Setting goals is something that’s often talked about this time of year. The first of the year, new beginnings, new possibilities… so much to be excited about, right?!! Many goals are set and by February most of us are back to doing the same old stuff, forgetting about all those promised “goals” made just a few weeks earlier. Why do we let those things we started with good intentions slip away?? Often it’s simply just poor planning; not taking the time to follow through with these well-intended ideas to better ourselves. It takes work, dedication, and it’s not always easy, but if you follow these 3 simple steps to keep your New Year’s resolution, the likelihood of keeping them will increase exponentially.
Having a vision is the step where you set your goal. It can be something you want to do better in life, something you want to change, or something you want to add. It can be anything really! From something simple to something complex, you make it what you want. The idea is that this goal should be an improvement in your life. So anything from flossing daily (had to add that, I’m a hygienist! And it’s a great goal for everyone, haha!) to budgeting, to making more “me” time…it’s all fair game in this section. Brainstorming is helpful and can help you narrow down which goal(s) you want to focus on first. You can create a list of several and prioritize them; don’t feel like you have to perfect them all at once. Sometimes it’s best to focus on one goal at a time…if you can do more than one at a time, good for you! but don’t get too overwhelmed. Keep it simple. I love this step because it forces you to take a look inside and really find what’s important to YOU; what you like and what needs a little work. Once you’ve decided the goal/goals you want to work on, you’re ready for step number 2.
This is the planning phase. It’s like a road map. You’re starting at point A and you want to get to point B. How do you do it? It is different for everyone depending on what works for you personally. For example, I’ll use the flossing just because I know everyone wants to master that this year :). If you want to floss daily, it would help to first find what you like to use for floss (traditional floss, flossers, picks, interdental brushes, etc.). To help you remember to floss, you could put your flossing aid on your nightstand, next to where you plug in your phone before bed so you will see them and remember to floss. This is your plan! And as you set your goals, be sure to WRITE THEM DOWN!! If they’re not written down, they are much less likely to be achieved.
As you’re planning, it’s helpful to set SMART goals. You might be familiar with the acronym, but if you’re not it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
Specific: A general goal would be “I’m going to start flossing.” You technically only have to floss once to reach this goal. Instead it would be better to say “I’m going to floss every night before bed.” This is much more specific, and it will be easier to track and evaluate how you are doing.
Measurable: If your goal is “I’m going to floss every night before bed”, it will be very easy to measure. You just simple keep track each day, did you floss or not. If I just say “I’m going to start flossing”, it’s much more difficult to measure it. This will also help with the evaluation process (See step 3).
Achievable: When you decide something is important to you and you start planning how you’re going to do it, you begin to figure out what it’s going to take to get there. In order to achieve your goal of “I’m going to floss every night before bed”, you have to figure out how that’s going to fit into your normal bedtime routine.
Realistic: Ask yourself if you’re willing and able to complete your goal. Let’s say you decide to go big and set a goal of “I’m going to floss after every meal and snack.” Chances are this is unrealistic for many reasons. If you’re having a hard time flossing even once a day, trying to start doing it 5 times a day likely isn’t going to happen. And come on, ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉
Timely: When goals have some sort of a time component associated with them, it gives you a sense of urgency and priority to be more focused on them and therefore achieve them. So you might actually add to your goal: I’m going to floss every day for the next two months. That not only makes your goal a priority but it will also have created a habit out of the behavior at that point, and the likelihood is high that you will continue to floss without even thinking about it.
Once you start working toward a goal, you need to track your progress in order to determine if you’re doing what you should to meet your goal. Evaluation can also help you recognize things you’re doing or not doing that are actually preventing you from reaching your goals. So you might choose to set aside a small block of time each Sunday, for example, to evaluate how you’ve done over the past week, implement any necessary changes, and move forward. This evaluation gives you great feedback and can also be very motivating!
Rewarding yourself for a job well-done is never a bad idea either. If you’re totally rockin’ it with your new goal, figure out what motivates you and splurge on yourself a little bit. That’s the best part, right?! 🙂 Whether it’s a new pair of shoes, lunch date, massage, pedicure… (ok, these are sounding so nice right now!) happily reward yourself and stay on track!
Finally, if your goal isn’t working quite as planned, you can modify it after evaluating it for a period of time. Starting something new is often unchartered territory. No need to feel bad or ashamed, simply revise and go through the steps. Now you have a better idea of what is achievable and you can feel great about your new, revised goal. You should feel proud of yourself for being persistent in achieving this goal and learning more about YOU in the process.
Hope you’ve all set some great goals this year! We know these steps will be helpful for you along your journey. Let us know what helps you with goal setting!
Karli and Angie