PJ Sharon, here. As a published author with seven novels, a novella, a short story, a box set, and a non-fiction healthy lifestyle book (about to be released), I can say without a doubt that setting goals is essential to success. At the very least, setting goals will help you focus and keep you moving toward manifesting your dreams. It may also help you keep your sanity along the way.
First, let me start by saying that “resolutions” are futile and “goals” are more like guidelines. Giving yourself absolutes is a sure way to set yourself up for failure. We aren’t perfect, and even at our best, we can only accomplish so much. “Resolving” to eat right, exercise, and publish two novels a year may seem like a good idea on January 1st, but what happens when we fall off the diet and exercise wagon or don’t meet that word count? Kids get sick, spouses and parents need attention, and let’s face it, the crazy world we live in is anything but predictable. Disappointment and attachment to failure can quickly derail motivation, so instead of making resolutions that will likely fall by the way side in a few weeks and leave you frustrated once again, here’s what I recommend.
You’ll notice those goals above—eating healthy and exercising—are actually rather vague. The first key to goal setting is to be specific. Next, make goals measurable, realistic, and attainable. Write them down and don’t forget to set up rewards for when you reach a milestone. Specificity gives you a clear plan and a path to success. Instead of saying I’m going to “eat healthy,” say, “I’m going to have one egg, a piece of toast, and a quarter cup of cottage cheese for breakfast today.” See? Specific, measurable, realistic, and attainable.
Fully expect your goals to change as the situation changes, and accept that your goals are simply a measure toward progress and not necessarily a final destination. Use goals to create a clear pathway to achieving your dreams and frequently evaluate what’s working in your plans and what’s not. Setting short term and long term goals can be done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly for every project in your life. Not that life’s curveballs won’t likely derail the plan somewhere along the way, but having long range goals like a comfortable retirement are great motivators for keeping you on track; using sites like SoFi when it comes to planning retirement finances can help to make the process a less stressful one. Breaking down your big goals into manageable steps can also make the big picture plan less overwhelming.
Create lists, brain dumping grids, or use whatever method works for you, but find a way to get organized. Disorganization compounds feelings of being overwhelmed. Reassess goals quarterly as a rule, but don’t be rigid. Goals are fluid and your plan for setting them should be too. I’m a two-steps forward and one step back kind of goal setter, which means I am constantly taking a step back to reassess and make sure I’m headed in the right direction and that the goals I’m working toward are still what I truly want. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to regroup or even to change direction entirely if the path you’re on is making you miserable. Sometimes, the goals we set for ourselves aren’t conducive to the lifestyles we lead or even the least bit in keeping with what’s right for us. Make sure as you make and reassess your goals that you have your priorities straight. Know what is most important to you and keep your limitations in perspective. Unrealistic expectations lead to unnecessary stresses and are the first step to a downward spiral.
For instance, I know that to keep up with the industry standard of publishing two books (or more) a year, I would have to work like a dog on my writing and give up other things that are important to me. Namely, spending one day a week with my granddaughter, running my holistic health care practice, and engaging in a consistent exercise regimen that helps me maintain a healthy spirit, mind, and body. Those are priorities that I won’t allow to take a back seat to writing productivity or financial gain. In addition, forcing myself to “produce” can take the joy out of writing…and isn’t that joy what makes the magic happen on the page? For me, the quality of my writing suffers when I don’t allow my creative process to flow naturally, and as for most things in life, quality usually trumps quantity. You need to be realistic about what you can, and are willing to do, to achieve your goals.
One more point about goal setting. Sharing your goals can help you by keeping you held accountable and can help others by motivating them and giving them new ideas. Buddy up and work with close friends who are on similar paths. We aren’t alone in our struggles and needing to draw strength from others doesn’t make us weak. It simply makes us human.
As January blusters in, have you set any goals for the first quarter of 2016? Are they specific, measurable, realistic, and attainable?
In addition to authoring award winning young adult novels, PJ Sharon owns the holistic health care practice, ABSolute Fitness and Therapeutic Bodywork in Granby, CT. With over twenty-five years in the health and fitness industry, Ms. Sharon finally wrote the book all her clients have been asking for. Overcome your Sedentary Lifestyle is a holistic living, self-help book, written to get people motivated and moving toward a more balanced and active lifestyle.
When she’s not writing, or spreading the love through her practice, she can be found kayaking in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, and renovating an old farmhouse with the love of her life.
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