Beyond New Year's Resolutions: How to Set and Get The Goals that Give You a Life You Love

Over half of Americans will set a New Years resolution to do one of two things, or in some cases both. 

Get healthy and make more money.

Ironic, or maybe not, that this comes right after the holiday season where we do all kinds of things to the contrary like cut back on sleep, eat an over abundance of unhealthy foods and overspend on things we don't even really need.

But most of the people who send out these wishful thoughts into the universe will not come close to actually achieving these goals.  That's because few are actually setting goals. 

That's right, just thinking about what you want to have happen is not setting a goal.  A goal should be SMART.  That means your first step in achieving your goal is making sure you're setting one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and bound by time.  Just losing weight means nothing if you don't define how much you want to lose, how and by when.  Improving your finances could mean anything from paying off a credit card sometime in the future to spending less money on eating out each week. Setting your goal begins by being clear about what you want to do and why. The following steps will help you set better goals this year and more importantly, achieve them.

Once you know what you want to do, the next step is to send some positive energy toward your goals. Years ago I wouldn't have even made this a step, but I've found that there is great power in the mind and what we focus on tends to grow.  So spending some time focusing, positively, on the goal you set for yourself really does have an impact on your ability to achieve your desired results.  From celebrities to highly successful entrepreneurs, many of the top goal achievers of our time swear by the positive benefits of giving your mind a place to focus. Because we can be inundated with negativity from co-workers, family members and don't forget our social media, spending some time in a brief meditation can do wonders for your mood and your mental clarity.  Try crafting a mantra or even a simple affirmation that connects with your personal goal, like "I am financially secure" or "my body is strong and whole". Say it out loud. Even look yourself in the mirror. Spending even a few minutes repeating that to yourself can improve your mood or even give you more motivation to keep pushing toward your goal.

Another wonderful idea is to use visual reminders as boosters.  Being able to clearly see your goal can help motivate you and keep you focused on your game plan. As a coach, I often have my clients use a journal to help guide their thoughts as they plan for a behavior change.  Another tool is a vision board which is a very creative way of making your thoughts into living art. Have you ever created a vision board?  It can be hard to believe but a few pieces of magazines and some glue can go a long way to helping you live your best life.  The visual reminder can boost your motivation and give you an anchor to hold onto in moments when you're feeling less successful or if you hit a roadblock.

Find a role model. Look to those who are on the same path as you for inspiration. Perhaps this is a CEO of the company; perhaps this is your father. Try to immerse yourself in their life and ask questions. Their positive energy may just rub off on you. And, if not, at least you are learning from the experts how to get where you want to go.

Lastly, reward yourself along the way.  Be happy with your progress, no matter how small. My niece, who lost over half her body weight, went to a doctor who told her to celebrate the non-scale victories that come with weight loss, even when the scale isn't moving.  For her, those have included shopping at regular stores and fastening her seatbelt.  Even when the number she's looking for isn't there she's kept herself motivated by looking at all she's gained, while she was losing.  Whether your goal will take you twenty days or twenty years doesn’t matter- the important thing is that you are doing it. You are getting there. To keep yourself motivated every step of the way, you need to reward yourself with small treats. Be proud of how far you have come and prepare for the journey ahead.

What goals have you set for the new year? Share a comment so we can cheer you on.