Activated - - NEWS - By Jessie Richards

It’s a clichéd ré­sumé line, but I’m a goal-ori­ented per­son. For as long as I can re­mem­ber, I’ve set goals, and in par­tic­u­lar New Year’s goals, and then worked to achieve them. A lot of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions fail be­cause they’re just things peo­ple say while caught up in a mo­ment of pas­sion (or guilt), only to soon for­get or ig­nore. That isn’t the case for me. How­ever, I have learned that I tend to be overly am­bi­tious. I reach some goals, but still end up dis­cour­aged, or some­times reach goals that were semi-im­por­tant but not the most im­por­tant ones. It isn’t be­cause I don’t keep my goals in mind and work to­ward them con­sis­tently, but be­cause I fail to plan re­al­is­ti­cally, fac­tor­ing in my own lim­i­ta­tions or build­ing in enough time for “just liv­ing life.”

I re­cently re­viewed my past eight years’ worth of res­o­lu­tions, which have usu­ally been a com­bi­na­tion of work ac­com­plish­ments, fit­ness achieve­ments, places I wanted to go, and things I wanted to learn or be­come more pro­fi­cient at. Year One

I set ten goals and only fully ful­filled two of them. Then there were sev­eral that I worked to­ward and got pretty close—for ex­am­ple, I planned to run 1,000 kilo­me­ters dur­ing the year, and I ran 850.

Some­thing in­ter­est­ing I no­ticed when re­view­ing my goals at the end of the year was that I had told a lot of peo­ple about the two I ful­filled, which of course then spurred me to fol­low through.

Some­thing else that stood out was that there were at least two items on my list where I re­al­ized later that I don’t re­ally want to do that any­more, or won­dered, How did that get on the list? Whims, not goals. Year Two

In an at­tempt to learn from the pre­vi­ous year, I told my­self I would “only set one or two goals per cat­e­gory.” But I some­how ended up with six cat­e­gories and eight goals. And those were all per­sonal, so a few months into the year, I added seven work goals. So my to­tal of 15 goals was even more than the year be­fore.

I made a very spe­cific rule for my goals this time, though, which was: If it’s not spe­cific and mea­sur­able, it can’t go on the list. That must have helped, be­cause I hit 11 of the 15.

Year Three

In an­other at­tempt to im­prove my meth­ods, I de­cided to fo­cus on one big over­ar­ch­ing goal. There were, of course, sub-goals un­der that (16 of them); but they were all con­nected and or­ga­nized in a step-by-step style, and it mostly worked. Well, I hit nine. But the progress was valid and I was happy with it. Year Four

I set six goals. Hit five. I did a few things dif­fer­ently from pre­vi­ous years:

I took time ev­ery quar­ter to re­view my goals and progress.

I kept an on­go­ing list of all my ac­com­plish­ments, both work and per­sonal.

I made a “stop do­ing” list—this was a rev­e­la­tion! I read it some­where and it made so much sense. In or­der to give my­self more time for the things I wanted to do, I re­al­ized I had to free up time from some­where, and I’m happy to say I was suc­cess­ful in dis­con­tin­u­ing the three things I de­cided to stop do­ing. Year Five

The re­al­i­ties of life made my goals fairly easy that year—there were two big­gies that weren’t op­tional—get a new job and get a new apart­ment— and I achieved them.

Then, of course, I had to go and set my­self some op­tional ones. There were six. I hit three. Year Six

I changed the name of my list, from “New Year’s goals” to “What I want this year.” (I also spelled out “the means” of how to get them, when­ever pos­si­ble.)

I wanted nine things. I got six of them. Year Seven

Again I went with the “what I want” list. I kept to two pri­mary goals; but to ful­fill them would take seven of what I called “sup­port sys­tem” goals. Three of the seven went well, and they were the ones most im­por­tant to me. But I didn’t fully re­al­ize ei­ther of the top two. I bit off more than I could chew, even with two—they were too big. Year Eight—the Present

A quick re­cap shows me clearly that as much as I try to be re­al­is­tic, I al­ways over­reach. If I set 10 goals, I’ll per­haps meet seven. If I set six, I’ll prob­a­bly meet three. If I set three, I’ll meet one or two.

So this year I’m go­ing with what I think is a bril­liant plan: Just. One. Goal. There will be no way around it—it will be reached. With only one ob­jec­tive in sight, I am cer­tain to fo­cus, be in­ten­tional, and achieve it.

I still have my “bucket list,” which I reg­u­larly add to, and there’s no limit on en­tries for that (cur­rently over 40!). They don’t have an ex­piry date of the end of the year, though—and any­way, de­sir­ing and dream­ing are free. Achiev­ing goals, on the other hand, takes clar­ity, fo­cus, time, ef­fort, and a healthy dose of re­al­ism.

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