What we are doing is, in its simplest form, goal setting. But setting a goal is more than just...setting a goal. The worst thing we can do is set a big goal that seems unattainable because we will get discouraged and fail to achieve that goal. Instead of "lose 20 lbs", how about "I am going to exercise more and eat healthier." Instead of "run a half marathon", train for a 5k. Instead of trying to go from a C student to straight A's, just focus on improving each month--you will eventually get B's and then A's. Take it in smaller more attainable steps. Instead of trying to be "Dad of the Year", just decide to spend more time with the kids reading or playing with them. Eat one meal a day together.
When people set a New Year's resolution it's usually a big one, which is fine if you're dedicated enough and know what it takes to follow through, but most people don't. The running shoes end up in the closet, the gym membership unused, the student frustrated at "only getting B's". This isn't to say that we shouldn't set goals, or push ourselves, but we should be realistic about it. There is a saying, "Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time." The smaller you can break down your goals the easier they will be to attain and the more you will remain motivated.
Last year I set a goal for myself to lose weight and get in better shape. I didn't buy a gym membership, start running every day, or set an unrealistic goal to lose an inordinate amount of weight. I simply wanted to be more active; I bicycled more, hiked, and kayaked on the weekends. As I became more active and my body started looking for more, I started weight lifting and doing cardio. I went from a very sedative lifestyle to spending an hour or more working out every day. If I had jumped right into working out for more than an hour everyday, chances are I would have "failed" and gotten discouraged. Not because I set an unattainable goal but because I didn't do it properly.
Share your goals, but not with everyone. It really bothers me when I see and hear kids telling everyone they know "I am going to get straight A's this year" (or any other proclamation). The biggest reason is that you may have people who will watch for you to fail, criticizing you along the way. So instead, choose who to share your goals with. If you are starting to run, talk to people who run. If you are trying to lose weight, talk to people who have lost weight. If you want to get better grades, get a tutor or talk to someone who gets better grades and see how they do it.
Goal setting is fantastic and can change your life if you understand how to do it. John Bishop's Goal Setting for Students is a great one for kids, as is Beverly Bachel's What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go for It! A Guide for Teens. Check back here also, I will more than likely to about goal setting more in the future!
Welcome to a New Year, where you CAN achieve those goals...one "bite" at a time!