At the beginning of the new year, many people make resolutions to: lose weight, get organized, save money, spend more time with family, quit smoking, get more exercise, and do better in general. Unfortunately, by this far into the year, many people have also given up on their 2002 resolutions.
This is unfortunate and suggests that a different approach is needed to successfully tackle life goals.
Below are a few suggestions:
First, write down what you want to accomplish and by when. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, write: I will lose 10 pounds by August. This goal is measurable. You can chart your progress. How much weight do you need to lose each month to make your goal. Is the goal possible to accomplish? Many people set goals that are impossible to reach. When it becomes obvious that they will not reach their goal, they quit altogether.
Second, develop an action plan. Ask yourself: What steps do I need to take to accomplish this goal? What needs to happen? What must I do? For example, if your goal is to get your finances organized, you might list: Track my expenses for a month, calculate my income, open a savings account, etc. List all the steps in chronological order. This way you will have a time table to work with - step one, step two, etc.
Next, think of all the things that might prevent you from reaching your goal. Write them down on a sheet of paper. Beside each obstacle you list, write down two or three ways you could overcome the obstacle. If your goal is to spend more time with your family, some obstacles might be too many demands from club activities or a second job. Sometimes these problems never arise, but, when they do, you have a plan of action.
Identify all of the resources you will need to help you accomplish your goal. Are there books you could read that might help? Could you join a group of people who are working toward the same goal? Are there professionals in the community you could contact who could assist you in some way?
Plan to give yourself small rewards along the way. As you reach milestones along the way to accomplishing your goal, think of ways to give yourself encouragement and support. Do something you like, give yourself a treat, or spend time with people you enjoy.
Evaluate and adjust your plan as you go. If you don't reach one of your milestones, re-group. Don't give up. Adjust your plan. See what s working and what is not. Look at how you spend your time, energy and money. Are you moving toward your goals? If not, make the necessary adjustments. If you want to save $1,000 this year, you won't do it if you don't pay attention to where the nickels and dimes go each day. Remember that each decision you make each day will determine the outcome of your goals.
This message is sponsored by Rutgers Cooperative Extension. For further information about available educational programs and other services, contact your local Rutgers Cooperative Extension office.