It's that time of year again. Goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. What do you have as yours? Weight loss? Saving money? Travel? Quit smoking? It's nice to have aspirations of being a better version of yourself, and we've all heard that writing down our goals increase our chances of actually reaching them by 60% or whatever (because 60% of the time, it works 100% of the time), so that's what we do.
The thing is, even if you've written down your goal for the upcoming year (and it was a pretty easy one to think up, because it's the same one you've had for the last few years as well), what are you going to do about it? Most people are all about getting inspired, which is why all those motivational posts, videos, and stories are so popular. Those allow viewers to get the "slow clap" feeling of ambition and then are inspired to "do something great." And that's where most people stop. That's also where anything goal-oriented stops. They just get the feeling, the inspiration, maybe an idea or two, and then....go to the next thing that will hold their attention for a couple minutes.
Then there are some people who are inspired and actually write down their aspirations (or goals, or resolutions, whatever you want to call them), because, well, that's how things happen, right? Don't get me wrong, writing your goals down is a great thing. It solidifies your want, it uses multiple sensory input and outputs to help you remember that's what your goal is, and it (if put in a strategic location) reminds you daily about what your goal is. Great. Now what? Wait?
I heard something about some guy named Santa, a lady called the Tooth Fairy, and some Fairy Godmother or some sort....
Ever since we've been kids, we've been led to believe that if we want something, we just wish for it, tell someone about it, and then magically, at the right time, it comes to us (I'm actually very happy my parents never introduced me to these mythical providers). And now, with the Strawberry Generation (look it up) and their sense of entitlement, it's even more so turning into a world of spoiled kids waiting for their piece of the pie. Don't let this be you. And if you realize this is you, stop being part of it. You're not doing anything to help society or yourself.
So you have this list of goals or wants. What's the next step? There needs to be an action that will bring you closer to getting what you want. In comes the Plan of Action. Draw/write out a plan. Even if it's on a napkin, the back of a coloring page for your 7 y/o niece, or whatever. This Plan of Action should be altered several times, as you will revise it to fit a realistic version of your life and efforts (and include any high-chanced obstacles), rather than your "head in the clouds" goal. You should have a total of 3 versions, a low (if everything fails, this should still happen), a middle (if things go like I planned realistically), and a high (if everything goes perfectly). It's kind of like college applications. You have a safety net, a "probably going to end up going to" school, and a "if I'm lucky and they for whatever reason pick me because Admissions wanted a charity case" school. Each one of these should have some sort of step by step and written out process, varying basically with quantifications of each step. Add up the steps and see where each path leads you. These are your low, middle, and high goals. The low one should feel pretty comfortable. The middle should feel pretty exciting. The high one should make you feel pretty uncomfortable and question your capabilities.
Now that you have a plan (which should have included a start and end date, and hopefully landmark dates in the middle), time to set it into action! Make all the preparations you need to allow your plan to go as smoothly as possible. It's like packing for a trip. Get all the things you need together, put them all where they need to go, and then go on your trip. Sometimes you'll need help along the way (know when it's a good situation to figure things out for yourself, but also when you should ask for outside help). You'll also find that your goals and plan will change as you're following it. This is normal and to be expected. Just go with the flow, and make adjustments. In the end, you'll have made much more progress towards your goal than if you had just done what you always did in the past (that, well, never worked, because otherwise you wouldn't have had the same goal again).