See Your Goals Through

As 2013 begins, it brings with it the fresh promise of new beginnings. Many of us have felt this magic and the accompanying desire to recharge and renew our lives. At first, our New Year’s resolutions seem amazing and life-changing; but as time passes, we often struggle to keep them, resulting in the notoriety of resolutions in general. But does it have to be this way?

Surprisingly, the problem is less one of keeping the resolutions and more of an incomplete goal setting process. Achievable goals don’t just start with a sheet on the wall and checkmarks detailing whether we did or did not keep the resolution. There are several steps associated with the most successful goal setting practices; we’ll look at these below.

Set Your Goals

? Think big: Think and dream. Be as unrealistic, or as realistic, as you want.

? Narrow your focus: You’ve created your dream goals, but now you need to break them down into specific, achievable segments. This makes it much more likely that you’ll end up keeping your resolutions. For instance, instead of writing ?I want to lose thirty pounds,? narrow and define it to ?I want to lose two pounds each week, consistently, over the next four months.?

? Be specific: Research indicates that the more specific you are, the more likely you’ll succeed. Figure out what steps you’ll need to take to achieve your smaller (and ultimately larger) goals. Stop drinking sugary pop? Limit your evening wine to one glass? Reserve an hour a day for working on your business? These will help crystallize your goals and what you need to do to achieve them.

? Likeability factor: If your goals or substeps include something you detest doing, chances are you won’t get too far with it. Not up for the traditional jog around the park? Loathe the treadmill? Change around your goals with new ideas to end up with the same outcome. A Zumba or Pilates class might offer you the same level of fitness you desire, but with a lot more fun, too.

? Vocabulary counts: Do you plan to ?burn? fat or just lose it? Are you going to ?savour? that extra daily salad or just eat it? Positive descriptions in goal setting can be a big factor in terms of motivation.

Carry Them Out

? Who’s got your back? It’s true; You’re far less likely to cheat on a resolution or let it slide into nothingness if you know someone’s watching your back. Nominate someone you know and trust, someone who can keep you pointed in the right direction but who assures your confidentiality. Then make yourself accountable by checking in with your ?buddy? regularly, reviewing your goals and progress. Not only will this person become a personal motivation?no one likes to admit slacking off to another person?but she may also be able to offer an objective view on why you might be having trouble thinking those four positive thoughts each morning, for example. This can help you tweak your goals to achieve maximum success.

? Check in regularly: It’s not enough to create an accountability buddy; you also need to check in regularly with him to review your goals and your progress. How often you do this is up to you, depending on what you feel you need. Usually, It’s recommended to meet at least once monthly initially. Be sure to avoid the vague ?meet once a month? mandate, though; before you know it, several months will have slipped by without any progress. Set a specific, regularly occurring day, like the last Sunday of the month or every second Tuesday evening.

? Keep on reviewing: Both on your own and during your check-in time, make sure You’re asking the right questions. Choose a quiet spot and talk over your goals. How has your success record been? Are your goals still in line with your dreams, or have they gone off-tangent somehow? Or have your dreams shifted? Is it time to rethink your goals and resolutions in terms of changes in your life?

New Year’s resolutions can be a source of comedy?or they can be the springboard for long-term achievement. With a few precautions, 2013 could be the year you finally see them through!

Katie D’Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.