Setting goals for the new year


New year, new you. How many times have you heard that or something similar? Or perhaps you’ve heard so much about failed resolutions that you don’t even bother thinking of goals for the new year. So are new goals worth considering?

Here’s a way to look at goals: If you shoot for the stars but only make it to the moon, you’ve still gone a long way.

If you decide to run a marathon in 2020 but you just manage to regularly run 3 miles four times per week, you’ve improved your health and built better habits. And if you started as a nonrunner, you’ve built a base to work toward that marathon in 2021.

Two of the hardest parts of meeting goals are starting and continuing. Think of strategies ahead of time to improve your success.

Start by picking a small part of your goal just to get you going.

To follow the running theme, put on whatever athletic-type shoes you have and walk a distance. Don’t overdo it. Go short and slow to start.

Add a bit at a time so you improve without lots of pain. Otherwise, you may start thinking about quitting.

If you do take on too much at first, don’t quit. Back off. Heal. Restart at a slower pace or shorter distance. Add slowly. Steadily move toward your goal.

Perhaps your goal is to declutter your house. Start with one drawer. Pick the one you see or use the most. Enjoying its peaceful organization will help spur you to do another.

Give yourself a deadline. Even better, give yourself a number of small deadlines. Rejoice each time you meet one.

Small, cheap rewards can help you stay motivated. Just don’t sabotage your efforts. Avoid food rewards if you are working to lose weight. Don’t buy a new blouse because you have more room in your closet. Buy the new clothing when you lose a set amount. Make cookies or go for a run to celebrate finishing your closet makeover.

Realize life happens. You may be making great strides toward your goal only to have to come to a complete stop. That’s OK. You have made progress. Make a note about where to pick up when you can restart. If it’s something like running, you may have to drop back to a more comfortable level before moving forward again.

If you don’t have time for a long run, do something. My fall-back is a stationary bike. At least I keep a workout in my daily routine.

Get your kids involved. Ask them to help you stay on track. Set a goal for all of you to work on. For example, make it the family objective to have the kitchen spotless with all the dishes washed and put away before bedtime each day. You’ll feel better about heading straight to your morning workout if you don’t have to pass a mess. And an organized space helps everyone get their day off to a smooth start. Perhaps your kids will want to join your exercise session.

Goals come in lots of forms. What are yours? Reach for them. Stay positive. Concentrate on your progress. Don’t let the negativity or the boasts of others get you down. Keep going toward your goal, whatever life throws at you. Rejoice at each small step. Goals can be met and exceeded. Just start and keep going.

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