What?!?! 2018 is today? How did that happen? Wasn’t it 2016 just 2 minutes ago? It is pretty amazing how time disappears like grains of sand falling through our finger tips. This only highlights the importance of planning our time effectively. At the start of the New Year many will sit down to try and write out some New Year’s Resolutions.
While there is nothing wrong with New Year’s Resolutions, I prefer to talk of Goals. New Year’s Resolutions carry with them the connotations of starting something new from scratch yet again. One sets them with no long term plan or with little hope of completing them.
Goals on the other hand are more like stepping stones or rungs on a step ladder to somewhere. In reality a resolution should be a long term objective, while a goal is a shorter term objective on your way to your life’s resolutions.
5 Year Resolutions
If you’ve never thought of goals or resolutions before you need to not just look at the year ahead, but a little longer. A good question to ask yourself when setting resolutions is, “Where do I see myself in 5 years’ time?”
“Where do I see myself…” could include where you want to be, who you want to be, or what you would like to do. But more importantly think of "you" in 5 years’ time.
5 years seems like a long time away, but it will fly by. However when thinking of your 5 year resolutions, dream big. There is more you can achieve in 5 years than you might think. So let’s say you just realized you’ve spent the last 10 years on the couch and you now want to get fit. Don’t be scared to resolve to run a marathon in 5 years’ time. You probably can!
The mistake we make is to resolve to run a marathon in 1 years’ time. While there is more we can do in 5 years than we think there is often less that we can do in 1 year than we think. So once you have decided on some 5 year resolutions write them down leaving space between each one.
1 Year Goals
Now you make the move to plan out some goals for 2018. The goals you make for 2018 need to be the first big step toward your 5 year resolutions you just wrote down. So if your 5 year resolution was “Run a full marathon”, your goal for 2018 might be, “Run a 5km by Christmas.”
When setting these goals you need to become best buds with SAM! In other words the goals you set must be Specific, Attainable, and Measurable.
Specific – goals must not be vague. A bad goal would be “I want to run this year.” If you haven’t run in 2017 one run in 2018 will do it. You’ll find excuses not to run and you’ll lose motivation because you’re not really aiming at anything specific.
Attainable – from couch to full marathon in 1 year is not likely an attainable goal. Neither is “make a million dollars” when you have $2, or “start a tech empire” when you can’t operate a DVD player. Your 5 year resolutions are your big audacious resolutions. Your 1 year goals should stretch you out of your comfort zone, but they should be realistically attainable in a year.
If your 1 year goals are too big you will soon realize you won’t reach them and you’ll lose motivation and give up. “From the couch to 5km in 1 year” is a stretching but attainable goal. It is more than you have done last year, but it’s something achievable in a year.
Measurable – goals must have some sort of measurability to them. Don’t just plan to run more this year plan to run a 5K. Don’t just plan to read more, plan to read X-number of books this year. Don’t just plan to eat healthy, list what you will and won’t eat.
Monthly Baby Steps
Once you have set your goals for the year you’ll need to go back and set up some baby steps of how you will reach that goal every week for the next month. So let’s say you’re doing the 5K by Christmas 2018.
So for January 2018 you might write, “Wake up 30 minutes early and walk for 15 minutes Monday through Saturday morning.” Or for the reader among us, “This month read one chapter a night in bed Monday through Thursday.”
In this phase of goal setting you must set two calendar dates. The first date needs to be for two weeks’ time. This will just be a quick review where you read over your goals to make sure you’re keeping up to speed. You may even mentally make some adjustments.
The second calendar date will be for the last weekend of the month. This will be more formal. Here you write out your baby steps for February 2018. For example, “Wake up 30 minutes early. Walk for 20 minutes every other day, run for 10 minutes every second day Monday through Saturday.”
Every month continue this same routine reviewing every two weeks and planning the next month’s baby steps the weekend before that month begins.
Some Final Tips
Post ‘em - Once you have your 5 Year Resolutions, 2018 Goals, and January 2018 Baby Steps written out post them somewhere visible. For example on the fridge, in your Bible, on your mirror, or on your PC screen. Seeing them every day will keep them fresh in your mind.
Tell ‘em – to keep yourself accountable and encouraged tell someone your goals. Ask them to ask you how you are doing, encourage you, and even give you a kick in the pants if you need it. We need others to help us and we can help others with their goals too.
Track ‘em – It helps to log your progress. This could be as simple as opening a note in your smartphone and simply typing, “Monday 1st – walked for 15 minutes” or “Monday 1st – Read chapter 1”. This will show you if you fall behind but also encourage you that you’re making progress.
Point ‘em – By this...