With the coming of the new year, many people, myself included, make promises and goals which they hope to achieve in the near future. Goal setting exercises are not only useful but they are needed as well. At least for myself, I do better when I know what my target is. It’s hard to navigate through the day or week or month without a plan and a strict schedule. Without such things, I find that I have wasted the day.
Which is why for the next year, I’ve made resolutions as I have done previously. However, in the previous years, I have failed to stay true to my word because in those years, I had simply just made a list of things that I hoped I would be able to do but I did not make a detailed plan on how I meant to achieve my goals.
Furthermore, even the goals were vague. They were as simple as getting stronger or read more books or to write consistently. Such vague goals are hard to track and without consistent feedback of whether I am improving or if I’m plateauing and failing to keep going in the proper direction, I find myself giving up, giving into a list of excuses and ultimately being content with failure.
In order to counter such a possible future for myself, I need detailed goals and a plan to achieve them. Instead of simply saying “get stronger”, I have to list exactly how much weight I plan on lifting in a particular exercise by the end of the year. Instead of saying “read more books”, I need to make a list of 50 books or so that I plan on finishing next year. Instead of saying “write consistently”, I need to dial in either a number of words per day or number of pages per day and so on, applying more specific goals at whatever I wish to improve. Careers, relationships, hobbies, etc, all can be broken down into specific targets or marks that you wish to hit.
Detailed goals are the first step, the second step is the plan. With planning, one needs to answer how and visualize possible failures or obstacles. How do you plan on achieving this goal? Would you have to wake up earlier in the morning? Would you have to make better use of your lunch break? How should your works be split? Does it mean cutting back on distractions that take up your time? Would you need constant reminders to stay on track? What daily practices do you have to do? Weekly? What takes priority? Can you split your time efficiently or is it best to tackle each goal one at a time?
Answer each question may raise more questions but through this exercise, you get to narrow down how you need to act in order to get to where you wish to go.
The biggest obstacle when it comes to such an exercise is yourself. Your own habits and actions. In a way, your self sabotaging manners cause you to fail. At least, I have found this to be true for myself. Hence, why you must visualize. You have to see yourself doing the task that you have set for yourself and then see all the ways that you may prevent yourself from fulfilling the tasks. This may be as simple as understanding your desire to hit the snooze button and then scroll through social media before getting up in the morning, however, by the time you get up, you may have wasted the early start that you had planned in order to get one of your tasks done. Or, visualization may tackle more important issues, such as negative self-talk. Perhaps you have to see yourself attempting and failing a task and then know your negative self-talk will cause you to either not try again and give up on the task or try with a lousy effort, fail faster and then give up. Through visualizing you can at least know that certain obstacles will be there and so, you can plan for those obstacles rather than blindly running.
Resolutions, goals, promises are important, in many ways, this is how people find meaning in their lives, it gives people a sense of direction which is why that feeling of not achieving your goals hurts so much and feels so horrible because it really did mean something to you. Having specific goals and a plan of action can help, however, even such things are bulletproof. Failure is part of life and you may fail to keep up with all your resolutions, however, if you can improve even one aspect of your life through resolutions and goal setting, then its worth the effort.