I am writing this on New Year’s Day and thinking about some goals for next year. We often judge ourselves on our intentions and judge other people according to their actions. Meaning, we have a higher standard for other people than we usually do for ourselves. We cut ourselves too much slack, believe our own excuses, exaggerate our accomplishments, and minimize our setbacks. Many of us have a desire to succeed, but won’t spend enough energy to follow through. Here are some steps that will move you beyond wishful thinking.
Goals are activities to help us achieve important personal and professional tasks. Adequate time to accomplish your goals should be considered to help avoid unnecessary urgencies or crises. It is important to allow enough time to work on and accomplish your goals. The planning stage begins with taking a careful inventory of where you are right now. Many of us underestimate our strengths or our available resources. We may discount our intelligence, abilities, and opportunities. Poor planning can lead to unnecessary crises or half-finished plans. Set a goal big enough to provide a worthwhile challenge, but not so monumental that it could never be accomplished. Keep in mind that goals do not have to be performance or appearance based, but can be qualities and characteristics in yourself. A goal might include being more responsible, respectful, persevering, or compassionate. We do want to find a way to make it measurable. I am fond of saying “do the thing you need to do or get yourself ready to do the thing you need to do.” If you want to go back to school, then begin preparing yourself for that day. Gather the resources you need; researching schools, taking qualifying exams, filling out applications,and getting yourself financially prepared are all examples of how to do this.
According to Aristotle, Mary Poppins, and others: “Well begun is half done.” Perhaps getting started may be more difficult then you first thought. There are a myriad of disruptions that sabotage our efforts along the way. Identify and eliminate common distractions in your life. If the task is not urgent and not important, consider it a distraction. Watching television, playing video games, and endlessly texting may be viewed as distractions. They are neither urgent nor very important, but manage to engage your attention and keep you from working toward any significant goal. If a task is urgent, but not important, you might be easily interrupted by it. Other people are often the source of these interruptions. Someone walking by your chair while you are reading and asking questions might be seen as an interruption. Watch for other important sounding but time squandering, goal killing delays. Procrastination, distractions, and interruptions must be managed. Be grateful without complaining how hard the challenge can be. Resist the urge to focus too much energy on previous faults or failures or on foreseen future difficulties, setbacks, or potential problems. Remind yourself of your strengths, abilities, and talents.
This is the maintenance stage of any goal or project, and this stage can be the most difficult. In this stage of achieving a goal, you may run into problems, blocks, and difficulties. Expecting your goal to be easily attained is unrealistic and will only increase your overall sense of frustration. Find ways to keep your enthusiasm high. Boredom is one of the chief difficulties in the maintenance stage. Planting can be exciting; harvest brings the payoff; but the boring part of the hot summer can be difficult for even the most patient and persevering among us. One of the most difficult parts for me is having a goal but not yet seeing the results that I expected. Only to find out, that more time, energy, and money will be required. Even with careful planning this is often the case. Don’t grow weary and give up. For me, it is helpful to reiterate the primary reason I set the goal in the first place. Use accountability, support, and the encouragement of others to sustain your motivation. You may need to solve problems or adjust your plans to accomplish your initial goal. Self-sabotage can be a common enemy in this stage as well. When frustration and fatigue set in, you may be tempted to give up rather than press through. Although I am fond of saying, “if the horse is dead, dismount,” in most cases usually it isn’t dead, just disinterested. Adjust your strategy and your tactics rather than give up on your goal.
For those of us at Journey to Recovery and for those who read our blog, we perhaps share certain goals. We desire to help the needy, house the homeless, encourage the brokenhearted and bring hope to all who desire long-term recovery. Plan big, push through the tough spots, and rejoice for every changed life you see. Happy New Year.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!