We don’t need to wait until January to set goals. We can start at any time. The trick is to make the commitment to change. That is what it is all about. Goals set us up to change. But it is turning those goals into action that determines if you really have the mind set to make them happen. Here are five strategies ending with a commitment to make them happen. They are not hard goals but they will effect real change in the way you go about your work and your life. If they are a fit for you seize the opportunity to make them happen because your personal growth and development matter.
Strategy #1: Set Achievable Personal and Work Goals
When people set goals conventional research shows they live longer. However we should write these goals in a way that shows action and measurement. Action means we will do something to make it happen. Measurement allows us to track progress along the way. Be SMART, when you write them. Be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable. If goals are not SMART they usually will fall into the category of a wish list.
Let's take a couple of examples. At work you can write something like, "Complete the policy on the wellness program." A laudable goal, but not fully measurable or trackable. There is no timeline for completion, so you can say, "I'll get to it someday." And, behold it will be completed sometime. Maybe! A great incentive to procrastinate, don't you think?
If your goal is relevant to your work, you should ask: "How does it relate to my work? What priority does it have?" And if it isn't relevant then ask, "Why am I doing it?" If it is relevant then ask, "How important is it? Is it necessary and urgent? Is it urgent and necessary? Is it necessary but not urgent? Or, is it urgent but not necessary at all?"
Once you have answered these questions you can write a SMART goal such as: "I will complete a draft policy statement on wellness and present my leadership team for approval by September 30, 20XX."
Then you can break it down into achievable monthly tasks, such as:
We can use the same goal setting strategy for our personal life as well. Rather than saying "I'm going to lose weight this year," be more specific and write down; "I'm going to lose 30 pounds/kilos by June 31, 20XX. Then set out the tasks to achieve that goal.
When we know where we are going, ambiguity is reduced, progress can be measured, and our comfort level is heightened. In the end our stress level is reduced.
This month focus on writing five SMART goals that you can action.
Strategy #2: Accept The Givens
Often our anxiety level increases because we worry about things outside of our control. Worry doesn't accomplish anything except personal grief, and often grief for others. Here are a few for instances: we can't control time, but we can control what we do with it; we can't control the weather, but we can control how we plan for poor weather; we can't control how people will relate to us, but we can control how we relate to others.
We will have less anxiety if we control those things that are in our control and accept those things that are outside of our control.
This month focus on controlling only those things in your control.
Strategy #3: Take Energy Breaks
One of the hard lessons busy people learn is that their energy drains when they don't fuel up. They skip meals or skimp on meals, gobble down food while working the phone or their computer and eat junk food rather than nutritious meals. I knew all about eating well but I didn't follow my own advice. The result - quadruple heart by-pass surgery and that wasn't pretty for me or my family.
Busy people also learn that when they are at their computer long hours without ergonomic seating or when the monitor is too close, they experience strain and pain from their eyes, backs, shoulders and wrists.
Take heed when these things happen your body is shouting, "Take a break!"
Try these suggestions this month:
Strategy #4: Exercise Regularly
Our body is built to move, so move it regularly. We can be quite sedentary when we are working at our desk. Often, we are either standing or sitting for long periods. Overtime this takes its toll on our body and we find fat rolls creeping around our waist, back-end, and other places too numerous to mention. The antidote to this is exercise.
Get up from your chair and walk around, take a ten- minute walk in the morning, over the noon hour and in the evening. Find a buddy and go for a run. Take the stairs. If sitting, stand up and read or walk about while you read. Join a gym, seek a lifestyle coach or trainer. Do something, just don't sit and stand for hours on end.
Do one or two of these activities daily and you will find you have more energy. Make a commitment to exercise this month.
Strategy #5. Think Positively
Thinking positively means approaching challenges with a positive outlook. It doesn't necessarily mean avoiding things that make us feel uncomfortable or ignoring negative situations. Instead, it means approaching those situations in a positive light, or making the best of a bad situation. We can improve our ability to think positively by affirming or actuating the positive for ourselves and others. Rather than thinking "I can't do this," say, "I can do this!" Rather than thinking, "I can't get along with this person," think about the positive aspects of the person and affirm those within your mind's eye; rather than thinking, "This place is a lousy place to work," think about, "What I can do to make it a better place to work." Thinking positively is not Pollyanna, pie in the sky thinking. It is thinking that is realistic but tempered with a positive approach to life rather than a negative one.
Thinking positively works. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can lead to a longer life span, less stress, lower rates of depression, increased resistance to the common cold, better coping skills, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, increased physical wellbeing and overall better psychological health.
If your approach to life is more on the negative side, and you would like to change it take heart because positive thinking can be learned. In essence you are learning a new habit and as is the case of any change in habit you will need to develop habit changing strategies. In this case,
Turning goals into actions is not hard. Committing to goals and actions is the hard part. One way to ensure you are committing to your goals and actions is to write them down and place them in front of you as a daily reminder. Another way is to ensure that they are front and center in your daily calendar. That way they will remind you to work on them. Changing a habit takes a bit of time and some of us are more stubborn than others. If you are like that a stronger commitment and reminder are necessary. Turn to someone you trust who can partner with you and keep you accountable until you have ingrained the new habit.
Thank you for reading. Keep well. Stay safe. And, continue becoming the best version of yourself.