I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions. They are short-lived, short-sighted, and typical. I vow to lose ten pounds, eat more vegetables, work out more. Plus, how many people do you know still talk about their resolutions come August?
This is why I took a page from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and write myself a goal list every January. I read the book during a self-help phase over twelve years ago. Frankly, it’s the only habit that stuck.
I’m a big fan of lists, so it’s not surprising that Covey’s suggestion of writing a yearly goal list attracted me. There’s a sweet feeling of success that accompanies the crossing off of an item on a checklist.
Look at me, I finished something I set my mind to do. I should give myself a symbolic pat on the back. Good job, me.
Of course, my goal lists include things like work out more, sleep more, and stuff of the sort, but it also includes goals like get my novel professionally edited, paint the exterior of my house, create a writing blog — all of which I accomplished off last year’s list. It also contains things I almost never complete, like sending Christmas cards (2016 is the year, I swear!).
I check on my list every few months, to be sure I’m on track, and I even add more to the list as the year progresses, when more seems attainable. Though I rarely take things off the lists, I may duplicate them for the next year if they don’t get finished. It’s a work in progress, a living document that not only sets my mind on the right path, but also gives me a record of endeavors for that year of life. A listed journal of sorts.
When I sit down to write my goals for the year, I think of what I did the year before, and how that may spill over into the next. What are some truly attainable goals? Saying you want to win the lottery and travel around the world may not be feasible, but saving a few thousand dollars and going skydiving may be just the right fit.
I set my goals into specific categories: my design career, my writing career, my personal/health goals, and my family/home goals. Your categories will probably be different, but try to set them so you are making goals for every aspect of your life, including your dreams.
Dreams are only dreams if you do nothing to realize them. By writing a list, you can set smaller goals for yourself that bring your dream that much closer to reality. You have a year, right? You can do SOMETHING to push yourself closer to your bucket list items, even if it’s simply to do research or go on a weekend photography trip.
Every year is a gift. Don’t let one go by without achieving something that makes your soul happy. Money and fitness are important and all, but they aren’t happiness. Do something every year, however small, that makes you feel like you have purpose on this earth.
Of course it helps to know what those dreams are, so if you don’t already, set goals on exploring things that interest you. This year, maybe you want to try snowboarding or running a 5K. You never know what you’re next obsession may be. Plus, life is about exploring. Everyone can get a job and make money. What makes you tick?
I try to keep my goals positive. Instead of limiting yourself, expand yourself. Don’t write goals for what you CAN’T DO, write goals for what you CAN DO instead. Drink more water, not drink less soda, for example. Staying positive is key, because psychologically we all want what we can’t have. Telling yourself you can’t have it a sure way to convince yourself you need it.
I’m a firm believer in positive energy, though I know how difficult it can be sometimes. I believe writing things down helps solidify them. It helps make them real, not just a pie in the sky, a distant dream, but something tangible.
Without my goal list, I seriously doubt I would have finished my novel, seven years in the making. It all seemed too unreachable, too big to achieve. I set my goal to write 1,500 words a week, which is not a lot for some, but a lot for me while I was renovating my house and working a full-time job. Maybe for you it’s only 500 words. No goal is set in stone. If you find 500 words too easy, push the goal up to 1,000.
In the end, you have no one to report to but yourself. These lists are not for everyone to view. They are personal, and should be tailored to you and your lifestyle, so you can feel like you’re accomplishing something, not so you can beat yourself up and give up.
Below are a few articles that helped guide me in writing my yearly goal list. I used to write mine down in a steno notebook. Now, I keep them in a Reminders list on my iOS, so that I can refer to them on my iPad, iPhone, or laptop. Whatever works best for you.
Some of my goals for 2016 include: finish my latest short story, write a monthly blog post, and land a literary agent. What are some things you would like to accomplish this year? What attainable goals will you be setting up for yourself? I would love to know!