New Years (non) Resolutions. It’s not too late.

I’ve never been much on New Year’s resolutions. Good intentions seem to fizzle out, oh say, around January 15th. I am, however, a big fan of annual goal setting. It prevents me from wandering around aimlessly during the year which I have been known to do on more than one occasion. Ultimately, without some form of a road map I end up wondering at the end of the year where all my time and energy went.

I usually begin thinking about my goals for the new year at the end of November. I need structure. Nothing happens for me without a process.  I start by getting something, well anything, down on paper and play with it for a week or two. If I don’t write it down I forget what I was thinking and I just lack focus. I decide what areas of my life I really want or “need” to work on. Sometimes I decide that one area of my life needs my undivided attention. Other years I pick a few areas. Then I set it aside for a month or so and let ideas percolate before I finalize my plan.

With that being said, now is the time of year that I fine tune my goals. Sometimes you just have to get real about what you can accomplish. I do think you need to be ambitious but at the same time not give yourself a headache. Too much on your plate just sets you up to feel overwhelmed and wanting to give up before you even get started. I usually set only two large goals for the year. Smaller goals like cleaning out the laundry/storage room with the help of my “willing” children are usually sprinkled in the mix. I find that manageable. Everyone has to experiment with what works for them.

After walking away from my plan for a month or so I will ask myself a few questions.

  • Is this something that I really feel committed to right now?
  • Is the time right?
  • Is it a realistic goal?
  • Am I taking on too much?

I wish I would have started this process years ago. I never had any real idea where I was headed or what I wanted out of life. I thought that everything would work itself out and I would magically land where I was supposed to. As Dr. Phil would say, “So how is that working out for you?” My answer would be not well. I wondered how some people seemed to have a keen sense of direction and I was envious. I have since realized it was because they made a conscious decision to steer their lives in some direction. There was no magic about it. I think my oldest daughter taught me this. I marveled at how she made a decision, figured out a plan and then executed it. She is never fraught with doubt she simply moves forward. Obviously, she did not inherit this trait from me.

When I finally did figure out the” what” I wanted it all right now. I spent years not narrowing my focus  attempting to do too many things at once. I just ended up running faster arriving nowhere and managed to only exhausted myself mentally and physically!!! I wish someone would have knocked me over the head and told me to snap out of it!  Being strategic trumps doing everything at once any day.

I finally figured out that getting what you want out of life is a matter of:

  • Figuring out the “what”. Right or wrong pick something and get started.
  • Narrowing your focus and becoming strategic.
  • Putting thought into the “how” of getting there.
  • Breaking the “how” into small steps so your goals are achievable.
  • Figuring out what obstacles will stand in your way.
  • Figuring out how to remove the obstacles or more realistically how to go around them.
  • Putting your plan in writing and not think it to death.
  • Being flexible and adjust course when needed.
  • Most importantly and most difficult, doing the things you know you need to do. To quote Scott Allen~ “Done is better than perfect.” Spending time getting ready to get ready is nothing but a waste of time. I should know I am a pro at thinking every detail though. While some careful thought is necessary too much can keep you frozen in inaction.

So even though we are nearing the end of January it’s not too late to chose some goals for 2011. I dare you to pick even one and follow it through and see what a sense of accomplishment you have on New Years Eve, 2011!

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