It’s a new year, and that usually means setting new goals for yourself. But this isn’t just any new year. Surviving 2020 was in itself a huge accomplishment. You should give yourself a pat on the back for doing just that.
Those of us who are or will be fortunate enough to have grandchildren will tell them how we survived the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 — even though we almost lost everything.
You will also be able to share with them how, in 2021, you began to open up new dreams and goals for yourself and how you made a path to reach them.
The hardest part of getting to the next level in life is figuring out what to do and setting, sustaining and achieving your goal. Here is a simple, tried-and-true goal achievement process that is based on psychological research done at a number of universities. It works best if you write everything down.
1. Describe your goal in as much detail as possible. What is your target date for reaching your goal? Remember to keep it reasonable; you may not be able to do anything for another few months so don’t set yourself up for frustration.
2.When will you begin? The answer is right now, because the thought process has begun, but there are other first steps. Make a timeline for those.
3. Ask yourself, “What are the personal benefits you will receive from achieving this goal?” Things like health, wealth, happiness, power, saving the world or feeling love all count. Write them down.
4. Now ask yourself what benefits others can derive from the achievement of this (your) goal? If what you do benefits no one but yourself, then you won’t get as much out of it, and you also won’t find as much support along the way. Modify your goal, if needed, to bring benefits to others.
5. Make a list of possible obstacles. Anything from money to time — write down as many obstacles as you can think of. You may want to give up after this part of the process, or redirect, but trust me this is a good thing. We would have responded very differently if we had known the truth about COVID-19 when it first appeared.
6. Now list some provable solutions to overcoming those potential obstacles. If you know what the problems are, this is a good thing, because you can usually figure out how to overcome them.
7. What action steps do you need to take to reach your goal? Break your tasks into bite-sized chunks that you can accomplish on your own. Or if you need help from someone else, write down exactly what needs to happen and what resources you will require. Start with the big picture and just start filling in the blank spaces with what you think you might need to do to accomplish your goal.
8. Now create a timeline for taking each of those action steps. These are estimates, so give yourself a little room and plan for temporary setbacks and contingencies.
9. Make the commitment to achieving your goal, put all of your answers in writing, sign at the bottom of the list, and look at your goal progress every day. It will help you reach the goal you desire.
10. Don’t keep it a secret, but don’t brag. Tell other people and get your loved ones involved. The more support you have, the greater your motivation and chance of success.
Yes, it’s short and sweet and extremely doable if you follow the process. I have all of this on a one-page worksheet available on my website for free, because if you reach your goals, I have achieved mine.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, is an award-winning therapist and writer. He is a columnist, blogger and the author of seven books, including the newly released “Visualization For Success —75 Psychological Empowerment Exercises To Get You What You Want In Life.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.