This time of year people start thinking about New Year's resolutions or plans for the coming year to be better or more successful. There are some key things to keep in mind when planning for the year to come. Plan big, but be realistic. Plan for change, but make it a sustainable one. Break your goals down into sub-goals and, lastly, write them down and include a timeline.
Often people come up with a goal for the coming year that is not realistic. When we do this, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Make a plan that is optimistic but not unattainable.
When planning for changes, make sure that they are sustainable ones. Don’t plan to change something that will only last for a set timeline. Often people go on 30- or 90-day cleanses or dramatic diets that they have no intention of making into long-term changes. The key to making changes is to choose something that you would like to make permanent. A good example: "I am never going to eat junk food again." This is obviously not a sustainable change. What will work better would be "I am only going to eat junk food on Sundays” or “I am going to stop eating chips”. When we make changes that have a possibility of lasting, we not only have a better chance of being successful, but we are also setting ourselves up for long-term success which is really the goal of planning for the future.
Now that we have a big picture goal that is realistic and sustainable, it is time to break it down into sub-goals. These should be microcosms of the larger goal. For example, if our goal is to “never eat chips again”, then a good sub-goal is to not eat chips during the week for the next month. It is realistic, sustainable, and has a timeline.
The last and one of the most important parts of planning is to write it down. This should be written in ink on paper and then kept somewhere that you can access it throughout the year. Having this written copy will allow you to not only keep yourself accountable, but also give you something to check in with to see where you are at with your plan. So our written plan would look something like this:
Goal – never eat chips again
Time line – Completely off chips in 6 months
Sub-goal 1 – Only eat chips on the weekends for 2 months
Sub-goal 2 – Only eat chips on Sundays for 2 months
Sub-goal 3 – Only eat chips very second Sunday for 2 months
Result: After 6 months of sustainable changes, we can go off chips completely!
Of course chips are a just an example, but these planning tips can apply to anything you want to accomplish. So now all we have to do is follow these rules and make it happen!