Advice for Setting Your Goals

This year, I am going to…

  • eat more healthfully!
  • lose twenty pounds!
  • stop smoking!
  • save more money!

Sound familiar?

New Year’s is the time of year when many people reflect on the year that is ending and set goals for themselves for the coming year. Research has shown that while almost half of Americans set New Year’s resolutions, only 8% of them are successful at achieving them!

So why set them?

In order to be successful in the world, we need to have clearly defined goals. Specifically, we need to know who we are and what we want to accomplish in our relationships, at work, and within ourselves. When we know what we want, we are more likely to change our behavior to get it; being goal-directed helps keep our behavior and choices on track.

When I first mention goal setting to my patients, they generally look at me with blank stares or mutter something vague about a career or money. Goal setting is not for some far-off dream. It is for now, and it is very specific. Making goals that you can focus on daily will make a big difference in your life.

I have my patients do a goal-setting exercise I developed called the One-Page Miracle (OPM).  In studying successful children and adults, I have found that the one thing they have in common is a sense of personal responsibility and clear goals. The OPM will help guide nearly all of your thoughts, words, and actions. I’ve seen this exercise quickly focus and change many people.

Do NOT try to do this exercise in your head – you MUST write it down. The act of writing it down creates a greater connection between your thinking self and your doing self and makes it appear more real than if you simply think it in your head.

Here’s how to develop your own OPM. Take one sheet of paper and clearly write the following main headings and subheadings:

RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse/lover

Children

Extended family

Friends

WORK

MONEY

Short-term goals

Long-term goals

SELF

Body

Mind

Spirit

 

Next to each subheading, briefly write out what’s important to you in that area; write what you want, not what you don’t want. Be positive and use the first person. Write what you want with confidence and the expectation that you will make it happen.

After you complete this exercise put it up where you can see and read it every day. It is a great idea to start the day off each day by reading your OPM to get focused on what really matters to you. Then before you do or say something, ask yourself if your potential behavior fits your goals. In that way, you focus your eyes every day on what’s important to you. Your life becomes more conscious and you spend your energy on goals that are important to you.

Tell your brain what you want and your brain will help you match your behavior to get it!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
French writer (1900 – 1944)

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