Making a life change is more than saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “Finish that novel!” The great news is that it’s easier than you think. It simply takes a subtle shift in mindset and a few keys to successful goal-setting.
Set goals from a Life Paragraph. Years ago friends gave us a plant for a hospitality gift. Determined to let this one live, I watered it diligently for two weeks until one day I looked at the plant closely and experienced an epiphany: it was a fake plant. Oh, yeah. Resolutions are like watering a fake plant—they aren’t real. Successful goals come from connection—choosing the ideal outcome you want first, then using goals as vehicles to get there. Try creating a Life Paragraph. It’s so easy, but powerful. Life coaching guru Brian Tracy has said, “The establishment of a clear, central purpose or goal in life is the starting point of all success.” Once you have a clear paragraph of what you want from life, goals are easier to choose and achieve.
To create a Life Paragraph, brainstorm buzz words to describe your ideal life in three categories: Self, Relationships, and Life Skills. For example, in Self you might have, “positive, spiritually centered, emotionally healthy, fit,” etc. After brainstorming all three areas, combine and edit them to create one juicy paragraph about six to eight sentences long to describe your ideal life. Have fun with this! Tweak and change until you feel it best describes what you’ll be working toward.
Real goals for Real People. Good goals are specific and make you stretch, but not feel overwhelmed or like downing a cheesecake. I’ve coached women for ten years and my secret to their success is one goal a week. That’s it. Choose wisely and then go to it. And remember Hyrum Smith wisely says to include the following in writing your goal: make it realistic, timely, specific, measurable, and action-oriented. Translation: “I will write 3,000 words this week during (3) one-hour sessions from 9 to 10 p.m.” Or, “I will do a FUN workout three times this week for 20 minutes, varying cardio and weights.” Voila.
As you set goals, be flexible for something better. My writing goal last year was to finish a novel I’d worked on for a year. But, another plot idea fell into my mind with accompanying whole scenes. I focused on and finished the new novel toot-sweet. And, I returned to the original novel refreshed and better prepared.
You can’t believe what you can achieve by combining your Life Paragraph with a well-chosen goal—just one—each week. I’ve been able to write and publish books, be a public speaker, be a stellar mother to six children (that’s up for debate), teach my children life skills, and run our home generally well (except weeks before, during, or after holidays), and enjoy it all (most of the time). I’m not special or tremendously talented. It’s by small and simple things that great things come to pass, like keeping the kitchen counter clear. So give this a try. If you need a little boost consider my “Take the 8-week Challenge!” You can enter at www.8basics.com—it’s free with motivational blogs and podcasts to help you stay focused.
Reward Yourself and Keep Going. After setting a goal, choose a reward and use it! One woman paid herself five dollars for each work out then put that money toward a new outfit. Go girl! Rewards help change your neuroassociation to goal-setting—a fancy word for salivating Pavlovian style to set and achieve a goal, all because of the promise of an hour-long nap. That’s my kind of reward. Whatever you choose—attend a writing conference, buy a writing book—use it to keep yourself focused and committed.
So create that Life Paragraph, choose a connected goal that makes you excited to start, and reward your efforts along the way. This is your year to create fabulous change, so go get it!
A member of Authors Incognito, Connie Sokol is a mother of six—expecting her seventh—and a presenter, former TV and radio host, and author of several books, including Faithful, Fit & Fabulous. For tips, columns, and books, visit www.8basics.com.