Years ago, I gave up on New Year’s resolutions, as I would look back on the year and realize I didn’t achieve what I had “resolved” to do during the previous 12 months. I would recall what I had hoped to do only to feel shame for my failure. I would resolve and tell myself I just needed to “try harder” each year only to find myself in a hopeless spiral that I was bad and just not good enough. I would just keep the same resolutions by justifying my non-action and cross out the previous year and place the new year at the top of my list, having to pick myself up and recover from my resolutions became an annual event.
Resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do something.” No wonder I gave up on them. “A firm decision to do something.” Obviously, I was not strict enough with myself in “doing something.” Do something. That is so vague and obscure. My wife, Kerry, and I have joked for years after our daughters were born that we should have named them “Somebody, Nobody, and Everybody.” Can you imagine the madness? “Somebody, please pass the salt.” “Everybody, come over here.” “Nobody, get ready for bed.” “Would Somebody tell Nobody to stop hitting Everybody!” “Somebody, do something!” Crazy, isn’t it?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I might not be about resolutions, but I am all about setting goals. Goals are a great way to start the New Year. Goals help us succeed. This article is about ways I have found success in achieving them. I like to set my goals high. Now, I do not achieve 100 percent of my goals. On average, I achieve about 85 percent, but I have learned I would rather only achieve 85 percent of my goals being set high than achieving 100 percent of my goals that are set low.
Here are some things to consider when setting your goals.
Imagine it. See it.
As you may know, trying harder may not work for you. It doesn’t work for me either. Willpower is not the answer. What has worked for me is using my imagination to see a goal achieved even before I have written it down. Take time to think about and see yourself achieve the goals you are about to write down. This is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the created world. The late Earl Nightingale said in his recorded 1956 radio broadcast entitled, The Strangest Secret, “We become what we think about.” He believed only 5 percent of people actually achieve success in life by achieving financial independence. If we think in positive or negative terms, we will reap the same results. A person is what he/she thinks about all day long. Act as if it is real, and it will become real. Stop thinking and believing why you cannot and start thinking and believing…why not.
Make a Detailed List
Make a detailed list of your goals by writing them down or typing them up. Look at your goals for each part of your life. Write down goals you want to achieve in all areas of your life: personal, professional, financial, spiritual, physical, relational and recovery. These are just a few areas to consider. Now, take time to write out a narrative or story using your 5 senses (taste, touch, smell, sound and sight) about each large goal you want to achieve. Revisit and read this narrative out loud daily.
Make it Attainable/Bite Size
I tell my clients all the time, “You cannot eat a pizza in one bite.Cut up the pizza, take a piece, and then take a bite of that piece. You eat pizza just one bite at a time.” Now that you have a list, you need to break it down into attainable steps or objectives. If I want to complete 6 of the 12 recovery steps this year, I need to figure out how many steps per month, one step every two months. I then need to break it down weekly. Finally, I need to determine how much time I need to set aside each day to reach this goal, 30 minutes or 60 minutes. Do this with each goal. You want to lose 30 pounds this year? What steps do you need to take to make this goal attainable?
Accountability is critical in achieving a goal. Research has shown over and over that individuals who have accountability or a buddy do much better than individuals who do not. Accountability can look different in different situations. Speaking out and sharing your goals with friends and family are a great way to let others know what is going on. Encourage them to ask how you are doing each week or each month. Being self-employed, I have found it wise to set up my schedule in a way that forces me to stay accountable with my time. For example, have your place or work be separate than your place of leisure and play, keep the same weekly working schedule.
Make it Rewarding
Are the goals you have written down and want to achieve rewarding to you? They do not need to be rewarding to your spouse, children, parents or your boss. What are you passionate about in life? Life should be a fun adventure. You should be excited about getting up in the morning, but most get up only to dread the day ahead of them. You might want to consider doing the things you don’t enjoy first. For example, an hour of recovery work or 30 minutes of exercising. Then, reward yourself by doing the things you enjoy last. For example, watch your favorite TV program or go out with a friend. For some, prayer can be a very rewarding part of recovery. I believe it not only changes circumstances, but it changes you to fit the circumstances you are in. Prayer helps our hearts align with God’s heart. What are God’s goals for you this year? God’s goals are very rewarding, unlimited, life-giving and powerful.
Make a Deadline
Deadlines are critical in achieving goals. Why put off tomorrow what can be done right now? I am amazed how much productive time I can waste in a day. I do not believe we are as busy as we think we are; however, we are much more distracted by time wasters, such as TV, media and electronic devices than any generation before us. Rid your schedule of time wasters.
Speak and share your deadline for a goal with others. Reward yourself when you meet a deadline. Have a consequence, silly or serious, in place when you do not meet your deadline for a specific goal. Figure out if you are motivated by a reward stimulus being removed, such as your morning coffee, or if you are motivated by a pain stimulus being applied, such as having to pay a financial consequence.
Be intentional this holiday season. You are worth it!
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.