direction in spending valuable resources such as our time, money and energy.
Setting a goal is one thing. But knowing how you’re going to achieve it is what will keep you moving forward in reaching it. Here are six strategies when setting and working towards a goal.
1. Keep it simple and realistic. Your goals need to reflect your current skill level as well as time and resources. It’s doubtful you’ll be fluent in Spanish if your trip to Mexico is in a month. You, could, however, learn 5-8 key phrases before you leave.
2. Be specific. Instead of a general statement of wanting to get more fit, have a goal that can be measured, such as “I want to eat four servings of fruits and vegetables each day” or “I want to walk at least 8,000 steps/ day.”
3. Write it down. Once you know what it is you want to accomplish and why you’re doing it, write it down. Record it on your calendar, in a journal, in the margin of a book that may have been the inspiration for the goal. Writing down your goals makes them harder to ignore and adds in some accountability, even if it’s just between you and a piece of paper.
4. Assign a completion date. Once you’ve written your goal down, jot a due date next to it. It’s also important to keep in mind length of time required to reach your goal. Is your goal something that can be accomplished in just a few days such as paint the living room or does it represent something that could possibly take years such as earning a degree or certification? Regardless, all goals need a timeline; without one, it will be too easy to give up and forgo your original plans.
5. Partner up. Whether it’s a family member, co-worker or mentor, having someone to share your journey with will be encouraging as well as offer a layer of accountability. Choose someone who is non-judgmental and can provide positive reinforcement along the way.
6. Choose a reward and prepare to celebrate. Having something to look forward to – whether big or small – is not only fun but often serves as the motivator to keep going. If you’re working towards something big over many months or even years, make sure you celebrate your successes along the way.