Our goals, or New Year’s resolutions, are often only discussed towards the end of December and in January. After that, most of us seem to operate on autopilot and then wonder where time went when we are wrapping up another 365 days of unachieved goals. To avoid repeating this same pattern year after year, it is important to follow steps that will actually guide you towards achieving these goals that you have been desiring for so long. Lets take a look at them:
1. ESTABLISH THAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT THAT GOAL
As obvious at this point seems, it is one of the most overlooked hindrances to achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.
“Why would I set a goal I don’t actually want?” Is probably the question running through your mind. The answer is that you’re in love with the idea of having achieved the goal, but not the actual goal itself. “Fall in love with the process” is the cliché way to describe this term. But there’s a reason that phrase is often repeated.
Let’s take an example — some of us may set a goal to lose weight by the end of the year. But do you really want to? Or are you just in love with the idea of having toned thighs and a flat stomach? I don’t blame you — most of us want that. But it takes hours at the gym and mindful healthy eating to achieve this. Is this something you want to or would be able to commit to? It doesn’t mean that you wake up every day dreaming of doing two hours of crossfit or drinking celery juice, but if the idea of cutting out your favourite high-carb foods like chapatis and fries, or taking up a vigorous sport or going to the gym at least thrice a week sounds borderline horrific to you, then you might actually not be in love with that weight-loss goal. And chances are you won’t stick to it.
Fret not, though. Realising that you don’t want something you thought you wanted is quite freeing.
1. Anticipate challenges
Many of us fall into the trap of romanticising our dreams.
If I want it bad enough, it will come to me naturally and flawlessly. Allow me to introduce you to reality. The going does get tough. However, some of us automatically start to interpret this as a sign from the universe that we’re on the wrong path. Life is marked with uncertainty, distractions, and challenges. That’s the reality. If have doubts, go back to the first step and establish the WHY of your goal. If - after careful consideration you are sure of this goal, list down at least four challenges you might face when trying to achieve your goal. Come up with effective ways to navigate these challenges. Find an online community on a similar journey to yours and open up about some of your hurdles. You might strike gold in the guidance you receive there.
2. Set Realistic Goals
I know. The first time I heard this, I wanted to punch the person who said it, because it felt like a huge blow to my ego. How dare you imply that I can’t achieve this goal!
But let’s be clear here, I’m not attempting to put limits on anyone’s capabilities. However, consider this other scenario: You’ve been attempting to lose weight for a long time now. At first it was five kilos for the year, but you didn’t do so. At the end of that first year, you promised yourself to lose 10 kilos the next year — five for the first year and another five for the next. That also didn’t work out. Years later, you’re now carrying forward 40 kilos you “need to lose”.
The issue with this line of thought is that now you want to work on overdrive to shed the weight. You decide to start 5km runs every day while eating only veggies. At this point, you’ve changed your routine too much for it to be sustainable. The first two weeks or month might go by very smoothly. But after that, you will eventually suffer a burnout and give up. Instead, work on achieving the goal piecemeal. Reduce your portion sizes by 10 per cent first and see if you lose weight. After you have achieved that small goal, you can now “level up” to something more challenging — like hitting the gym once or twice a week. It’s just like playing a game, or learning a language. You don’t automatically start at the advanced stages, rather, you build up to it.
3. Embrace small beginnings
I am guilty for detesting small beginnings. When I start something new, I want to be a professional in one or two days. But this is a surefire way to end up feeling disillusioned and to quit.
You might not see progress in the first week or even month, but if you have established a good routine and stick to it, you will eventually see results. Learning a new skill or changing your habits takes time and consistency. That’s why it’s important to be patient with yourself and enjoy that learning curve that seems to last a lifetime. Fall in love with the process, remember?
2. INCORPORATE YOUR GOAL INTO DAILY ROUTINE
The first step to incorporating your goals into your daily routine, is to break them down into steps that you can undertake either daily or weekly.
After that, take a look at your calendar. *In case you don’t plan your days out, now would be a good time to start. *
Is it possible to fit in your goal into your daily/weekly routine? If you currently cannot, is it possible to wake up 1-2 hours earlier, or sleep later to work on achieving your goals?
If the answer is No, there’s a high chance you will not have made any progress on your goal by the end of the year. At this point, it is extremely important to conduct some soul-searching in order to find out what is most important to you. You might end up establishing that your days are occupied with meaningless activities which you can do away with, or you might have to compromise on some activities in order to get more important things done.
3. SET DEADLINES
A mentioned before, it’s extremely important to embrace small beginnings. But as you’re doing this, you also need to work within stipulated time frames. Otherwise, your brain is tricked into thinking that it has all the time in the world. If your goal is to lose 10 kilos but you give yourself a whole year, your brain thinks this is quite a lot of time, so you will end up approaching your goal with a laissez-faire attitude. You’ll miss a couple of gym sessions here and there, convincing yourself that you will compensate for this time in the remaining months of the year. Then suddenly it’s November, and now you want to overcompensate by doing the most.
A better way to approach this is by giving yourself four or six-week schedules, after which you evaluate your progress and see what needs to be added, removed or adjusted. This will also act as a constant reminder of your overall goal and increase your level of accountability and productivity.
Apply these steps this year and see how they work for you. And remember, even if you fall back or slack a bit, be kind to yourself and just pick up where you left off. You’ll blow your own mind at the end of the year when you’re reflecting on how much you have achieved.