Related: My 12 goals for 2012
Alright, ladies and gents, 2012 is upon us in just a few days, and I'm working on my final list of 12 goals for 2012. I made some last-minute goals/resolutions last year, but didn't really put too much time or effort into the making of them, and as a result sort of forgot all about them and they mostly didn't get done. So this year my very first resolution of all was to make a thoughtful, realistic list of goals to achieve in 2012. COMING SOON!
Anyways, going back even further to 2010 goals, I kind of didn't 100% succeed on my 30 While 30 list, mostly because I Met a Boy and got sidetracked (worth it!), but I took a look back at that 2010 list and realize that I've in fact accomplished roughly 66% of it in the past two years, and that's pretty good. What did I not do?
-Take a skiing class
-Learn to change a bike tire
-Do an overnight solo camping trip
-Go to the top of the Washington Monument
-Do yoga every day
-Get an article published
-Blog twice a week
-Find a signature scent
-Visit Glacier National Park
-See one concert a month
But what DID I do? All the rest of the goals, including pay off my student loans, go to the Caribbean, volunteer, be more financially responsible, read two books a month, get certified in CPR, learn to pitch a tent, etc etc and lots more. Not too shabby! That's 20ish goals successfully stuck to, in a 24-month period rather than the original 12-month period, but still.
What helped me out? Well, let me tell you. These are tactics I'm employing for my 2012 goals, and I've found them enormously useful. Hopefully you will too.
1. Start resolution brainstorming early and thoughtfully
Don't just make resolutions or goals for the sake of it being December 31st. And definitely don't make a list in one hour or under. Come December 1st, if possible, take stock of your past year. What was good, what was bad? What did you wish you did more of, where did you succeed? I do lots of mindless, aimless, wandering thinking about this stuff (usually on long runs or during meditation) but I think lots of random journaling or walks or drinking alone over several beers or wherever you think best would help you suss this out over a period of a few weeks. When you've done lots of musing on the topic, the goals/resolutions normally come to you pretty effortlessly. Write down your goal list; sleep on it; edit and rewrite it a day or two after; sleep on it; do one more final list and you'll have a pretty solid list of considered goals that are meaningful and important to you. If you haven't made resolutions yet, don't worry about January 1. Make your goals/resolutions start February 1 instead.
2. Be specific
The tip almost every resolution tip list includes. It's really important, though. You will never achieve vague goals, simply by the fact that they're not defined in any way, so you have nothing to aim for. Be Happier? Be Healthier? Those are bullshit goals (no offense). Try this: Lose 10 pounds. Train for a race (even better, pick out the race you want to train for ahead of time). Go to the gym 3 times a week. (Mightygirl.com has a really nice, measured approach to exercising more, btw.)
Don't say "be more financially responsible" -- I did that in 2010 and it sort of worked, but I would have been better off saying, I will save $xxx by the end of 2011, or I will meet with a financial advisor. Want to keep in better touch with friends? For the love of god, don't make your resolution "I will keep in better touch with friends." Say something like, "I will place one phone call a week to an old friend" or "I will create a standing lunch date with X friend once a week." Get as granular as possible. Think broadly, of course - but create resolutions specifically. The specific resolutions will get you to that broader end goal much more easily.
3. Be realistic
If you've had Quit Smoking on your resolution list for 4 years running and it's never happened, you're going to need a new resolution. How about something like, I will cut my cigarette intake by 2/3 by July, or I will go see a health professional about ways to help me quit smoking? Same for something like losing weight or being healthier. If you haven't ever lost the weight, but it's been on your list for years, try a different, more realistic goal -- I will sign up for a personal trainer for 3 months. I will exercise 30 minutes 3 times a week. Etc etc. This is a bit the same as the Be Specific tip, but still a good way of thinking about goals, I find.
4. Write down your goals
It doesn't matter if you do it in a public place or a private journal, for some reason, this really helps. Take it a step further: place that written list in a very visible place where you'll see it at least once a day. I did this with my 30 while 30 goals, broken up by quarter. I printed out the several ongoing goals per every three months (ie, read two books a month, so read 6 books in this quarter), plus the 5 main one-time goals I wanted to hit that quarter, and stuck it on my bathroom mirror. Oh, though, the embarrassment when I forgot to hid that list the first time Zach ever came to my apartment and he came out of the bathroom and was like, uh, what is that list all about that also includes the bullet points "Go on more dates" AND THEN I DIED.
5. Create a plan
Immediately after settling on your resolutions, tackle them like they are work projects - because, uh, they sort of are - and create a full fledged plan for how you're going to do them. They're not going to magically happen, after all. One of my goals in 2010 was to get certified in CPR, and as soon as I'd settled on that goal, I researched CPR classes and signed up for one in February that fit my schedule. This year, my biggest goal is qualifying for the Boston Marathon, so I've already signed up for a race and created a training calendar. Volunteering is one of your resolutions? Research now, and identify your top 3 fits for where you want to volunteer, taking into account your interests, location, and schedule (I can tell you now that no matter how bad you want to volunteer somewhere, if they're located 20 miles from your house and only have volunteer opportunities like, Wednesday at 11am, it's not gonna work out).
Seriously, put stuff like google calendar reminders in there about your resolutions. Plan. It. Out.
6. Visual reminders
This is most helpful for me in my goals. In addition to printing out my goal list and looking at it every day, I incorporate goals into my daily computer routine (the place where I spend the most time, dur). This is how I do it:
I sign up for programs like socialworkout.com or mint.com or pick a site that aligns with a goal (for running, my Runners' World training log online, for my goal of qualifying for Boston Marathon), and I make all of those sites my home page. IE, in the AM, when I open my work browser, several tabs open at once-- I have mint.com, runnersworld.com, socialworkout.com, and other sites, auto-loaded, staring me in the face. Any time firefox crashes on me (176 times a day) and I have to reopen my browser, those sites are loaded and looking at me, saying, Catherine, don't forget, YOU PROMISED TO SAVE $XXX MONEY/DO YOGA THREE TIMES A WEEK/RUN A FREAKING MARATHON. It may even be worth it to create a google doc with your goals and make that one of your homepage tabs, too. YOU WILL NEVER FORGET.
I also used to use an auto-tweet program for running because it really encouraged me but apparently my friends would rather not receive those tweets 3-4 times a week so I had to stop. But I found it really motivating and helpful, because it held me accountable and I enjoyed sharing the fruits of my goal-making labors. So if you're into the social media, Garmin and Nike+ and a ton of other programs will autoshare your workouts, and I think it's a great way to keep on track with health/exercise goals.
Anyways, I think that's my full gamut of goalmaking/resolution-making tips. Hope they are helpful for you! Got any others to share with me? What are your goals for 2012?