I’d say I’m a bit unusual in that I spend a lot of time setting a lot of goals for myself. I do it weekly, in fact.
Each week, I take a few minutes to reflect on the week that has passed and try to write down goals for the coming week in a little paper book I fold up and put in my pocket. The book itself is a simple origami move you can see in the video below from a site called Pocketmod.com that gives away free software to allow you to print these little books any way you please. That’s a bit much for me, so I just use the origami.
I’ve tried all sorts of systems, but I’ve found this one to work the best for my weekly goals. Even with an iPhone, and it’s omnipresence in my life, the stack of old origami books – one for each week, showing the goals and the to-do lists with the lines through them showing they were completed prove to me that I have made progress and am capable of changing and achieving things on those days when it’s tough going.
Those completed goals and to-dos with a line through them showing they were done have a magic power in them. They are not some platitude that rolls off the tongue saying: “You can do it, bunky!” They are REAL – honest-to-goodness “holy-shit-I-achieved-all-that” pile of little books in your drawer to remind you of what you can achieve.
If you’ve set goals in the past and find it doesn’t work, It might not be that you can’t achieve goals you set for yourself, but rather you don’t have a system for setting goals.
for example, here’s a few goals I wrote down in the booklet pictured above – I had 12:
- I Continue working on my comprehensive 2012 goals
- I have bought nothing for the remainder of 2012
- I only eat high quality food and only in moderation
- I am 205 lbs. on Jan 1, 2012
- I will go cold turkey on the nicotine lozenges and no longer use them in 2012
- I will forgive others their flaws but be relentless on my own
(You will note not all of these goals are weight-related – I am a deeply flawed individual)
I also create a page with the more mundane ‘to do’ list of stuff I gotta do like:
- Bring books back to library
- Call Verizon about screwed up bill
I also have a page for my shopping list, and one I call ‘waiting for’ – used to remind me of stuff I ordered and am waiting for delivery, or something I loaned someone and am waiting for it back.
I check the book every day for the week and go through the goals, just to remind myself what they were. Some of them are long-term goals – those I just try to maintain during the week. Some are short-term goals and can get crossed out if I achieve them.
I do the same for all the other categories.
Each weekend, I review my little book, remove the goals I achieved, copy into the new book for the coming week those goals I want to continue to work at, and sometimes drop a goal entirely – perhaps something has changed and it doesn’t make sense right now.
I also set new goals that might have come up in the past week, or modify an existing goal to be more realistic.
Here’s the deal, the really important part: I mentioned before that I had written down 12 goals – I might have achieved 3.
It doesn’t matter that I failed 9. I achieved 3. I set out to achieve 3 things in one week and did them.
If I do that in one week – how many things does that mean I can achieve in 52 weeks?
Some of the other goals may not have been realistic. Maybe they were realistic, but it was the wrong time. Maybe I just failed.
I then review those goals I am still interested in achieving and put them in my next week’s book.
I’m not perfect – not by a long shot, which is why I do this. Backsliding does occur, and then the goal I achieved then unachieved goes back on the goal list.
This system is not perfect, either, but it does allow me to focus on self-improvement for a reasonable but not obsessive amount of time during the week, and does help me keep track of the things I want to achieve as well as what I HAVE achieved.
So, if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution with a little more power to it than ‘lose some weight’ – or if you are the type that doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions, perhaps you’d like to give this a whirl.