Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Step 3 - Planning Success One Step at a Time

Goals, you either love them or hate them.  Some people flourish when they have a goal to accomplish while other people wither.  Who knows why this is the case, but it seems to hold true.

Now is the time to make a little confession.  I don't like goals which force me to change.  I want to change because I want to change, not because some goal is telling me to. (Yes, this makes little to no sense, but it is true.  Apparently I have a little teenage rebellion left inside trying to get out.) With this in mind I try and set my goals so I don't feel controlled by them. I want goals that help me become "more" and don't confine me to be "less."

I find one of the most important aspects of goal setting is the steps I take to get there.  Nothing is as overwhelming as a huge goal looming overhead with no obvious way to achieve it.  I immediately feel intimidated, question my own sanity for attempting to complete the task and then wonder why I set the goal in the first place.  The kiss of death comes knocking when I feel controlled by the goal.  I always rebel, and well, that goal is history.

A few days ago I talked about the steps to setting goals.  Yesterday I talked about figuring out what you want to change and why.  Today I want to talk about the steps of the goal. 

Setting the goal is not enough.  If you are serious you must plan a way to get there. I mentioned before that a goal without a plan is just a wish.  I add now that wishing is a passive act.  "I wish I had a million dollars," or "I wish I was thin," or "I wish I had more friends," isn't going to change anything.  If you want a million dollars find a way to earn it.  (As a disclaimer, I do not endorse robbing a bank or any other form of illegal or illicit activity to reach this goal.  I just wanted to be clear about that 'cause I know what you were thinking...)

Start with the small and obvious steps.  If you want to be thin start by looking at your existing habits. 
Do you exercise?
Do you eat portions the right size for your body?
Do you have support from your family and friends?
Do you have an emotional need you are filling with food? 

When you understand where you are starting you will have a solid list of steps to take.  In this case, you may need to find an exercise program you are comfortable with and learn how to eat correct portions.  Maybe a personal trainer and a nutrition class are the first steps to becoming thin. After that you may need to find a support group or maybe even a counselor.  All of these things are vital steps to reaching your goal.

If you don't plan out your steps you are likely to fail for no other reason than distraction.  Without a plan your goal is a loose and floating idea, a wish.  For example, if being organized is the goal, you need a plan to get there. Have you ever started going through the junk drawer, determined to get rid of all the junk?  Half way through you see a picture of your friend and realize you haven't spoken in months.  You pick up the phone, give her a call and WHAM, you forget all about the junk drawer.  When the call is over you see a big pile of stuff on the counter, think, "I finish that later," then shove everything back in the drawer and walk away.

The plan didn't have enough steps and you got distracted.  Don't feel bad, it happens to all of us and we all hate it when we realize we got sidetracked.  If your plan had included throwing away the trash, filing the important papers and identifying the things to take care of later, you would have put that picture in the "later" box and finished the drawer before picking up the phone.

Now is the time to look at the goals you identified and visit the reasons you want those goals.  When you have the vision firmly in your brain it is time to plan out the steps.  Make them clear and defined, but realistic enough to accomplish.  Taking this time is worth it, so sit down and figure it out.  We all want to be successful and this is how to make it happen.

Next we will look at time management.  Even the best goals will never be finished if we work on them "tomorrow."  So spend today working on your plan. You will be glad you did.

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