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Reso…What? Goal Setting Techniques for Personal and Professional Success

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I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years of people not doing New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s like an anti-resolution backlash.  People are refusing to make resolutions because they never follow through.  It’s now the cool thing to not try something because you’re just going to fail anyway, the same way as it’s incredibly cool to not care overly much about anything.  Cynicism and bitterness are the new black (or grey, I can’t keep up).     There are other people who still do resolutions, but they are insistent on not calling them resolutions, because resolutions always fail.  So they call them ‘changes’ or ‘goals’ but phrased or planned out pretty identically to the ‘resolutions’ from yesteryear and those usually don’t work either.  Well guess what?  I’m calling this out as foolish. What on earth is wrong with being intentional about making a fresh new year your best yet?  

Now, for the downer pessimists (I know, I know, they call themselves ‘realists’ but the ‘reality’ is they are downer pessimists) who want to tell you that it’s stupid because nothing will change I will tell you: if you don’t change anything you’re completely right.  Nothing will change.  So if your Resolution is to earn more money, but you don’t learn new skills or apply for new jobs, you will not make your resolution happen.  My husband and I do goals every year and you know what?  We achieve them!  The reason why we achieve them is because we are good at setting goals that work.  These goal setting techniques have helped me achieve things that a lot of people have told me is unlikely or impossible.  I have written a novel in 30 days, I have carried twins to 38 weeks (and gotten to my pre-pregnancy body in 6 months), we have started successful businesses, we have survived newborn twins and a toddler and we have also gotten through some really hard stuff as well.  

Because I like you and want you to be successful, I’m going to share what you need to do to make your resolutions happen.  (Unless of course, you’d prefer to be ultra cool and laugh about how you’re going to ensure your unsatisfactory life stays that way forever.)  I think these will work for everyone.  Some of them seem weird and uncomfortable, so you have a choice.  You can try it anyway, or you can say, in a whiny, fearful voice “that’s different from what I’m used to.  I’m not going to do anything different.”  Cool  Then guess what?  (See paragraph one).  

1.    For all your ‘resolutions’ or goals, get to your ‘why’.  For example if you want to get a new job in 2015, ask why? So you can make more money? Why? So you can upgrade your home?  Why? So you can live in a more tranquil environment?  Why? So you can feel more peaceful?  AHA…you are getting close to your why.  Going through this process will give you clarity to what you REALLY want in life and some insight into what your core beliefs tell you will get you there. You can then decide if you’re on the right track or not.  Do this for all your resolutions.  Get down to anywhere from 1-3 big “Why’s”.  One might be, “I want to work in a career that makes a difference in my community and earns me enough money to provide for my family and help others in need.”

2.    For each WHY, pick a few milestones that will get you there.  They might need to be incremental.   I like to include an overall goal as well as a performance goal physically. For example, “I am going to increase my marketability by earning a sought after credential” or “I am going to increase my professional network by joining an industry association and attending the meetings.”

3.    For each milestone, develop a list of the behaviors that get you to where you want to be.  You’re not going to get a certificate if you don’t research and start studying.  You won’t increase your network if you don’t meet new people.  

4.    Do your homework. ANY goal can be achieved if you break it into small enough pieces.  Remember this. If your goals seems unattainable, maybe you’re not being realistic about how long it will take.  Reassess.  If you have a goal you really want to achieve, but can’t break it down into the discrete steps you need to do to get here, you need to figure it out.  Research online, talk to a friend or a professional.  There are people who can help. If you think you should be able to do it yourself, or are embarrassed to ask for help, let me ask you…how’s that working out for you in getting to achieve your dreams?

5.    Affirmations.  Yes, they sound cheesy and weird.  You can let that stop you, it won’t bother me any, but once again, contempt prior to investigation is foolish.  Part of the reason resolutions fail is because we are trying to do something we don’t believe about ourselves.  If you believe you hate exercise or are just destined to be overweight you absolutely will be .  THE key to success (besides point number one) is to change your beliefs.  Write an affirmative statement about your resolution.  For it to be effective, it needs to be positive (not phrased in terms of a negative), present tense, action oriented.  For example a BAD one would be “I’m going to try not to hate my job”.  A GOOD one is “I take every opportunity I am presented with to teach, learn and grow.” And “I am developing my new career through hard work and mutually beneficial relationships.”

There’s more, but you get the general idea.  You can start over any day of the year. It’s never too late to start attaining your dream life, but you do need to start.  Why not New Year’s?

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Author: Carrie Maldonado

Carrie Maldonado, is an organizational development consultant, author, and speaker. Carrie's eclectic mix of professional interests include writing, speaking, coaching, and consulting on topics ranging from organizational behavior management to spiritual transformation in and out of the workplace. Carrie lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her patient and long-suffering husband and their three children.

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