Fall Forward: 7 Easy Ways to Guard Your Goals

FALL FORWARD1Can you believe August is almost gone?! With one more hurrah of a day, we will say goodbye to this month and say hello to a new season, literally and figuratively. It’s the inauguration of an academic year, the beginning of fall, and—as impossible as it is to believe—the start of the last fourth of the year. Do you remember eight months ago when you made those lofty goals for 2015? (And for those of you who don’t make New Year’s resolutions, insert the time when you last made goals HERE.) How are those goals coming? Hopefully well, but if they’re not, I’m with you. I’ve only held onto two out of the ten goals I made for this year. But I would love to open your eyes to the possibility of getting back on the bandwagon for this last stretch, the final lap of the race. (If only to use the glorious phrase, “Back on the bandwagon.” :) )

Goals are some of my favorite things. They compel me forward and keep me from complacency. In my ceaseless habit of goal-making, I have discovered some insights into goal-guarding. Here are the steps I’m taking to prevent unfulfilled ambitions. Care to join me?

Ways to Guard Your Goals:


1.Write Down Your Goals.

There is something so tangible about writing. Once the words in your head hit paper (or a note on your iPhone, or a document in Word), they’re somehow no longer ideas. Reality strikes and, voila! You have goals.

Example 1: Spend More Time with Friends. 

Example 2: Lose Weight. 


 

2. Set a Date/ Number.

“A goal without a date attached is just a dream.” -Michael Hyatt. Can I get an “amen?” Setting a date allows you to put your goals into actions. It’s the difference between saying, “I want to lose weight,” and, “I want to lose 8 pounds by December 31.” With that specific number in the front and the date trailing behind, you immediately can divvy that daunting goal into realistic, achievable steps. Now you know that you have to lose 2 pounds each month. That sounds much more doable, right?

Example 1: Spend More Time with Friends. 

Correction: Seek out coffee dates with two friends per week. 

Example 2: Lose Weight. 

Correction: Lose eight pounds by December 31. 


 

3. Keep Your Goals in Front of You.

Hiding that list of goals away does not motivate us to be faithful to completing that list, which will ultimately move us forward in fulfilling our dreams and purpose. (I’ve tried it.) If our goals are constantly in front of us, it will focus us. Just like a racehorse wears blinders in his race, we must keep our eyes on our goals as the finish line. Slap those goals where you know you’ll see them. Your mirror? Refrigerator? Steering wheel? Journal? All of the above?

Example 1: Seek out coffee dates with two friends per week.

I might place this on my calendar, and as my background on my phone. Then, I’ll always see it when I make plans.

Example 2: Lose eight pounds by December 31. 

I would put this on my mirror, my refrigerator, grocery list, and on my running shoes to inspire me to make good decisions.


 

4. Plan Your Action Steps

Decide what you need to do each month, week, or day to end up achieving your goals. You’re not going to lose those 2 pounds this month if you don’t change your dieting and exercising habits. Plan when you’ll add in those regular workouts, and make a grocery list of the foods you’ll buy.

Example 1: Seek out coffee dates with two friends per week.

Action Steps: 1. Reserve Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for time with friends. 

                        2. Contact friends on Sunday to make plans for Tuesday and Thursday. 

Example 2: Lose eight pounds by December 31. 

Action Steps: 1. Run two miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

                         2. Drink only water. 

                        3. Snack on veggies. 

                       4. Plan a cheat meal on the weekend. 

                       5. Reduce carb intake. 


 

5. Tell Someone.

The best way to keep me accountable to what I’ve set out to do is to tell someone who is actively invested in my life about my goals. It’s that person’s job to check in on my progress. Also, when I make decisions that move me toward or away from my goal, I will often imagine telling that person about those decisions, either to celebrate, or confess. Often, this helps me stick to those good choices, and, again, move toward my goals!

Example 1: Seek out coffee dates with two friends per week.

Confide in your best friend, sibling, parent, or significant other about your goal. Ask him or her to keep you accountable to dedicating those times to your coffee dates!

Example 2: Lose eight pounds by December 31. 

Once again, find that buddy who will check in on your eating habits, and whether or not you’re honoring your work outs. 


 

6. Reevaluate.

Set check-in dates to can evaluate your progress. This could be once a week, or once a month. At these reevaluations, you may need to adjust your action steps. Are you behind in your goals? Do you need to dedicate more time to accomplishing them? Do you need to set a new date, or reword those goals? Feel NO SHAME if you need to make changes. It’s much better to adjust than give up!

Example 1: Seek out coffee dates with two friends per week.

1. Reserve Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for time with friends. 

2. Contact friends on Sunday to make plans for Tuesday and ThursdaySunday seems too late to contact someone for the coming Tuesday. From now on, after my Tuesday coffee dates, I’ll call a friend for the following Tuesday, and repeat on Thursday.

Example 2: Lose eight pounds by December 31. 

1. Run two miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

2. Drink only water. Drink water and coffee without sweetener. 

3. Snack on only veggies AND fruit. 

4. Plan a cheat meal on the weekend. 

5. Reduce carb intake. 


 

7. Reward.

Discover what motivates you. For me, it’s getting to go to my favorite hipster movie theatre, a latte at Starbucks, a cute new dress, time with a friend, reading a book, or watching an episode of Parenthood (again). These rewards keep me moving. Studies show that we are much more likely to complete a task if there is a reward waiting for us! Choose something small or big (depending on the accomplishment!) Pick something small every day to look forward to, and something BIG when you hit those monthly action steps.

Example 1: Seek out coffee dates with two friends per week. 

Reward: Time with friends, AND coffee! I also plan a bit of introvert time after hang out sessions to reenergize myself. All of these rewards make me smile!

Example 2: Lose eight pounds by December 31. 

Daily reward: A tiny piece of chocolate after a run.

Big reward: New dress to celebrate my new size! 


 

Find the beauty in this new season. The year is not yet over, time is not lost! Let September be the month you jump into a goal, whether it’s a goal you named at the beginning of the year, or a goal you're setting right now. Let’s take this last day of August to plan it out!

Here's a chart to help you face those goals head on! :)


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