Stay On Track With Your 2013 Goals

Now that we’re in February already, how are you doing with the resolutions and goals you set for the new year?

If you’re slipping a little or not where you thought you’d be by now, you’re not alone. Many people dive into January motivated and focused, yet within a month or two, their progress begins to lag. Coincidentally, this is around the same time fitness centers start to slow down after the busy January rush.

So, how do you stay on track or find your momentum again?

Make commitments

First off, try shifting your thinking from New Year’s resolutions to making commitments instead. Commitments can be made at any time throughout the year but the biggest difference is that a resolution is a decision and commitments always involve action. Actions are the only guaranteed way to achieve your goals.

Write it down

Assuming you already know what your goals are, make sure they are in writing. This is the single most important action step to achieving your goals. When you put a goal in writing, you are making a clear commitment to it. It’s even better if you can share your goals with others to add an extra layer of accountability.

Gain insight

Recognize that insight precedes change. It’s worth it to take some time to evaluate your goals and your current progress.

If you did get off track or you’re not as far along as you would like, ask yourself what factors may have contributed.

- Were your goals set too high?
- Did you create too many and feel overwhelmed?
- Was the time frame unrealistic?
- Did you underestimate the requirements in time, energy, resources, finances, or support for keeping the commitment?
- Were you distracted by competing interests or with demands from family, friends, or work?

Perhaps you weren’t tracking your results or activities along the way. Or maybe you need to create goals that are easier to remember. Setting alarms and posting visual reminders are great ways to remind you of your action steps.

Eliminate the lack of time excuse

If one of your common excuses for not following through on your goals and commitments is a lack of time, remember that we always make the time for activities that are the most important to us. Sometimes people set a goal they think is most important and three weeks later, they realize they haven’t taken any of the action steps to achieve it. A lack of time often gets the blame, though in reality –– consciously or subconsciously –– achieving the goal wasn’t as important as the other activities for which we made the time.

One way to increase the probability of having the time for your action steps is to proactively schedule appointments and block out the time on your calendar. Usually, the optimal time to schedule action steps is first thing in the morning, but whenever you schedule your appointments, make sure the time works for you. Highlight the time on your calendar and protect it as you would any other important appointment, mindful that these action steps are how you will achieve your goal.

Reset commitments and map out specific action steps

Now that you’ve gained some insight, reset your commitment and identify clear action steps that will allow you to achieve your goal. Be sure to keep your new plan realistic and choose actions that will show results soon to keep you motivated.

Again, write it down. Break the action steps into very specific tasks you can do daily, or at least weekly. This is especially important if the commitment is new to you or it’s something you haven’t done in a while.

Track your progress and remember the prize

Tracking your achievements and activity steps often will help you maintain your commitments. Do this in a way that works for you. Some people prefer to create charts or graphs so they can visually see the progress along the way and this method works well for people wanting to lose weight or increase their income. Others simply list their daily achievements and check off the action steps accomplished.

When setting out to achieve a big goal, it’s motivating to visually remind yourself of the prize, or the end result. Creating a vision board or book provides inspiration each time you view it. Fill it with images that remind you of why you’ve chosen this goal and what you want when you achieve it –– a vacation, new clothing, a bigger house, or whatever you want. Add color, words, and anything else that will inspire you.

Keep this visual motivator somewhere where it will constantly remind you of the prize.

Set expectations

While on the path to achieving a goal, it’s important to manage the expectations of the other people in our lives so we don’t break our own commitments to please them. What they want, or what they are used to, may not be compatible with our new goals and action steps. Be proactive and communicate clearly what you are trying to do so they are aware. Set realistic expectations and response times that will allow you to stay on track.

Find an accountability partner

It’s also helpful to find an accountability partner, or partners, with whom to meet on a regular basis. Be sure to find someone you respect and who has your best interest at heart. If you can, seek out someone who has done what you are trying to do. If that’s not possible, at least find someone with a track record of success in business, sports, relationships, or anyone who has set and achieved big goals.

Look for the following qualities in your accountability partner:

- A willingness to dedicate some amount of time to helping you
- A capacity to challenge you and your beliefs, excuses, and outdated stories 
(Keep in mind there may be discomfort in changing your habits and developing new behaviors.)
- Honesty and the ability to communicate well

If you don’t know anyone, ask a friend if they do, or hire a professional coach or counselor.

Celebrate the milestones

Depending on the goal or commitment, it may take a long time to accomplish so be sure to celebrate your successes and milestones along the way. If you can do this daily, that’s very motivating; at least do it weekly. Your celebrations can be as simple as wearing an outfit you’ve been saving for special occasions or meeting a friend for coffee, lunch, or dinner. For significant milestones, perhaps treat yourself to a massage, a purchase, or a vacation.

If you continue to monitor your progress, evaluate your commitments often, and reward the successes along the way, you’ll eventually achieve your goal. When that happens, celebrate in a big way! You’ve earned it.

Best wishes to you on your path to success.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal
that commands your thoughts,

liberates your energy,

and inspires your hope.”

– Andrew Carnegie