By now you’ve decided how you want to feel this year, set your resolutions accordingly and put your all-important accountability team in place. Right?
Of course you have, you determined little minx. (And if you haven’t, you can learn about the five steps to get you there HERE.)
So now what?
Time to take action!
Sounds simple enough, I know. But if it really were so simple, why do most people fail to take meaningful steps toward meeting their resolutions by the time February rolls around?
Because change is SCARY.
Yup. Even welcome change can be enough to derail the most motivated goal-setter if the foundation for success isn’t solid. Happens to the best of us.
The good news is you can keep fear at bay by using these three strategies.
This may sound obvious, but you can’t do everything at once.
You just can’t.
I still think you’re smart and fabulous and capable of the amazing goals you've set, but you’ve got the same short 24 hours in the day as everyone else. And we both know you already have a lot on your plate.
Because you’ve got limited time--to say the least--you’re naturally only going to make time for the activities that are important to you. In other words, the stuff that drains you isn't going to make it to the top of your list unless someone else's priorities are driving your behavior (i.e., your boss's).
By all means, set those lofty goals. But do so in a way that doesn't prevent you from achieving them.
For example, I’ve set the following goals for myself:
- Meditate daily.
- Work out five days a week.
- Read one book per month.
- Maintain a detailed planner for my personal and business lives.
(Look, I’m a new mama with a baby girl; my goals aren’t mega sexy right now.)
In my earlier post on goal-setting, I shared how I’m building up to meditating daily by aiming for three days per week in the first quarter and increasing the number of days as the year progresses.
I applied this same “chunking” approach to all of my goals; HOWEVER, I won’t start exercising on a regular basis until the second quarter of the year.
I won’t start trying to finish a book in a month until this summer when my schedule will open up a bit.
And I won’t be able to track my highly detailed schedule until I’m done creating my personalized planner (I’m so excited to start using it in March!).
See what I did there?
I’ve staggered the start date of my goals so that I don’t get overwhelmed by too much change at once. Additionally, I’ve done so in a way that makes sense with my individual schedule (e.g., I have more time for reading in the summer).
Just because you want to do something this year doesn’t mean you have to start in January or not at all.
You get to decide when you start.
(Did I just blow your mind?)
2. Let Go of “Bad” Goals
So, let’s say you’ve set a goal to run a half marathon this year. If you haven’t selected a race, paid the registration fee, created a training plan, started training and declared your intention to your accountability team, it’s safe to say:
(a) You’re really not that serious about running a half marathon right now, and
(b) You're setting yourself up to not run one this year.
And you know what? THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY.
In fact, get that “bad” goal outta the way so you can focus on the goals that really are important to you right now.
Sometimes, a previous goal you set loses its appeal. Rather than force yourself to do something you’re not excited about, give yourself permission to set the goal aside. You can run that hypothetical race next year...or in three years. Just not now.
And in the meantime, you can take real steps toward meeting your other goals without feeling guilty about not meeting this one. Moving on!
3. Check In With Your Accountability Team
Since you've wisely chosen people who truly support you and want to see you succeed, your accountability team can be another reality check for your progress.
Share your struggles with them and get their perspective. You’re allowed to take or leave what they have to say, but more often than not, hearing an outside perspective can bring you loads of clarity.
If you're the only accountability system you've got (or the feedback you got from your accountability team just isn't resonating with you), it's time to get really honest with yourself.
- Why haven’t I taken that first (or next) step toward my goal?
- Am I afraid of failing and, therefore, paralyzed?
- Am I feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work required to meet my goal?
- Have I genuinely been slammed at work? Or derailed by an evil cold? Or some other completely legitimate reason?
The point of this exercise is to determine if you have indeed been thrown off course by something out of your control or if you’re throwing up your own roadblocks.
If it’s the former, simply adjust your plan of action and get back on track as soon as your circumstances allow. Onward and upward!
If it’s the latter, figure out if you want to prioritize this goal or make room for something that makes your heart beat a little faster. And if you decide to stick with this goal, re-work your action plan in a way that helps you feel less afraid, overwhelmed or whatever it is that’s keeping you from taking action.
These three strategies are designed keep you focused on goals that truly excite you. After all, these goals are yours.
You get to decide which ones are worthy of your precious time and energy.
How have these strategies helped you stay on track? Do you have any strategies of your own? Share in the comments so I can cheer you on!
This post first appeared on Ms. JD as part of my year-long column as a Writer in Residence, "The JD's Life Coach". Ms. JD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the success of women in law school and the legal profession.