Goals: Do we have what it takes?

Any of these New Year’s Resolutions sound familiar?

  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Run a marathon
  • Write the Great American Novel
  • Finish college
  • Pay off credit cards

But, does anyone really think about the time, sweat and sacrifice these goals require?

Not much!  That’s why most lists will be little more than a memory by Valentine’s Day.

How I avoid goal failure:

Focus on the road between you and the target, not the target itself:

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

You need to enjoy, or at least have tolerance for, what it takes to meet the goals.  Otherwise, it’s just torture.

Since Hostess is out of business, I won’t torment myself with the sacrifice of Twinkies, Cupcakes and Ho-Hos.  They’re already gone.  And, I’ve already mourned.  😦

My road toward weight loss will include developing a taste for more nutritious food.  I’m also going to have to find exercises that I can enjoy — or in my case not hate.

Break the goal down into smaller chunks:

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. Henry Ford

Schedule mini-goals for yourself.   Smaller targets reduce the pressure and ensure progress.

When I was working on my college degree while working full-time, I concentrated on each single course or semester.  I didn’t let myself think about how much more I had to go until the end of a term.  I kept a chart of the courses needed and celebrated each time I crossed one off the page.

Reward yourself:

There are two things people want more than sex and money — recognition and praise. Mary Kay Ash

Recognize your successes, especially the smallest ones.  Praise your efforts, especially the ones no one else can see.

Even the small rewards can help ease the pain.  For me, it’s shoes!  I’ll find a great pair online and keep the image prominently displayed on my calendar. Each day I accomplish my tasks is another day closer to the reward.

Create new habits to replace the old ones:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

It takes 21 days to build a new habit, the scholars say.  I must have missed that memo — it takes me quite a bit longer.

A habit I once had (and must now rebuild)  is daily running.  About 5 or 6 years ago I ran at least 3 miles a day.  I’ll never be a fast runner, but at least I was consistent.  I had a habit.  I felt like crap when I skipped a day.  Now I feel like crap when I jog a mile.

My current habit is to dive back under the covers at 5:30 am.  It’s going to take some major effort to reach the “excellence” Aristotle suggests.  But, I have a major reward in mind!

Be kind to yourself:

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.  Confucius

Be mindful of the goals you set.

More important, be realistic about what it will take from you to achieve them.

Most important – pay attention to your own self talk.  You need to be your biggest cheerleader.   Take positive action to redirect.

In the end, your goals are your own.  Sometimes it’s helpful to share them with others and hold yourself accountable to your support network.  Here are some of mine for 2013:

  • Lose 40 pounds
  • Finish two romance novels
  • Learn piano improvisation

I have smaller targets and support networks set up for each of my big goals.  And, of course, many rewards (shoes) along the way.  For me, it’s all about enjoying the journey.  Make it worth it.

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.  Maya Angelou