Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Seven Tips for Setting Realistic New Year’s Goals

              New Years Resolution image

7 Tips for Setting Realistic New Year’s Goals

Lana Dunn (

Happy New Year!

The start of the new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past and clarify the path forward.  These 7 tips will help you set realistic goals to make 2016 your most productive, successful and enjoyable year yet!
  1. Build on PAST SUCCESSES – A great way to start setting goals for the new year is to take the time to look backwards first. Review where you have come from.  Consider what worked last year; think about what goals you are carrying over; identify what didn’t work and the lessons you gained from those experiences.  Goals that are integrated into the bigger picture of your life have more meaning than “one offs”.
  1. Consider having a THEME for the year – Ask yourself, what is the foundation upon which my success this year will be built? Is it improved health?  Reaching a specific business target?  Dedicating more time to family?  Committing to a social cause?  Perhaps you have a personal or professional trait or skill that will help to elevate your life and your work to the next level.  Think of things likeintention or patience, decluttering or presence.  Those concepts can become your overarching theme, acting as the base upon which you can build your best year.
  1. Think QUALITY not QUANTITY – Defining three or four high quality goals offers you the chance to focus your energy, resources and intention in more specific ways. Using your theme as the launching pad, a handful of carefully constructed goals can act as the fuel to move you forward.  Having fewer but meaningful goals allows you to focus your attention.  Having too many serves only to dilute the time you have to dedicate to each one.
  1. Create BENCHMARKS – How will you know you are remaining on track? What are the crucial milestones for your goals?  When and how will you check in with yourself?  Like any work worth doing, you need to stay on top of the progress being made, and course correct as necessary.  Many goals are left by the side of the road due to inattention.  Keep your goals alive and measure your progress against your defined criteria.  It not only helps ensure you are staying true to the course, but also acts as a motivator to keep you on track.
  1. Remind yourself this is a MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT! – Be patient; Rome wasn’t built in a day. The journey towards achievement of your goals is rich with learnings; the benefits don’t only show up once the goal is reached.  Make note of lessons you learn, and incorporate them into your goals.  If your goals include breaking an old or developing a new habit or pattern of behaving, remember it takes time.  Developing a new habit requires consistent practice over many weeks (some say 21 days, other 30, still others argue for 45!).  If your goal is worth your time and attention, it is most certainly worth investing the time to see it come to fruition.
  1. Be willing to be FLEXIBLE – Do your goals need tweaking as you progress? Have circumstances changed?  Is new information available that suggests a different course of action?  Nothing is more frustrating than to spend your time and energy doing something well that never should have been done in the first place.  Stay intentional and purposeful as the weeks and months pass.
  1. Be SMART – The concept of setting “SMART” goals was first introduced in 1981. Though many authors have modified some of the letters, the original concept remains relevant today.   Ensuring your goals are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic andTimely has been shown to increase the likelihood of their successful achievement.     
I read a great quote about goal setting some time ago that resonated with me, and always helps me stay on track:
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.
A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.
A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”  

There is little magic involved in goal setting and goal achievement.  Following the tips outlined above and then doing the work will provide you with the opportunity to move through 2016 with a purpose, and allow you to make significant growth in your life and work in a short time.

Lana Dunn, M.Ed., R. Psych.
Trainer, Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute

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