By Lauren Presutti
We are a couple weeks into January 2021… how are your New Year’s resolutions going? Are you still riding the wave of motivation that came with the fresh start to 2021? Or has it been a slow process? What are you noticing about your energy and ability to maintain consistency? Perhaps one of the most important questions that you can ask yourself is, what are your natural strengths that may be useful in goal attainment? Maybe you excel at list-making, organization, communicating with others, resourcefulness, finding balance between work and play, journaling, or self-reflection – how can any of these strengths be utilized in your efforts to achieve success?
Beyond using natural strengths, starting with the right mindset can be helpful in reaching goals. If we are telling ourselves, “I am not good enough or smart enough or prepared enough to achieve my goals,” our thoughts will create our reality and our mindset will hold us back from success. It’s important to identify any negative self-talk and challenge those negative thoughts to become more positive. It sounds cliché, but telling yourself “I can do this” or “I got this,” really works.
And, maintaining accountability can make a huge difference. The word “accountability” can have a negative connotation, sometimes implying blame or judgment. However, when seen as a way of tracking success, accountability can create a sense of ownership and pride. For many people, it’s important to feel accountable to someone other than yourself, so don’t be afraid to share your goals with the people closest to you. It might also be helpful to ask yourself, “What helps me feel more accountable? What needs to happen for me to stay on track?”
It can also be helpful to keep your goals in sight. For many of us, it’s easy to forget about our goals or accidentally prioritize the wrong things because we are just trying to get through day-to-day life. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in managing daily stressors, such as unexpected work problems or new social demands on our plate, that we forget about our personal goals for health and wellness. To avoid this, you might consider writing down your goals on a sticky note to put on your bedroom mirror or kitchen table. Or you may decide to create a “vision board” – a visual representation of your goals. Using technology, you can also make an electronic collage of photos representing your goals and use it as your phone or computer wallpaper. Get creative! Think about how else you may keep your goals in sight.
Along with keeping our goals in sight, it’s critical to track progress on a regular basis. We can do this with a goal tracking worksheet (there are many free printable worksheets online), journaling, discussing progress with people in our lives, or a method of your own. The key is to regularly check-in on your progress and take note of where you are and where you need to go before your next check-in. If you notice yourself backsliding, try not to punish yourself or become self-critical. Instead, pause and take notice of what has caused a delay in progress. Carefully identify the barriers getting in your way and then brainstorm how you can target those roadblocks.
Finally, we can’t expect ourselves to work steadily toward a goal without rewards along the way. Not only does this drain our energy and make us feel deprived of fulfillment through the journey, but it can also diminish our motivation, it can lead to limiting beliefs about our success, and it can skew our perceptions of what we are capable of. We have to recognize the small moments of progress every step of the way. Celebrating our ability to cross things off our list – no matter how big or small – will help build our confidence and commitment, making it easier for us to keep pushing to reach those large-scale future goals.