Now that the year 2014 has ended, it’s time to look back and consider how the year went.
What goals did you set for yourself in 2014? How many of them did you accomplish?
I know I often start a new year with lofty goals. By December I’m looking back and wondering why I didn’t accomplish more of them.
As you start looking ahead to 2015, here’s a 7-step plan you can use to make it more likely you’ll meet your goals in the coming year.
This plan will work for all areas of your life.
Do you want to lose weight? Follow this plan.
Do you want to pay off your debts? Here’s a plan for you.
Do you want to run a 10K? You got it. This plan will work for you.
Does that sound too good to be true? It’s really not. These 7 steps, when you use them, can help you achieve any of your goals.
Let’s dive in and see how.
Step 1. Your Goal
What do you want to accomplish? This could be a short-term goal or a long-term goal.
Make your goal as specific as possible. Make sure your goal is reasonable and realistic based on your current circumstances. Also, include why it’s important for you to accomplish this goal. What’s your reason why?
For example, don’t just say that you want to lose weight. Rather, say you want to lose 10 pounds. Even better, say you want to lose 10 pounds so that you’ll feel better and can enjoy playing with your grand kids.
Many people find that they only accomplish goals when have a strong reason why for the goal.
For another example, don’t just think about reducing your credit card debt. Instead, write down the total amount of you owe on your credit card and declare that you will pay off the whole debt.
Step 2. Your Process
How are you going to get there?
If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, how will you do it? What changes will you make in your eating habits? What sort of exercise routine will you do? How many times a week? Again, be specific.
It may be a good idea to do a little research before picking a process. Pick a process that you know has worked for people in circumstances similar to yours.
Also, it’s best to pick your process and stick with it. Don’t go jumping from one thing to another.
Of course, you might discover that the process you’ve chosen won’t get you to your goal. Then you’ll have to change it.
Step 3. Your Deadline
When will you do it by?
Make it firm and real. Remember tests in school? So maybe cramming the night before wasn’t always the best strategy. But that deadline forced you to apply yourself.
Sometimes life gives you deadlines. For example, your wedding day or the day you’re supposed to start a family vacation. Use those dates to your advantage.
Other times, you’ll need to make up your own deadline. Having a real deadline is a powerful motivator.
Step 4. Your Action Steps
What are you going to do every day to reach your goal?
For sure, you won’t reach your goal by sitting on the couch. Unless your goal is to watch all the episodes of Gilligan’s Island.
For best results you should do work on your goal consistently. Taking small steps every day is usually the best. Even on those days when you don’t feel like doing anything.
Be aware that progress in learning almost any skill is seldom a straight line. You will have times when you zoom forward and other times when you seem to stand still or even go backward. Be prepared for the slumps and know that they will soon pass.
To use the credit card example, it’s small amounts of money you save / don’t spend every day that will get you to your goal.
Step 5. Track Your Progress
Who will you report to?
When possible, it’s best to be responsible to someone you view as an authority figure. This could be your business partner, doctor, pastor, mentor, or coach.
Remember, even the most successful professional athletes still have coaches and practice nearly every day.
For example, some company health plans require you to meet weight and fitness goals to get health insurance discounts. That’s real accountability!
At the very least, start a tracking diary to record your progress and write it down every day or every week.
Be sure that what you’re tracking is meaningful. So, if your goal is to learn how to play guitar, don’t just track how days you practiced. Keep track of how long each practice session was and how many new and old songs you practiced.
Be honest with yourself. Use your tracking diary as a tool to keep you moving forward. Use it to evaluate if your actions are getting you where you want to be.
Step 6. Your Support Team
Share what you are trying to accomplish with friends and family. You could also share with online friends in a forum.
These should be positive people who approve of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Say you want to lose 10 pounds but your best friend is 25 pounds overweight. She may be a great person, but she may feel threatened by your weight loss goal.
Find positive people who will give you a boost when you’re feeling down. They should also be honest with you and give you a kick when you’re not living up to your potential.
Step 7. Your Incentives
What will be your reward for success? Or what will be your penalty for failure?
Here you can apply either the carrot or the stick. It depends on you and what your goal is.
When I was in college I had a knee operation. Recovery was slow and painful. My wife and I decided that my reward for getting back into running shape would be to run in the San Francisco Bay to Breakers Race.
Other times using the stick is a better approach. Many people have been able to break bad habits by using a system of fines. For example, every time you swear you put $1 into the “swear jar.” This is super effective if you’ve pledged the money to an organization that you don’t like.
Also, remember to celebrate your small victories.
Maybe your goal is to be able to run 5 miles. Celebrate the first time you run a mile without stopping. Sure, it’s not the final goal, but it’s still a milestone.
As you can see none of these steps are too difficult.
Here’s the 7 steps again:
1. Goal – where you want to go
2. Process – how you’ll get there
3. Deadline – when you’ll get there
4. Action Steps – what you will do every day
5. Track Your Progress – those who are watching over you
6. Support Team – those who are cheering for you
7. Incentives – your reward
Every one of these steps is important. Sure, you know people who reach goals without following all of the steps. But, you greatly increase your chance of success when you use all of these steps.
Since you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’re interested in reaching your full potential in 2015.
I suggest you look take a look at Dennis Becker’s new book Unlock Your Ideal Self.
Dennis will show you how to
- figure out what’s really most important to you
- let go of bad patterns, feelings, and mistakes
- make powerful, lasting changes, starting today
- and much more …
I wish you much success in setting and achieving your goals.Picture credits: Flickr – Alan Cleaver, 123rf.com, Flickr pagedooley, SXC.hu, Flickr, Deposit Photos