January 7, 2015

Goal Setting for 2015-- How I Plan to Make Realistic, Obtainable Goals

At the beginning of each and every year, I like most people, plan out some lofty goals that I hope to achieve. And like many other people, I tend to set myself up for failure because many of my goals are:
  • Unattainable
  • Unspecific
  • Unreasonable
  • Unrealistic

By the end of the year, I look back on the goals I set for myself with disdain because they either weren’t accomplished or only partially accomplished. Then comes the pangs of guilt and feelings of failure that discourages many of us, which can lead to either not setting new goals or shirking off goal setting altogether.

This year, it is going to be different. 

I have done quite a bit of reading about setting goals in a way that they are achievable and not so overwhelming, which I truly believe is the downfall many of us have to deal with each and every year. 

Here’s the current problem with setting goals for the new year:

Come January 1st, we set these enormous goals for ourselves. It is a season of refreshment and starting anew.  Just like me, you have probably sat down and made a year-long to-do list of things you want to accomplish during the year. Then, like me, you likely put that list in a place where you can’t see it every day. Or maybe you’ve lost it in a pile of paper clutter that is piling up on your desk. 

By the middle of the year, that list re-emerges from the abyss from whence it came and you realize that you have accomplished absolutely nothing that you had hoped. At that point, you recommit yourself to your list of goals and vow that you will accomplish every single one in six months instead of twelve. You now feel like superwoman.

Only, you realize that there are some things you just can’t do in that short amount of time. 

Like lose 80 pounds.

Or earn an extra $50,000 this year.

Or write the next great American novel.

Or meet and marry the person of your dreams.

Then you toss your list of goals aside and forget about them again until the end of the year. You begin to feel badly that you did nothing (or very little) to meet those goals you set for yourself a year ago. Then the vicious cycle begins all over again. 

This is me. Every single year. I make too many big goals that are unspecific and unattainable in my current season of life. 

So this year, I am re-thinking my goal setting strategy and giving myself some grace to achieve goals that are realistic for me.

That is the key—to set goals that are:

  • Attainable
  • Specific
  • Reasonable
  • Realistic

To set goals that are achievable for you, it is important for you to realize that while you may have big dreams for your life, right now may not be the best time to set short term goals to make those dreams a reality. It will only set you up for failure and disappointment. 

If you are a mother to young children, right now may not be the time to set that goal to travel the world. 

If you have recently graduated from college, this may not be the time to set a goal of getting that executive vice president position at your company. 

Reaching for huge goals like these in one year, during a time in your life when those dreams are not realistic is the fastest way to set yourself up for disappointment when you can’t achieve them. 

Make no mistake—I am not in any way discouraging you from dreaming big or making long-term goals. I set long-term goals and have dreams for myself as well, and I will be talking about that process in a different post. I realize that some people can achieve these big dreams during a busy time in their life. Hard work, sacrifice, and dedication can get anyone just about anywhere they want to be. 

 I am simply speaking about short-term goals that many of us set for the new year. I am all about dreaming big dreams and planning for the future. My goal in this post is to help you realize where you are in your life right now and set yourself up to make some goals that are achievable in your current season of life. 

I’ll give you an example in myself. In my current season of life, I am a stay-at-home mother of three young children. Right now, it is not possible for me to set a goal to vacation four times this year. It is also not a great time to make any major home improvements because we are a single-income family who is focusing our budgeting on more pressing areas of our lives. This does not mean that I do not dream about doing these things eventually—just not right now.

If I had made those my goals for this year, I would have been sorely disappointed by the end of this year because I would not have accomplished my goals, setting off those feelings of guilt and failure. 

This is why it is so imperative that you set your annual goals with your current lifestyle in mind. 

Please come back tomorrow for more on my specific goals for the year, and how I set them up in a way that is achievable and attainable for me.

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