Have you ever started the year with a sizable list of goals to complete by the next time the ball drops in Time Square? Goals are great. They are hard work and take repetition. If you don’t have a goal, you tend to live life haphazardly. Whatever life brings, you react and go with it.
I lived most of my life without a focus and reacting to life challenges. In some unpredictable circumstances it’s how we must be. I’m challenging you as you read this article to explore making goals by intentional design.
We all have tried New Year’s Resolutions. When you look back on them, how far has that gotten you? I know some friends that have accomplished their resolutions. I’m impressed by those friends.
Most of us think back to when we made resolutions and get an overwhelming feeling of failure. One year my supervisor at work had us write down where we wanted to be at the same time, one year in the future. We sealed the envelopes, and she kept them for us, handing them back when the year was up.
Most of us couldn’t remember what we had written down, nor had we made much progress toward accomplishing the goal. We hadn’t made it a priority, so it became forgotten. Goals for the new year can start out a priority, but then what happens?
Here’s a new twist to New Year’s Resolutions 2024. What if you took one goal that meant a lot to you and decided that was it for the year?
Start by defining it clearly. When you get to the end of the year, what is it that you want to be different in your life? Get as specific as possible. Saying “I want to eat healthy by next Christmas” is too broad. How about chunking it way down to something like…
“I will research and then put into action limiting my sugar intake daily until next Christmas.”
If you had that as your ONE and only goal, would you feel more motivated? Having one goal prioritizes it and helps you remember to work on it throughout the year.
Did I mention that accomplishing goals and making them permanent is hard work? One goal at a time will help you focus and work hard toward it.
Researchers found that people who tried to accomplish multiple goals were less committed and less likely to succeed than those who focused on a single goal. If you accomplish your ONE goal before the end of the year, good for you! Then it’s time to set ONE goal going forward until you feel you have accomplished that one.
Another way to do this is with your vision board. Every year, my friends and I get together to construct a visual of what we would like life to look like at the end of that year. Visually, it helps us stay on track. We have a glass of wine, search through magazines for phrases or pictures that depict our best year ahead.
These tag boards showcase pictures of vacations, travel spots, exercise clothes, couples enjoying dinner, pictures of money and so much more. Every tag board has a different look by the time we are finished searching, cutting, and pasting our personal visuals.
We share with the group what each picture or phrase means to us. Yes, some pictures carry over to the next vision board party because they have yet to be attained. Surprisingly, we all have hit the mark on most of our vision board goals. This is a powerful way of approaching the year ahead.
This year, I’m encouraging my friends to give thought to expound on ONE goal with pictures and phrases about that one thing. It would laser focus and clarify everything. Let’s take the goal of eating healthy by next Christmas. The pictures would show heathy food choices, sugar with an X over it, cookbooks, meals at restaurants, all centered around the goal.
James Clear, author of the bestseller Atomic Habits, says it so well:
“The best way to change your entire life is by not changing your entire life. Focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat this process on the next habit.”
My son recently shared with me that his marriage changed when he took this phrase to heart, “Where your focus is, your heart will be.” He said he began to focus on his wife. He thought about what she needed, what would help her, and how much he loved her. This changed their relationship, and as an outsider looking in, it shows. His heart followed his focus.
Can we apply this to our one goal? Yes, absolutely. George Lucas put it this way, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”
Our world is overwhelming if we let it be. Work, kids, home, food, money… it’s a balancing act to keep everything straight and organized in our brains. Be sure to take time to slow down enough to think about ONE thing you want to achieve in the year 2024. One important life changing thing.
Then set your path and take a whole year to get there. This can be as simple as getting up a half hour earlier to enjoy the calm before your day starts. It can be as complex as finding a new job.
If you do a vision board, keep it handy to view. Remind yourself that you have ONE goal, and you are taking steps to get there. You will thank yourself for being so smart when you once again watch the ball drop at Time Square.
Are you a goals and resolutions person? What are your goals for 2024? Have you considered focusing on only ONE goal for an entire year? If you’d like to give it a try, what would your one goal be?