7 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals in 2013

excited teens by Ambro freedigitalphotos.netIf you’re feeling like “a change would do you good” this year, what specific things would you like in your life to improve? Why has it been tough in the past to improve in that area?

This is the time of year when our New Year’s Resolutions may already start to be forgotten, or get pushed to the side as other more urgent matters come up. A friend of mine made what I thought was the best resolution:  to show more love. I’m sure his wife, kids and friends will be the happy recipients of his efforts and that better relationships will bring that love right back.

Many people have a goal to get more fit or to lose weight, and most of them will fall back into old habits. I read a few years ago that it only takes 21 days to make a new habit second nature. To that end, I got up and got on the treadmill for a workout for three straight weeks. I can tell you on day 22, I did not enjoy the workout any more, nor did I feel like it had become a natural habit. It took a force of my will do continue even a few days a week.

So I don’t believe in gimmicks when it comes to making changes. But I also think more change is possible than you think, in your relationships, skills, your body, your diet, or whatever you are hoping to improve.

As I was preparing this post, I read an article from The Generous Husband called You are going to change. Why choose now? He cites a study that concluded that we change a good deal more over time than we would have predicted. Looking back 10 years, you have probably changed a great deal more than you would have predicted back then. When I think about how different my husband and I were a decade ago, it makes me laugh. And you will probably be more different 10 years from now than you think you will be.  If you’re going to change, hopefully you will move in the right direction on the issues important to you.

Here are a few strategies that have worked well for me:

  1. Have clearly stated goals that are incremental. For example, “I will take my spouse out once a month” might be the first step toward infusing your marriage with more romance.
  2. Have an accountability partner. This is probably the most      important suggestion if you really want to get something done, at least it has worked very well for me. You will check in weekly or monthly with each of your goals and have to report whether or not you have done what you have said you will do. I suggest this partner would not be your spouse, but could be an encouraging friend who has something he or she also wants to achieve. Don’t pick someone who will make excuses right along with you and excuse your lack of effort. Even if you have a month that doesn’t go well, get back to your goals, and help one another get back on track. Celebrate small successes together.
  3. Put it on the schedule. It’s easy to overlook things on the schedule if you don’t have that accountability partner. Only schedule what you really intend to do. “Romantic evening with wife” or “hike with hubby” are things that may not happen if they are not on the calendar.
  4. Give focused time, then rewards. One procrastination expert I’ve read, Rita Emmett, suggests you select one thing to do for one hour. Ignore everything else going on during that hour. Take no breaks during that hour. Then, give yourself a small reward after one hour, such as a cup of coffee or a small break on Facebook. I’ve found this works quite well. We are so easily distracted; turn off email, phones and close your door during that hour.
  5. Make the first step easy. Then take the next step. For example, my friend might stock up on greeting cards or small gifts so he’s prepared to express his love when he has a few minutes. Taking a walk with a friend is an easy way to get started with improved fitness.
  6. Read and think about the issue you are working to improve. If you want a better marriage, read about strong marriages. If you want to lose weight, learn about nutrition and fitness. If you hope to deepen your faith, read the Bible or religious books. If you want a better job, study and practice the skills you will need to move up. If we spend all our complaining time focused on visualizing success, we will see more positive change by the end of 2013.
  7. When you come up short, start again. Don’t let your inner voice speak negatively.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Ambro courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net.

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7 responses to “7 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals in 2013

  1. Happy new year Lori!

    My target for 2013 is no more big giant goals but small incremental changes on the road to the better me. That means small steps, regular reviews and most of all being happy. I get too overwhelmed if I try to do everything at once. It’s got to be about concentration on a focus goal, take hede of progress and most of all keep smiling. That gets forgotten so fast in the new year and yet it’s the most important element given the fleeting nature of life. I hate looking back and thinking “why didn’t I enjoy that time more?” Well no more. So that’s my new years resolution. Still achieve but don’t miss the fun.

    Big love
    Grace

  2. Great point, I’m often so focused on my goals that I forget to enjoy the day and have fun! Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Pingback: 7 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals in 2013 - Why Men Pull Away

  4. It’s absolutely important to keep your goals or resolutions manageable and realistic in order to stick by them and thus make a better you in 2013. I read recently that it takes about 28 days, four weeks!, to develop new healthy habits. Whether it be jogging or walking or eating better. There are a lot of potential slip ups that could happen in those 28 days. That’s why it’s good to know that you will likely have a slip up and it’s good to know what steps you need to take to get back on the path you intended when you first set your goals. Keep things manageable, don’t try to tackle everything at once because this could become too overwhelming and lead to failure. I write little notes to myself that I keep in a jar to mark every success I’ve had towards my goals. Every few months I bring out the notes and remind myself of these successes and I make sure I haven’t strayed from the prize at the end of the year.

    • I like the idea of writing down your successes. We so quickly forget when we have achieved one goal and moved on to another. Thanks.

  5. Another great post, Lori :) I also think that forgiveness is a powerful and necessary tool to move forward with your life. For me, the first part of change is always accepting and letting go of my guilt, shame and regret over the issue. From there, I can approach change in a more objective and focused way. I wrote about it for Power of Two here: Practicing forgiveness for 2013

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