In between Christmas and new year, I took some time to reflect and set my goals for the year ahead. In previous years, my new year’s resolutions often started with the best of intentions yet quickly ran out of steam, only to become a dim and distant memory by Spring. And there’s a good reason for that: it takes more than a simple promise to yourself to bring about lasting change.
This year, I called upon my training and experience as a professional life and career coach to set my new year’s resolutions and I thought I’d share the 7 steps to setting meaningful goals you’ll actually want to achieve. Whether you have set your goals for the year or it’s still on your to-do list, read on to learn how to make 2018 your best year ever!
Step 1 – What do you want?
Sounds simple, right? Yet, it can be difficult to identify what you really want because it’s often wrapped up in what you should do, what you need to do and what’s expected of you. For example, the annual goal of ‘I should lose weight and get fit’ is the reason the gyms and slimming clubs are packed in January and empty come March. Ponder your goal, is there are ‘should’ or a ‘need to’ in there? It might take a day or two to clarify what you truly want, but stick with it. If your new year’s goal is based on something you truly want, you’ll have a much better chance of achieving it.
Step 2 – What is the dream?
Once you’ve identified what you truly want in step 1, focus on the dream. If you had a magic wand, what does the dream look like? How does it feel? How does your dream honour your values and what does it mean to you? Spending time focusing on your ideal-world dream answers the all-important question of why you want achieve it and gives you the strength to keep going when things get in the way. Visualising yourself having already achieved the goal gives you the power to smash it!
Step 3 – Move from your head to your heart
Setting goals with your head is a sensible start but don’t forget to check in with your heart. Hold your dream in your heart and recognise how it makes you feel. Do you get a sense of warmth, like a slow smile? Or perhaps a fizz of excitement? Maybe you feel a jolt of determination and passion? Our thoughts and feelings drive our behaviour so as long as your dream makes you feel good in some way, you know you’re on to a winner! (If it doesn’t, don’t do it and go back to step 1!)
Step 4 – What might hold you back?
What might hold you back from achieving your goals? No matter how excited or determined you are about your goal, things will get in the way. This could be work or family commitments or it could be the well-hidden, ever-so-sneaky obstacles that are often based on fear and can be difficult to spot by yourself. We all have an Inner Critic that likes to keep us in our comfort zone and when we start to make changes, it pipes up with phrases like “you can’t…”, “you should…” and, my personal favourite, “you’re not good enough…” The Inner Critic is the source of self-sabotaging limiting beliefs that may have been at work for years. This is one of the many reasons why you can achieve so much more when working with a coach who won’t accept the voices of the Inner Critic and challenges you to stretch beyond your self-imposed barriers. And if other things hold you back from achieving your goals, consider this wonderful quote, it’s one of my favourites:
“In order to say yes to your priorities, you have to be willing to
say no to something else.”
Step 5 – Time for action!
Now you’ve identified what you want, what it means to you and how it makes you feel, what are you going to do about it?! To paraphrase astronaut Neil Armstrong, what small step can to take towards achieving your goal? What giant leap can you take? And I would ask, what radical action can you take to get you closer to your goal? Challenge yourself to think big when choosing the action steps to make your dream a reality. And if you can’t map out all the action steps that will get you all the way to your goal, don’t worry! Trust that once you take the first action, the next steps will become clear along the way.
Step 6 – Accountability
Find an accountability partner (or a coach – hello!) who can keep you focused on your goals. The simple act of telling another person about what you want to achieve can keep you on track. And knowing that someone else cares about how you’re getting on can give you the energy to keep going. However, this step comes with a word of warning: please choose your accountability partner very carefully. Ideally, your accountability partner will not be affected by your goal and therefore have no reason to add their own thoughts, opinions and agenda into the mix. And they will be supportive, positive and encourage you towards achieving your goal. If you have such a person in your life, cherish them for they are a rare breed! Tell them about your goal, agree when you’re going to check-in with them and plan how you’re both going to celebrate when you’ve achieved it.
Step 7 – Well done you!
As well as keeping your eyes on the prize, it’s important to pause every now and then and acknowledge how far you have come. This is especially important on those days when achieving your goal feels like a long way to go. At regular points on your journey stop, look back and give yourself a pat on the back for all the actions you have taken and everything you have achieved up to this point. You may wish to reward yourself and factor in little rewards going forwards. It will make the rest of the journey so much easier.
I hope you have enjoyed the 7 Steps to making 2018 your Best Year Ever. If you would like some help along the way, from a coach who will cheer you on, keep you on track and support you with every step of the journey, please do get in touch.