So talking about 2012 goals is all well and good… but just naming them isn’t enough. You’ve got to make a plan so that they’re more than a memory by February.
I’m not speaking from accolades of success here. This is Tsh, Normal Person, writing here. Like you, I’m busy, too quickly overwhelmed, and so often distracted by the next shiny object. “Get in shape? Who wants to do that? There’s cookies.”
Remember, grace is important. So is striving for excellence, not perfection. Don’t forget to siphon through the reasons behind your resolution—do you want to accomplish it so you can cross it off? Or will it genuinely make you more available to enjoy God?
Let’s practice this.
From my e-book, One Bite at a Time, you’ve got at least 52 projects that could serve well as a 2012 goal. It might serve you well as a springboard to give you ideas, encouragement, and motivation. As an example, let’s take projects 3 and 47 and mesh them together for one goal: to wake up earlier and enjoy a morning routine.
How could you approach this goal? Well, for one, you could wake up an hour earlier tomorrow morning and tackle a five-item checklist while rubbing sleep from your eyes. It’s possible… for some. Not for me, admittedly. My covers are warm in the morning.
Let’s say you manage to wake up early for a solid month—you’re good into early February. Then one day, the kids stay home from school because of a snowstorm, or you’ve got a particularly stressful week at work, or your husband’s out of town. You’re thrown a curveball, in other words. Your new morning routine might not magically work.
Perfectly fine—remember, we’re going for excellence, not perfection. But this resolution is sorta up to you, and you alone—no one else is required to wake up early and perform a five-item routine. You’re in it alone. What if no one knows about this goal of yours? How easy will it be to get back into the groove after a less-than-normal week?
There are two keys that seem essential for resolutions to stick: going a little at a time, and finding accountability in other people.
1. Kaizen—baby steps, baby.
As I mention in project 47 of One Bite, kaizen is a Japanese word that means very small, continuous change. It’s little drips of water that fill a bucket over a long period of time, not a firehose in a few minutes.
What does it have to do with reaching goals? It’s easiest to see kaizen in action with the goal to wake up earlier:
First, set your alarm for one hour earlier tomorrow morning, and see how you feel. Not so great, perhaps.
Now, set your alarm for two minutes earlier, and see how you feel. Probably exactly the same as your normal morning. Now set it two minutes earlier the next day—you’re now waking up four minutes earlier than usual. I’d wager you’re doing fine.
Rinse and repeat for a solid month—in 30 days, you’re waking up an hour earlier, and it probably wasn’t terribly painful. That’s kaizen.
You can apply the kaizen approach to anything—start with a one-item morning routine and do that for a week. Then add two. Then three. In five weeks, you’ve got a lovely little routine of five things every morning. Nice.
Want to lose a lot of weight? Don’t aim for 100 pounds in 365 days. Go for five pounds in 30 days.
Photo by Dawn of My Home Sweet Home
2. No woman is an island.
I asked my Twitter followers for one key thing to make new year’s resolution stick. The most popular answer? Accountability, or making your goal public. Getting others involved, in other words.
You might feel weird asking a friend to keep you accountable to lose 10 pounds, or to stick with a menu plan, or to not watch as much TV. But guess what? She’s got something, too. You could reach goals together, even if they’re not the same ones.
A few ways to use the power (and fun) of camaraderie:
• Gather a small group of friends at a monthly coffee date, and encourage each other to stick with your goals. If you’d rather do it online, meet with a friend over Skype or Facebook. Kat and I meet monthly via Skype, where I encourage her to reach her blogging goals; she helps me meet my fitness goals.
• Write a post about it on your blog, and commit to writing a monthly update.
• If you’d like to use my e-book, Jeannett of Life Rearranged will be writing about her personal progress on the first Friday of each month on Simple Mom—and we invite you to share your progress in the comments. It’ll be readers encouraging other readers, together.
Set yourself up for success. if you really, truly want to reach your 2012 goals, do what you can to remove obstacles. It’s much easier, and it’s more fun, too.
What 2012 goal of yours seems insurmountable? What’s one thing you can do to make it happen?