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3 Steps to Keep at Your Goals

December 27, 2013 by  
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Wow! Can you believe it … only a matter of days and 2013 is history! I don’t know about you but I swear every year passes by faster than the year before and when I was a kid they seemed to drag by at a snail’s pace.  And now as we face a new year most of us start thinking pretty much the same thoughts: What might we be able to accomplish in the next year. If you’re like me, you also look back at the year just finished to see where you were successful and where you fell short.

Now, though, it is mostly about setting goals and making specific plans as how to reach those goals.  Those goals usually involve money and business success with many of us, especially those of us that are a bit older and want to live life to the very fullest, also setting goals that revolve around health, weight and fitness. However, there is usually one very big problem–those goals that we set usually get dropped, forgotten, or pushed aside after 2 months (or less!)  Why is that and is there a way to not let that happen?  From my experience and from my reading and research there is an answer and the key is taking these three steps:

Step 1: This is critically important–you must WRITE the goals down and be sure to REVIEW them often, at least once a week although it would be better if it was every day, especially after the first or 2nd month or if you see that you are slipping.

Step 2: Share your goals with family and friends or others that want to accomplish similar things.  You see, when you let others know what you are trying to do they can give you support and remind you to stay on course. They can be your cheerleaders and even give you a bit of a hard time when they see you falling short of your goals. Yes, that kind of support can sting a little but it can also motivate you to show them you can succeed. Not sure these methods of support will work? Just look at the great success that AA has had by having regular meetings with all those in the room having the same goals and sharing their successes and failures with each other.

Step 3: Read and re-read books, articles and blogs that motivate you and remind you to keep on track. Just a few relevant words at the right time can really kick things back into full gear for you.

When I follow these 3 steps I find that I can stick with my goals for the entire year and I am pretty sure it will work for you too. So, for your first goal of the year I suggest this: Give these 3 steps a try and see if it doesn’t bring you great success with your goals!

 

The Gift of Appreciation

December 20, 2013 by  
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What a great time of the year this is!  It’s a season of celebrations with family and friends with all that wonderful music that usually brings back many special memories.  To me, though, it’s mostly about giving. Okay, yes, as a kid it was mostly about receiving but that was a very long time ago!

Giving returns so many super wonderful feelings in such a big way to the giver, sometimes to the point that the giver feels guilty for getting such great feelings as a reward.  Just yesterday I experienced that twinge of guilt after I had done a very small thing.

As I came out of a mall I saw two young ladies, probably in their  early to mid-20’s, sitting on a little wall taking a break from one of the shops that obviously worked at in the mall.  As I walked by I handed each of them a 2 dollar bill, saying “This is for luck. Don’t spend it.  Just keep it for luck.”  I usually give these to kids between 6 and 8 years old and watch their excited reaction and joy.  It is one of my favorite giving things to do. But I guess in this case, since I was struck by the season of giving we are in, I handed these to the young ladies without thinking.  Both girls said “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t accept this,” and I replied, “Give it to a kid and watch the big smile on their face.”

Reluctantly they accepted.  Then they began to thank me as if I’d given them $100 dollar bills.

As I started to walk away they asked, “Hey, where are you from?” and I said “Oh, I’m from here but I grew up in the Middle East, in the country of Turkey.” And then, of course, I had to lay a little Turkish on them, what little I remember. One of the girls surprised me by answering back in Arabic (the two languages have a lot of common words) and then they explained they were from Israel and they’d learned a little Arabic. So we had something in common.

As I walked toward my car I began thinking how their great appreciation for my very small gift made me feel so good.  I realized that “appreciation” is really a gift too and often a big and glorious gift.  Feeling a little connected to these young ladies and warmed by their great appreciation and friendliness, I got in my car and drove back to where they sat, giving both of them a copy of my latest book. Wow … talk about receiving a huge gift back! Their appreciative words and genuine feelings absolutely overwhelmed me.  You would have thought I’d given them a million dollars–calling me an angel from heaven and thanking me to the point that their appreciation was almost embarrassing.

What did I really take away from this experience though?  I realized that the biggest gifts any of us can give are not objects or anything you can put a price tag on, but gifts of love and appreciation. These things, without a doubt, last longer than any gift wrapped present. At this special time of year let’s all try to give more and return more with our sincere appreciation!!

The Magic of Small Steps

December 13, 2013 by  
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Everything you do is comprised of many small steps, tasks and moments. As mentioned last week, if you can break down your goals into these very small steps and just aim to accomplish each small thing, one at a time, you are more likely to be successful and will avoid feeling overwhelmed. Let’s take a goal that is on a lot of people’s minds this time of year—not gaining weight through the holidays. Whether you want to avoid gaining those holiday pounds or want to actually lose weight, here’s the thing you should try because it really does work!

Let’s say you’ve decided to set a goal to get back to your high school weight and stay there the rest of your life (and I do believe it’s always a better to set a permanent goal rather than just saying you’re going to lose X number of pounds which can be perceived as temporary). Once you have your big weight loss goal set, push it out of your mind and begin working on what it will take just TODAY or just THIS HOUR or just THIS MINUTE to keep moving towards that goal. And when you have gotten through that day or hour or minute (not doubt successfully!) do the same for the next small increment you know you can meet.

Taking on only small goals is about setting small time frames as well as small, easy to accomplish tasks. For instance, one trick that studies suggest is very effective when it comes to setting super small, short goals while at the same time building self-discipline is to not completely deny yourself the thing you want but rather, delay it. Say you have decided that you are not going to snack between meals but now it’s an hour before dinner and you are craving a treat that’s calling your name and the craving is driving you nuts. What you do is say to yourself “Ok. I’m going to give in and allow myself to have that treat BUT I’m going to wait 15 more minutes.” If you are like most people who have tried this you’ll start watching the clock and counting down the minutes, but when the 15 minutes have passed you’ll no doubt feel quite good about yourself and your self-discipline. That in itself is a treat and a reward. You have proved to yourself that you can in fact postpone a little pleasure so why not try another 15 minute delay in gratification? And after that 15 minutes do another and another till it’s time to eat dinner and you may or may not even desire that treat after a good well balanced meal.

You can do this same delay technique when you want to take a break from your work out or stop working for the day or crave a cigarette. Just give yourself small time goals to get past and see yourself get through the trying time with relative ease.

Using super small goals and steps can and will work especially if you practice breaking your goals down to manageable small items or blocks of time and do this every day. Try this on multiple types of goals that you set for yourself and you’ll see just how much you can accomplish one small step at a time.

 

Balancing Big Goals with Small Steps

December 8, 2013 by  
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Last August I wrote a blog titled “The Biggest Leap is the Small step of Getting Started“. In that blog I said a good way to stick with a particular tough goal is to kind of trick yourself by saying, “Ok, I might not be in the mood to do this right now so I think I will just spend 5 minutes with this project,” and all the time you know that there is a very good chance once you start the project you probably will keep going beyond the 5 minutes.  I know this sure works for me when I don’t feel like climbing on the stair master or the elliptical or any other exercise I know that I should do.

The “small step” method really does help a person stick with their goals, so I was somewhat bothered when I re-read my blog of November 2012 and looked at the huge printed sign that I had reproduced in the blog that said “Set a goal SO BIG that you can’t achieve it until YOU GROW INTO THE PERSON WHO CAN”.  I began to question myself for putting that quote on my blog.  Here’s why I question myself now, at least to a degree:  You see, if you set your goal way too high, your goal may scare you and you may begin thinking “There is just no way I can achieve something so big.” But I do believe there is a way around the problem that can allow you to set huge goals and be able to achieve them.

The great thing about setting big goals is that they can stimulate and excite our brains and body to keep pursuing what we set out to do. So, although it’s important for the brain to set big goals, the trick is to not set them so big that deep inside your mind you really feel you could never achieve them.

The real key here–and there is research to back this up–is to set the big goals that excite you to action then put aside that big picture and think about and work on the small daily or hourly goals that give you many small steps of achievement towards that big goal.  Keep telling yourself that you only have to reach “today’s goals” and remind yourself how good that is making you feel.

To quote David DiSalvo from his great book What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, “The happy brain tends to focus on the short term.  That being the case, it’s a good idea to consider what short-term goals we can accomplish that will eventually lead to accomplishing long-term goals.”

I’ve been doing just that lately.  I concentrate on just today or, sometimes, just this hour or minute and for the most part I try to totally forget my big goal. That usually gives my brain plenty of rewards and comfort.

Next week I will give what I think is the perfect example for losing weight–since it is the time of year that most people do the opposite—and when you read it, keep in mind you’ll do this one small, easy step at a time.