It’s almost New Year’s Day, the traditional time for creating resolutions you want to achieve for the incoming year. Have you made New Year Resolutions before? Did you keep them? How long did they last? What goals did you set? If you didn’t achieve them, did you consider what happened and how you could change that?
OK Enough Questions
You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you always kept all the resolutions you made! So if there are things you want to do (goals to achieve) work you want to do, and targets you want to reach, how do you do it and still keep going, day after day, after week?
How The Sun Does It
In the northern hemisphere at December 29th, the sun has just completed the longest night of the year (and of course, the shortest day). It’s the opposite way around in the southern hemisphere. They have just had their longest day (shortest night). In the northern hemisphere, the days are now very gradually getting longer. When I say gradually, I MEAN gradually. Looking at a local table of sunrise and sunsets (ask Google), the 23rd of December had a day that was 5 seconds longer than the previous (shortest) day. Just 5 seconds. Did you notice that? Me neither. By 29th of December, the day was a whole 2 minutes and 30 seconds or so longer than the shortest day. I didn’t notice that amount of extra time either. Yet, by early February, the evenings will have lengthened by about an hour and the mornings will be lighter earlier as well. Those few seconds each day add up gradually, but inevitably, to a huge 9 hour difference in the amount of daylight EVERY day, 6 months later, by the time of the summer solstice. The actual amount of extra daylight varies by how far north or south of the equator you are, of course. But who would think that a few unnoticeable seconds every day could make such an enormous difference inside 6 months?
Tiny Steps Every Day
It takes just a tiny step every day to reach the biggest goal eventually.
Saving $600+ For Next Christmas
I read a great idea today about saving for next Christmas, that follows exactly the sun’s gradual change from winter solstice to summer. Get a jar, add a cent on 1st January. On 2nd of January, add 2 cents, on 3rd January add 3 cents. Keep adding one more cent a day, each day to your jar. By the end of 3 months, you will be adding about 90 cents a day to the jar and will already have reached $22 in savings. Once you reach 99 cents, then add a dollar a day to your jar, plus the cents. These are tiny amounts at first but they add up over the year. Even by the start of December, you will be adding only about $3.30 a day to your jar, perhaps the cost of a cup of coffee in work. But by Christmas, you will have over $600 in that jar.
What Is A Goal
A goal is something you want to achieve in the future and that you are willing to work towards getting. While a dream is not a goal, often a dream is something that starts you off on the work that is needed to achieve it. At that point, where you start doing the necessary work, the dream becomes a goal.
Goals To Set For 2020
Your goals depend on what you want to achieve. Maybe you want to :
- Lose Weight
- Pass an exam
- Declutter your mind or your home
- Change jobs
- Become Self Employed
- Write A Novel
- Improve your health
- Get fit or fitter
- Improve your IT skills
- Improve your game of golf or soccer or other sport
- Learn to dance
- Learn to draw or paint or improve your artistic skills
- Learn circus skills
- Earn more money
- Make the team in your chosen sport
There could be any number of goals you might want to achieve. There is an argument that you should choose one goal to concentrate on and if you want to pass an exam or make the team, that may take most of your energy for a time. There is also an argument that you could set smaller goals in a number of areas and enjoy reaching several goals. For instance, if you want to improve your drawing, you could draw a single doodle each day (like in Inktober) and this would allow you time to achieve other goals as well.
Any goal you choose to work towards should be set out as a smart goal – it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.
A specific goal says what you will do, specifically, so rather than “lose weight”, you pick an actual amount of weight to lose, say 10 pounds, or 20 pounds.
A measurable goal can be measured. So it might be to lose 2 inches from your waist measurement.
Achievable means that it can actually be achieved. No point in setting a goal to lose 20 pounds weight in a week, if you have only 20 pounds you need to lose anyway. There may be little point in setting a goal to run 1 mile if you suffer from injured knees, for instance.
Realistic means that you will make sure you have the time and ability to dedicate to your goal. If you are already working a 40 hour week and spending another 20 hours on your commute, plus more time looking after a house and children, then finding 10 hours a week for additional study may not be a realistic possibility.
Timebound means setting a time limit on when your desired goal will be achieved. This could be 6 months or a specific date, eg for an event you want to attend.
A SMART goal for losing weight might be, “To lose 20 pounds and 2 inches from my waist in 3 months.”
A SMART goal for improving your writing or drawing might be, “To write 1000 words / draw one doodle, each day for the next 30 days, using the spare hour I have after dinner each evening.
A SMART goal for improving your fitness might be, “To be able to lift X pounds weight 10 times in one session by (date)”, or “To enter and complete a 5k run by the end of (date)”
Outcome goals are end results, such as losing 30 pounds in weight, getting a novel published, getting your painting hung in a public gallery, making the team or setting up your own business. These are more difficult goals because you don’t always have control over whether you will achieve them. You may improve your fitness greatly but might still not be picked for the team. You may want to start your business but can’t get a loan from the bank.
Process goals are what you do to try and achieve your end result. So, if you want to lose weight, you may set yourself a diet allowance of 1500 calories a day or decide to cut out all soda and candy or set out a walking schedule of one hour a day. If you want to start your own business, you may set yourself goals of creating stock to sell, finding premises, setting up a mailing list.
You are more likely to be able to control achievement of process goals more easily.
Fun With Process Goals
During 2019, one person I know decided they would achieve 20 goals in several different areas (20 for 2020). They liked writing, drawing, losing weight and getting fit and wanted to improve themselves in all those areas. So they chose their process goals to help with that. One of these goals was to write 20 articles and publish them. She chose several different sites on which to publish, some of which pay money if people read and interact with the articles. She ended up creating a new website on which to publish certain of her articles. Another goal was to walk a set number of miles in the year. This goal had to be abandoned because of an old injury, so she chose another one that still contributed to her fitness goal. If you want to achieve several goals, then choosing process goals that contribute to one or more outcome goals is a fun and motivating way to achieve this, even if the outcome goal is a worthy one instead of fun. While she did not achieve her target 20 in all of her 20 categories, she felt she was more productive than she had been the previous year. As they say for those taking up the “couch to 5K” program, which can be downloaded as a podcast (at least in the UK, it can) “no matter how slowly you run, you are still lapping the couch potato”.
To get and keep motivation, you need a clear method, setting out your action plan for achieving your goal. You will need one or more outcome goals (e.g. lose 20 pounds weight, make the team, complete a novel, pass an exam) and the process goals for getting there (choose a diet plan, cut out soda and candy, make a healthy lunch each day, attend training sessions, choose to take up the couch to 5k program, work out at the gym 3 times a week, write an outline, write character studies, write for 1 hour a day, etc). The process goals could be a step by step plan for achieving the outcome. For instance, if your outcome goal is to make more sales calls or to keep up to date with your laundry, you may not be terribly excited by that, even though you know it is vital for your well-being or for your job. That means you may not always have the motivation to keep doing it after the first flush of enthusiasm has worn off. If you use process goals and keep a motivation chart, seeing the points mount up can provide good motivation to keep going.
Process goals for making sales calls could include:
- look up the number to call and write it on a list;
- write down the name of the person you are calling;
- write a brief note on WHY you are calling
- write a brief note on the benefits of what you are selling
- write a reminder to ask for a purchase to be made.
- dial the number
Write down each of these process goals on a motivation chart and make a check mark each time you complete one. Give yourself a bonus mark when you complete all the steps and make a sales call to someone.
Process goals for keeping your laundry up to date might be:
- Put washable dirty clothes in laundry basket. Do not add dry clean only clothes;
- When laundry basket is full, put a load in the washing machine (purists might mention here about sorting laundry into different piles, I just get it done);
- Add the washing powder to the drawer;
- Select the program;
- once laundry is finished, hang it on the line or put it in the tumble dryer;
- Once dry, remove laundry from tumble dryer or bring in from line;
- Check laundry is dry, if not, return to dryer or hang on airer;
- Fold laundry and put in airing cupboard.
- Clean out lint and empty water from tumble dryer;
Write down each of these laundry process goals on a motivation chart and make a check mark each time you complete one. Give yourself a bonus mark when you complete all the steps to have a clean dry set of folded laundry.
For some goals, finding a buddy to workout with you can be very motivating, especially if it involves getting up early in the morning for a jog, perhaps. Buddies keep each other motivated and it’s always someone to talk to while you workout.
There are various writing habit calendars available for writers. You can find a 2020 writers’ calendar here.
Time To Get Motivated
2020 is now. Set your goals or aims and work out your action plan to move towards your goals. Remember you have more control over process goals and you can create motivation charts or get motivation calendars to keep you on track.