Get excited about 2012!
Heading into the last weekend of 2011 and the first of 2012, we will all take a break from talking about the weather in order to ask each other “got your New Year’s resolutions lined up?” Most people are happy to tell you that they don’t make any resolutions because they cannot keep them. I avoid resolutions, but I do set strong personal, business and financial goals each year.
The exercise of setting meaningful goals is only exciting and successful if you devote the proper amount of time to doing it right. A goal is an important accomplishment and is absolutely always achievable if you build in several incremental steps to getting to your end result. For example, four years ago when I set the goal to get a motorcycle there were 10 important steps (or sub-goals) that each led me closer to owning and riding my own bike. If I had set a major goal without the minor steps, I would still be wishing I had a motorbike! I needed to build in such factors as: where to find the money; what kind of bike would be best for me; when to order the bike to meet my timeline; how to learn to ride; how to earn a M driver’s license. Set specific timelines for each step, but be flexible when faced with the realities (but don’t delay your timelines out of procrastination or fear).
Not all my steps happened in the order I had them listed. There will be some things beyond your control in terms of sequence, but you will also be surprised at what steps can be achieved earlier than expected simply because you are conscious of a step and you recognize an opportunity to knock it off the list. I thought that I would be fully licensed before my bike arrived, but I spent the first season riding on just a learner’s and completed my road test a full year after getting my bike! The most important factor in accomplishing the goal I set was checking back to my list often. Each month I would see what steps were still remaining and figure out what I was able to do next to get one crossed off the list.
Another important motivator in achieving the steps to your goal is to tell people your intentions. My big mouth can be a gift and a curse because I enthusiastically tell people what I am going to do and then I feel obligated to follow through (because in a small town, you know very well people will ask you how that crazy pipe dream is coming along!) More than once I have heard myself saying “yes, I can do that” only to walk away wondering “what was I thinking?” But I have always followed through and proven to myself and others that I can achieve great goals with careful planning.
There will be goals you want to set that will scare you almost into mental paralysis – set them anyway. Each year when I look back at the goals I had set, I realize that I over-achieved some of them greatly (funny when I think of how nervous I was setting them). Last year when I arrived back from a solo trip to California and back, I got off the bike and walked up to the house thinking “I can’t believe I just rode to Cali and back by myself”. After the first year of purposeful goal-setting, I had the confidence to set more (and more aggressive) goals. Abraham Lincoln once said “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” When you sit down to write some goals for 2012, contemplate what you think your life should look like and then make the goals match the vision. It will happen for you almost automatically when you begin crossing off the accomplished steps and a year later you will look back and say “is that all there is to it?” Good luck. Have fun.