“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~ Jimmy Dean
For most of us, January 1 is like a clean slate, an opportunity to start over, and permission to try again. Oprah Winfrey says it best, “Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right.” But as I wrote in last year’s blog, where we shoot ourselves in the foot is by making resolutions instead of goals.
Resolutions are determined thoughts that weaken over the months. They lose their freshness. Then life takes over and chokes our good intentions for the remainder of the year and our gasping resolutions hold on to enough life to make us feel guilty because we have failed—again.
Goals are the groundwork to a plan. They give structure and support. How fast or slow the plan works doesn’t change the goal. We just keep moving toward it, even if it isn’t accomplished in a year.
What makes a strong goal? Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Goals should be purposeful. Think them through, design a step-by-step plan and follow that plan. If we should stumble along the way, that doesn’t change the goal. We get up, dust ourselves off and keep moving forward.
- Goals should be realistic. In 2010 when I set my goal to lose weight, I wanted to lose 50 pounds in three months, but that wasn’t going to happen and I knew it. Actually, it took me a year to lose 30. The most important thing I had to change was my mind and realize this goal could not be a temporary practice until I lost my excess weight. It was something I had to do for the rest of my earthly life! This year I have set my goal to exercise in order to strengthen my body and make me more flexible. I’m also going to exercise my mind.
- Goals should be multidimensional. We need to have “vision” for what these goals will accomplish. When I set my goal to lose weight, I not only wanted to look better, I also wanted to feel better. I wanted to have more stamina and be able to keep up with my blossoming career as a writer and speaker. As I just mentioned, 2012 will be a year to exercise my body through aerobics and weight training, exercise my mind by reading and working some sort of word or number puzzle, and exercise my spirit by meditation. We are all three-part beings. Why not take care of our whole self?
- Goals should dream big! I know I said to be realistic, and when it comes to something that leans heavily on our personal responsibility, we should be reasonable with ourselves. But, I also believe we should “dream” big and see where life takes us. Imagine, ask “What if?” take risks. Have a big goal in your heart’s pocket. You never know where it will lead you! As C.S. Lewis says, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” And remember, you do not have a 12-month time limit. Goals are set in place and will remain until you reach them.
I’m sure there are more things that could be added to this list and I’d like to hear from your thoughts.
I like to write down my goals. There is just something about writing them down that really makes a difference. I usually begin my year with writing a “workable” list of 5 things I’d like to accomplish and one “dream big” goal. This year I want to:
- Be flexible enough to do the splits. (I was a gymnast in my younger days)
- Finish the rewrite of my novel (This was last year’s goal. However, once I started it has turned out to be an entirely different story. So, you see, it is taking longer but that is okay. I’m moving forward.
- Write a devotional book
- Increase my speaking and workshop engagements on the East and West coasts.
- Go to Europe
And my BIG DREAM, to have my novel made into a movie.
What about you? Do you have any goals to start in 2012? Notice I say start. They may not be finished in 2013. That is the beauty of goals. They are there until we cross the finish line, whatever the year. How we run the race—fast and determined, slow and steady, or undisciplined and sporadic— is up to us.
May you have a successful and fruitful 2012!