I had New Year’s Day lunch with my family yesterday and we were talking about 2015 resolutions and the types of goals we wanted to set and achieve this year. 2014 was the first year that I actually kept my resolutions. Like, ever. I displayed them on the chalkboard in the laundry room and left them up all year long.
Every time I walked into the room to wash, dry, fold or iron clothes my goals were right in my face. I couldn’t escape them or make excuses or deal with them later. You have no idea how much this simple act of seeing my goals every day helped me stay on track.
I’ve never really had a problem with goal setting though. You know what’s been my problem? Following through.
It’s completely ironic that my goals were written on the chalkboard in the laundry room. Don’t get me wrong. I have a beautiful laundry room. It has the folding station I dreamed of and the drying rack that is better than I could have imagined. I pride myself in crossing the word “laundry” off my to do list. Unfortunately, I was crossing off the word laundry with one hand and leaving my clothes on top of my dresser NOT PUT AWAY with the other.
It was really hypocritical and left me feeling frustrated most days. It doesn’t matter if you need help with goal setting, follow through or even motivation I know this system works. With repeated practice I was able to not only change following through with the laundry but change my follow through in other areas as well. The pantry went from this:
and the results have lasted almost a year. Here’s how you can set and achieve your goals with a few simple steps:
Step One: Define Your Goal in Clear Specific Terms
Say your goal is “I want to be healthy.” That’s a HUGE goal! Where exactly do you want to be healthy? In your eating habits, your cholesterol numbers, your relationships, your exercise routine, your finances, your negative self talk, your book club choices? I want to be healthy is overwhelming from the beginning because the goal is too broad. You have to be clear with your intentions and specific in your focus, “I want to develop healthier eating habits,” is totally doable.
Step Two: Make a Realistic Plan of Action
If “I want to develop healthier eating habits” is your defined goal, it means you’re going to have to find healthier recipes. It also means you should probably stop eating fast food every day at lunch. It may not be realistic for you to say, “I’m eating 21 healthy meals a week” but it could be realistic for you to commit to starting with 3 healthy meals a week and work your way up from there.
Step Three: Give Yourself a Visible Timeline
Some of the most amazing people I know work well under pressure. I do not. I stink at multi-tasking. Stink. At. It. But you know what I can be amazing at? Procrastinating. That’s right, delayed decision-making I excel at. Giving yourself a time line allows you to be flexible within the set of boundaries you’ve created to help achieve your goals. “I want to develop healthier eating habits” becomes “I am willing to commit to eating 3 healthy meals a week at dinner.” And in addition, “I am willing to spend (insert your number here) hours a week researching healthy recipes.” Set a date for example, “Every Sunday night, I will look through cookbooks or recipes online and create a healthy menu for the week.” Once you have your menu in place make it visible to help you stay on track.
Step Four: Find an Accountability Partner
This is one can be scary but you need to do it. You need to find someone that is loving enough to call you out when you’re floundering but respects you enough to be your biggest cheerleader. It doesn’t matter if your accountability partner sends you an encouraging text that reads, “You can eat healthy today. I believe in you.” Or a phone call asking how you’re doing with meal planning. Tell them specifically what your goals are and work together to create a plan that will help keep you on track consistently. I truly believe having an accountability partner fosters positive changes for the long haul.
Step Five: Celebrate Your Progress
Obviously, healthy eating is going to benefit your overall mind, body and spirit but celebrating the progress you make each day/week/month is really important too. It’s going to be the motivation you need to keep at it when you feel like stressing eating brownie batter. I promise you’re going to feel amazing when you choose to take a hot bath and relax your mind instead of grabbing a bag of candy. There’s nothing like the satisfaction that comes from the smallest victories be it eating celery instead of chips or putting your lavender scented linens into the basket tagged “sheets” in the closet.
Goals are achieved one step at a time. Every day you work toward reaching those goals you make progress. Keep in touch and let me know what I can do to help encourage you on your goal setting and achieving journey.