Are you dreaming of something you’d like to see happen in this next year? I hope so.
To have something to look forward to keeps us going — whether it’s a financial goal like saving enough money to take a family vacation, or a personal goal like becoming more healthy, earning a promotion at work, or spending more time with your children or grandchildren.
I have found that the best way to make changes and improve your life from year to year is to go step-by-step into some positive goal-making as you move into the new year.
Here is how I do it and perhaps these five simple steps will help you:
Step 1: Reflect on the past year. What accomplishments did you make this past year? (Did you pay off some bills, attend an exercise class at least 3 days a week, draft a book you’d like to someday publish?) What would you like to do again this year? On the flip side, what didn’t go so well? What needs to improve? What was missing from your life? By taking a good long look at where you were in the past year, you can set tangible goals for where you want to be at the end of this next year. For instance, I met many of my financial and physical goals, but I wasn’t as consistent in achieving some professional goals. And I felt I could be a lot more disciplined….rising earlier and working smarter (and getting distracted less) so I make better use of my time working full time here at home.
Step 2: Make goals, not resolutions. Resolutions tend to be negative (“I resolve to never indulge in that habit again) or daunting (“I resolve to give up sweets and lose ten pounds). Instead, think positively and set tangible, positive goals in front of you. (“I’d like to complete 200 exercise classes this year so I feel better and younger by the time the year ends.”) Doesn’t that sound more inviting? (Well, the “better and younger” part, probably, but not the “e-word” right?) Be specific in your goal and think about the benefit of achieving it so you keep the desired outcome in front of you.
Step 3: Write them down and review them often. Studies show that just writing down a goal increases the likelihood of achieving it by 42 percent! Wow. Write away. And don’t be afraid to write down several goals…or write down one goal, several times. 🙂
Step 4: Schedule a daily or weekly step toward accomplishing your goal. Commit to doing one thing each day or each week to get to your specified goal. For instance, I completed reading only two books this past year. (For me, that’s pathetic. I usually read one book a month or at least one book a quarter. I started several, but finished only two — the last week of December when I realized I hadn’t completed half of what I started when it came to book reading.) So this next year, it is a priority to me to finish reading at least four books, in four particular topics. And I plan to do that by scheduling reading time in my calendar every week so I can complete a devotional book to grow closer to God, a marriage book to grow closer to my husband, a book on managing finances to help meet my financial goals, and a book to grow me professionally in my area of expertise.
Step 5: Commit it to God. Finally, as you set your goals, commit them to God. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.” God has a way of honoring what we surrender to Him. And He sometimes turns those goals and commitments into something far bigger or better than we had imagined. Trust Him. He has your best at heart.
I’d love to know your top 1 or 2 goals for the new year. Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll offer some encouraging words or verses for you so you can keep that goal in front of you all year.