It is easy to set goals but often difficult to keep and reach them. We will say, "The next time I go on a diet, I will stay on it" or "I am going to start saving money". In spite of this, we often fail because we do not set our minds to the goal or apply direct action to achieving the goal.
Set, keep and achieve your goal
1. When setting goals do not set them so high that you set yourself up to fail. Some goals are so ambitious that it is almost impossible to keep or reach them. It may be best to take plodding baby steps to get where you want to be. If you remember the Aesop fable of The Tortoise and the Hare, you will recall that the tortoise won the race by being steady and focused.
2. Do not keep your goals a secret from family; this includes your children. This is especially important if you have set a goal to rid yourself a habit that may be harmful to your health, i.e. smoking, indulging in 'super sized' meals, too much caffeine, etc. You can be sure your family wants to see you stay fit and healthy, so they will help keep you on target.
3. Assess your goals; are they habit driven or money driven? “I will stop smoking” and “I will go on a diet” are habit driven goals. Money driven goals may be harder to accomplish but can be achieved when you have a solid plan and do not allow yourself to be deterred.
4. Do not mix or bundle your goals. "I want to pay off all of my credit card bills, buy a house and move from this apartment." Keep your goals separate and not necessarily equal. Buying a house is a less important goal if you are up to your ears in debt.
5. Don't make too many goals at one time. Pay off bills. Buy a house and move from apartment. How many goals are here - two or three?
6. Be specific. Define and separate your goals. Moving into your own home can be the result of paying off your bills.
__ Your short-term goal is to pay your credit card bills.
__ Your long-term goal is to buy a house.
__ Moving is the result of achieving your long-term goal.
7. Think of your goal as a contract with yourself. Contracts have commencement and end dates. Your goal should have a start and deadline date. If your goal is money driven, such as paying off debts, a reasonable start date gives you time to firm the idea in your mind "I will start paying off my credit card bills December 1, ____." The deadline date should be realistic to your debt and your budget "I will pay 'Big Department Store' in full by July 31, _____."
8. If after several months (3 or 4), you are having problems achieving your goal, modify or redefine it and continue. Track the progress you have made toward making your goal a success. You will find that you have already gone further than you would have in the past. The key here is to continue moving toward your goal.
9. When you reach your goal congratulate yourself and celebrate. You deserve it.
10. After a time you may feel yourself slipping. Take a deep breath and remember how you felt just a year before.
Do these steps work? As one who has gone through a large debt reduction process, I can assure you that they do.
For additional information concerning personal and family goal-setting visit http://www.family.samhsa.gov/be/goals.aspx