My Goals for 2016

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

As the final post in my goals series, I think it’s appropriate to post my own goals for this year. Because I deeply value personal growth (mind, body and spirit), connecting meaningfully with my family, and empowering others, all my goals stem from these overarching objectives. I have a vision of what I want to become, so I state my goals as affirmations in the present tense to bring my reality closer to that of my vision.

Health:

  • I am craving healthy, nutritious foods, only indulging in treats/desserts once a month.
  • I am achieving my ideal weight of 120 pounds by July 1.
  • I am exercising for at least 20 minutes daily. (yoga, P90X3, walk/jog)

Family:

  • I am spending an hour of quality one-on-one time with each child once a week.
  • I am having 20 minutes of quality time with my husband every night.
  • I am planning the next week’s meals every Saturday.
  • I am involving my children in family history and journaling every Sunday.
  • I am traveling to Destin, Florida with my husband and/or children in September.

Mentoring:

  • I am holding a mentoring appointment every week by Dec. 1.
  • I am posting to my blog at least 3 times each month.
  • I am spending at least 2 hours a week in training or study.

Personal habits:

  • I am meditating every morning for 180 days straight.
  • I am using empowerment tools every morning and evening (vision board, declarations, goals review, etc.)
  • I am writing in my journal every evening.
  • I am reading scriptures every morning and memorizing one scripture every week.

I’m far from making most of these goals life habits, and I know it will be a constant challenge, but I want to keep striving. I aim for improvement, not perfection, so I don’t beat myself up for falling short. Posting these goals here is my way of shouting them to the world, which will make it more likely that I achieve them.

What goals do you have for yourself this year? Are any of them similar to any of mine? I’d love to see what changes you’re striving to make. Shout them out in the comments section!

 

Partner Up For Success

If you really want to achieve your goals, there’s one powerful step that most people don’t try–using an accountability partner.

Dr. Gayle Matthews, psychology professor at Dominican University, conducted a survey of 267 people from the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia, in various professions. They were randomly assigned to one of five groups and asked to do the following:

  • Group 1: Think deeply about the goals you want to accomplish over the next four weeks, but don’t write them down.
  • Group 2: Think about and write down these goals.
  • Group 3: Write down a list of action items to commit to for each of your written goals.
  • Group 4: Send your list of goals and action commitments to a supportive friend.
  • Group 5: Do all of the above, but also provide a progress report each week to a supportive friend concerning your goals and action commitments.

And what were the results of this study?

  • Group 1 achieved a mere 43% of their goals.
  • Groups 2 and 3 achieved 56% of their goals.
  • Group 4 achieved 64% of their goals.
  • Group 5 achieved 76%, which means they were 33% more likely to achieve their goals than first group!

So the powerful step revealed by this study is to find someone to report to concerning your goals. Just about all of us are socially motivated. Knowing that someone is going to check back with us about what we do gives us one more reason to go after our goals, especially when times get tough.

Which brings us to the question of, Who? Immediate family members usually do not work well, especially spouses, because you’re just too close, too much history and too many feelings involved. It’s a given that you want to find someone who genuinely cares about you and your growth and progress. Mentors and coaches are a great choice, but if that’s not an option, make an agreement with a friend that you will be accountable to each other for a similar goal.

For example, if you and a friend both want to improve your physical fitness, agree that you will both text each other every time you exercise. If your action goal was, say, to exercise 4 times a week, and you fall below that target, your friend could encourage you to step it up, and if you met or exceeded your goal, your friend could give you props. You could even up the ante by throwing in a wager, such as whoever exercises more frequently takes the other person to lunch.

Another idea is to form a social media group with friends who have the same goal as you. For example, I f you all want to make your scripture study more meaningful, you could each post to the group something you learned in the scriptures that week. It would give you a reason to look for something significant while you are studying. In this way you could also learn from each other’s insights. This idea would work well for friends who want to create works of art, such as poetry, painting, song-writing, etc. and then post what you create for the rest of the group to see and give you feedback on. If someone isn’t posting anything, the rest of the group could ask them about what they have in the works.

If your goals don’t lend themselves to these kinds of partnerships, then you can at least share your goals with someone else. Group 4 in the study achieved 64% of their goals, which was a 21% improvement over the first group. This is such an easy thing to do, especially with social media, so you might as well try it!

I believe that there is great power for good in relationships, and that we all depend on and need each other. Let’s harness that energy and power that we give to one another and use it to build things, grow, create wonderful lives, and make this world a better place!

Don’t Get Stopped!

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” -Booker T. Washington

Welcome to Part 3 in my series about goal setting and achievement. Now that you have set, written down, and are reviewing your goals, it’s time to go get ’em! But that’s easier said than done. So often, when we start to work toward a goal, obstacles arise that threaten to thwart our progress. Please don’t let them stop you! These obstacles are part of the process. Just knowing ahead of time that they will pop up can help you to power over, around, or through them. Instead of seeing them as stop signs, which far too many of us do, causing us to give up or slack off, look at them as detour signs and press on. A favorite speaker and author of mine, Neal A. Maxwell, has written:

“Our goals should stretch us bit by bit. So often when we think we have encountered a ceiling, it is really a psychological or experimental barrier that we have built ourselves. We built it and we can remove it.”

Yes, we built that ceiling by thinking it, feeling it, or becoming intimidated by it. But breaking through these barriers will stretch and grow us. Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, names three categories for these obstacles: Considerations, Fears and Roadblocks.

Considerations are all the reasons why you shouldn’t attempt the goal, reasons why you may see it as impossible. Considerations are the easiest of these obstacles to move past because they are nothing more than thoughts in your mind. Becoming aware of these thoughts is a good thing, because you can only deal with and confront them once they’re in your conscious mind. Examples of considerations are:

  • “I don’t have enough time.”
  • “My (husband/wife/parents/children/etc.) wouldn’t like it.”
  • “I’m too old to start.”
  • “It’s too hard for me.”
  • “I don’t know how to do it.”

Fears are a little more complicated because, although they started out just as thoughts, they have now become clothed in negative emotion. Fears can be quite debilitating, and are meant to be so, as part of an evolutionary process intended to preserve our lives. Thankfully, though, most of the threats that we fear aren’t life-threatening, and when we see them for what they really are, we can choose to feel the fear and move forward anyway. (See this post to read more about FEAR.) Eleanor Roosevelt famously stated:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Sometimes that added strength we gain from facing our fears is the very strength we need to reach our goals! Here are some examples of fears that delay our progress:

  • “I’d be too embarrassed.”
  • “I’m afraid he/she/they won’t like me.”
  • “I might get hurt.”
  • “I could lose everything.”

Roadblocks go beyond thoughts and emotions. They are the external elements of reality that presently block you from your goals. You’ll have to resolve and deal with these circumstances, but you’ll find a way. Examples of roadblocks are:

  • “I don’t have connections with the right people.”
  • “I’m not allowed to do that.”
  • “I don’t have enough money yet.”
  • “I don’t have a (car/office/team/contract/etc.)”

I know it’s not easy to develop this kind of attitude, but learn to welcome these kinds of thoughts, feelings and circumstances when they appear, because they just might be the very things that have been holding you back up until now. After you’ve dealt with them, you’ll be stronger and more prepared for your next endeavor.

“An obstacle is often an unrecognized opportunity. When a man wages war against his weakness, this is the most holy war he can ever enter…and the joy of accomplishment is the most exquisite.” -Marion G. Romney

Yes, these obstacles, or our reactions to them, are often little more than weaknesses that we can make into strengths. And we really can find great joy as we press on and succeed despite them. Also, that rewarding burst of accomplishment energy can’t be beat!

In my own journey to becoming a mentor, I have encountered all sorts of fears and discouraging thoughts: that I’m not personable or confident enough; that I haven’t had a difficult enough life/sob story to inspire others; that I don’t have the skills or know enough tools; that I won’t be able to find people who want to work with me; that I’m too embarrassed or shy to open up my mouth and talk to people; that everything I want to share has already been written much more skillfully by others; that I can’t be both a successful mentor and great wife and mother; that my ideas aren’t interesting or original enough. I could go on and on, but the important thing is that I faced/am facing these fears and considerations and am carrying on anyway, because I know I can and must do this.

And if I can do it, so can you!

Always Before Your Eyes

We’re now over a week into the new year. How is your goal setting coming along? Hopefully by now you’ve written down your goals. (If you haven’t, see the previous blog post in this series for  powerful tips.) What’s next? Maybe you’re like me and write goals from time to time in your journal or someplace and never look at them again. This hasn’t produced the best results. The essential next step is to review your written goals regularly. Keep them always before your eyes and you will achieve them.

A study by Dr. David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, shows the importance of both writing down AND reviewing your goals:

  • 80% of Americans reported that they have no goals. (Huh, I really can’t even imagine having absolutely no direction in life! How sad.)
  • 16% said they have goals, but don’t write them down.
  • Of the remainder, less than 4% take the time to write their goals down. (If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re part of this group.)
  • Which leaves less than 1% of Americans, who write their goals and review them regularly.

I want to be part of the last group, and here’s why. Dr. Kohl analyzed the income generated by this small group across their lifetimes and found that they earned nine times more than Americans who didn’t have goals. 9X! That is huge! Now, I know that income is only one of many indicators of success in life, but for most people, it’s pretty important to be financially secure. If this study doesn’t motivate you to write and review your goals, I don’t know what would!

How often should you review your goals? Jack Canfield, successful author, recommends referring to your goals 3 times a day: first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day, and right before going to bed. Personally, I aim to review my goals twice a day, morning and evening.

Okay, that’s great, but HOW should you review them, to get the most bang for your buck? Try the following tips, some from Canfield and some from me, and see what works best for you:

  • Write your goals on index cards, keep them on your nightstand, and read them first thing when you wake up and right before you go to sleep. Doing this will help your goals to be on your mind throughout the day and prime your subconscious mind to work on how to achieve them while you sleep. (I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of being productive while I sleep!)
  • Put your list of goals in your daily planner or calendar system.
  • If you’re digitally inclined, create a popup on your electronic device of choice, or use your goals for the wallpaper image on your screen.
  • Write your most important goal on the back of your business card and put it in your wallet or purse where you’ll see it often.
  • Keep your written goals in your car, and whenever you are stopped at a red light, read one of your goals and think about it until the next time you’re stopped. (I’m going to start doing this when I take my kids to and from school!)
  • Mount a vision board on your bedroom wall, posting on it words and pictures representing your goals. Look at it morning and night. When you’ve achieved a goal, take the item off the board and place it in a “success binder.” (I’ll go more in-depth on vision boards in a future blog post.)
  • Create a “goal book” with a page depicting each one of your goals as though you’ve already achieved it. Review the book before bed.

No matter which method you choose to review your goals, be sure to also read them out loud from time to time, when you’re in an appropriate setting. Don’t just read them in a boring voice, but with energy, passion, and enthusiasm. If you really want this to be a powerful experience, incorporate gestures whenever you can.

Also, with each goal you read, take a moment to feel how you imagine you will feel once you achieve it. Jack Canfield writes in The Success Principles that doing this activates the structural tension in your brain, which increases your motivation, stimulates your creativity, and heightens your awareness of the resources you need.

Now go get after it! Make your selected method for reviewing your goals a daily habit, and soon it will become a near-effortless part of your life and bring you big results.