Those that know me know that before the first day of the New Year comes, you better believe I’ll have a crisp sheet of paper on my bulletin board with all the things I’d like to achieve in the coming year. Some call them New Year resolutions; I just call them yearly goals. Regardless, I’d feel a bit lost without them – like I’m working hard, but not getting where I want to be. Goals are like a road map to help guide your journey to the destination of your heart’s desire.
Adults that are in or approaching retirement might think they’ve already reached their destination, and therefore won’t really benefit from goals anymore. While you may have reached your retirement destination, a whole new journey is just beginning. Without a road map for this new journey, the days, weeks and years might pass you by- leaving you wondering where your time has gone and what happened to all those things you wanted to do after retiring.
Take some time to think about what you really want out of the next year or two (or five)! Keep in mind the importance of staying mentally and physically active, as well as eating fresh foods and scheduling regular checkups; these are items that should be on everyone’s list of goals. Try to incorporate those items into your goals by looking into to social clubs that involve your hobby, participating in a charity walk or signing up for a cooking class.
Successful Goal Setting
Be Specific – Don’t generalize about your goals, state specifically what you want. For example: I want to run a marathon. I want to sail a boat across Lake Michigan. I want to improve the relationship with my grandchild. I want to learn how to waltz. I want to volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program.
Make it Measurable – Putting dates, times and amounts on goals can help narrow the focus and measure achievement. For example: I want to sail a boat across Lake Michigan by December 31, 2012. I want to volunteer monthly for the Meals on Wheels program. This will help you know exactly when you’ve achieved the goal so you can reap the reward and pat yourself on the back.
Attainability is Key – Set realistic goals you can achieve. If you base your goals on your own performance or things more within your control, like running an eight minute mile, you are more likely to achieve them. However, if you base them on outcomes like winning the race, several other factors can come into play – such as bad weather or an injury.
Remember to Reward – Take the time to soak in the achievement of reaching the goal and reward yourself appropriately. Review the experience of achieving it to help you decide if the goal was too easy or too hard, and to consider what you learned in the process; this helps build self-confidence and motivation for future goal-setting. For example: I’ve completed the marathon and now I will reward myself with a day at the spa. I learned to waltz and now I will reward myself with some dancing shoes.
Keep it Trackable – Once you’ve defined your goals, break them down into smaller bits to track how you will achieve them. This will help you trace your steps and adjust accordingly along the way. For example: I will read a book to learn about sailing terms by February 1. I will take a navigation course by March 1. I will take sailing lessons all summer. I will find a boat to rent by July 1. I will schedule my sailing trip in the month of September.
Setting goals helps you organize your time and resources so you can make the most of your life. Goals don’t have to be all about going and doing, sometimes goals can be about relaxing and enjoying. Believe it or not, sometimes we have to set a goal to meditate for a few minutes a day just to keep our sanity!
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