There is something about the start of a new year that makes people feel like they have a fresh start, a new chapter to make some big changes in their life. Although the intention is admirable, too many times a long list of New Year’s resolutions is developed that is just not feasible and falls to the wayside by February.
It’s normal to want to see results quickly and feel good about your accomplishments, but when goals are just a little too far out of reach, it’s easy to start getting stressed and lose patience. Learning how to set up a list of goals that require effort and dedication but are feasible will enable you to stick to your goals and achieve what you set out to.
Step 1: Time to Brainstorm Ideas
Whenever you have a solid chunk of time, sit down in a quiet space with two pieces of paper and something to write with. This is the moment for you to reflect on your life and your progress in treatment or recovery over the past year.
Ask yourself: are you happy with where you’re at? What will you like to have accomplished by the end of next year? How will those accomplishments set you up for the next phase of your life?
Use these questions to start creating an outline of short- and long-term goals that you would like to accomplish. Use this brainstorm session to think up with the most ambitious dreams and desires you have, to the most insignificant and boring. Try to capture a range of possibilities. Don’t limit your options at this stage.
Step 2: Time to Outline in Detail & Narrow Down
Now that you have a long list of things you want to do, it’s time to reflect on each of these points and ask yourself some thought-provoking questions. For each goal, ask yourself:
- Why do I want to do this?
- How do I accomplish this?
- How will I know I’m making progress?
- When should I start seeing results?
- How will I address obstacles?
Once you start this process, you may find yourself needing to eliminate some goals, either because they are insignificant or too lofty. This step is critical; you want to avoid overburdening yourself with too many goals as it can cause you to spread your time, energy, and emotional resources thin.
Applying the Five Questions to “Getting in Shape”
Imagine one of your goals is to get into shape. You want to do this to feel more energized and improve cardiovascular health. To accomplish this, you will need to plan out when and how often you will exercise and determine which types of healthy foods to incorporate into your diet.
You will know you are making progress when you can run for thirty minutes straight and complete more tasks throughout the day without feeling tired. You decide you should start seeing results by June. An obstacle you foresee is being unable to start out running for thirty minutes, so you address this by deciding to start out at ten minutes and incrementally increasing the time over the next six months to thirty.
Step 3: Refine & Be Fluid to in the Face of Challenges
Now that you have a list of goals that have clear objectives and outcomes, it’s time to refine them if needed and re-write them neatly on the second sheet of paper. Are you happy with the goals you’ve come up with? Can any be eliminated or expanded into further detail? The handful of goals that you end up with should be practical but inspiring.
An important thing to imagine at this point is the potential for your goals to not materialize as planned. If you are well into working towards a goal but find that it’s not working out as planned, you may need to revisit your outline and determine if there is a way you can adjust a particular goal. This is called Plan B.
For example, maybe running is not your thing and you’re ready to give up. You can try other types of exercise to see what works out for you, which is totally fine. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. When set plans don’t work out, being fluid and open to change will help you reorient yourself as life unfolds. This is a sign of resilience, a critical skill in life and in recovery.
Step 4: Take Action on Your New Year’s Resolutions
All you need to do now to conquer your New Year’s Resolutions is take action. Post your outline somewhere in your home where you will make eye contact with it every day, reminding you of what you’ve made a commitment to and why. A helpful tip to keep you motivated and accountable is to track your weekly progress. How did you feel during and after you attempted that beginner kickboxing class? Do you feel yourself getting stronger?
By following these tips, you will begin to reap the benefits of your goals and discover that you really can do anything you put your mind and heart to.
The New Year is akin to a new chapter, the perfect time to draft big dreams that’ll surely improve one’s life. However, it is often the case that these ambitious goals are not thought through in careful detail and made flexible enough to respond to the ups and downs of life. By brainstorming, outlining objectives and outcomes, and being fluid in the face of challenges, you can accomplish your goals this New Year. Sober Life is a treatment center for addiction and mental health conditions conveniently located in downtown San Diego. In addition to being a treatment facility, we are a community of diverse clinical staff and alumni who have unique experiences dealing with addiction and mental health. Our goal is to provide care that helps clients build resilience so they can effectively manage their condition for years to come. We truly believe that the strength is in you. Call us today for more information on our programs: (619) 542-9542.