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When we’re excited about our resolutions we want to GET OUT THERE & DO IT {but *m a y b e * this is the problem.} We need to take the time to plan effective goals that are going to get us where we want to be.

The enthusiasm & passion you experienced in the first exercise started your momentum.

imagine awakening with a sense of adventure like a kid

Imagine waking up every day excited rather than dreading the “work” it takes to keep your resolutions.

Yes, it is possible:

  • when what you do every day flows from a sense of purpose & your life values
  • when you know completing each goal gets you one step closer to the life you want to live
  • when achieving your goal proves you are all you can be – and gives you confidence for the next step

Setting SMART Goals

make smart goals

Start with Small SPECIFIC Goals to Gain Confidence

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Take a look at the list of resolutions you made in the last exercise. Choose ONE.

resolutions vs goals

Let’s break that resolution down to smaller stepping-stone goals like bricks in your wall of success.

For example: if you want to lose weight smaller goals would be to exercise & to eat healthy.

Take ONE stepping-stone goal and set an even smaller goal by asking “How?”

example of how to set small goals

When you can’t ask “how” again, you’ve reached a SPECIFIC goal that can be accomplished in a few days. This builds confidence and momentum to tackle the next stepping-stone goal.

Once that goal is accomplished, check back at the previous “how” on your list for the next goal.

examples of small goals

never underestimate a small goalDon’t doubt the power of a small goal.

It takes more energy to start something so the smaller the better – then you gain momentum to tackle bigger things.

You get the confidence that yes, you can do this.

You start to feel the excitement that you’re headed in the right direction, you’re getting closer to the finish line.

Remember that true motivation is the result of momentum – it’s a gift. You don’t have to spend money to get motivated, you simply need to get moving.
– Lewis Howes, author of The Ultimate Webinar Marketing Guide and LinkedWorking

Think about it: you just researched the best shoes & jogging clothes and bought them (or dug them out of the deep recesses of your closet), and you researched and mapped 3 different routes to jog the distance you want to go. When Monday morning rolls around aren’t you automatically going to grab those shoes & clothes and start jogging on your first route?

That’s momentum. You don’t even consider there’s a choice not to do it because you’ve chosen ahead of time to do it!

Isn’t it awesome? You start by doing bite-sized goals – so easy that you can’t fail – and it builds the momentum and the confidence you need to automatically start doing what appeared difficult!

Now before you run out and buy those jogging shoes – or perform that first small specific goal – let’s finish planning your goals to make sure you’re being SMART.


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Now is the time to move from “I can do that” to “should I do that?” How motivating is your chosen goal?

jogging motivation

Do you really want to jog 3 times a week? What is your gut telling you?

Are you excited to get out there and pound the pavement; feel the sweat, the muscles, the breathing; run to the beat of your music weaving through your neighborhood?


Are you cringing at the thought of crawling out of bed earlier every morning with sore muscles & aching knees, slogging through rain and snow just to lose a few measly pounds?

If you don’t feel motivated to do it now – on paper so to speak – this goal will never last.

Motivation is the fire in your belly that wants to get going – and going now.

  • If you feel that fire, write down all your reasons for wanting to complete your goal right now and keep it to read again and again to keep motivated.
  • If you don’t feel enthusiastic about working on that specific goal, its time to think of a replacement that does excite you.

If your goal fails the MOTIVATING test, start again with a new SPECIFIC goal. Instead of jogging, consider biking, swimming, training at a gym or cardio workouts at home with a DVD.

If you’re excited about your choice, it’s time to put it through another test.


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When we go on vacation, anticipation is half the fun. We can harness that power of excitement for a future start date on a goal, too.

anticipation increases focus and energy for your goal

When we circle a start date on the calendar anticipation creates excitement, building momentum BEFORE WE EVEN DO ANYTHING.

Think about it: in our example of jogging anticipation:

  • You’re so excited about jogging that you’re watching the mailbox for your shoes to arrive.
  • You have your first Monday run circled on the calendar before you’ve even started planning your routes.
  • You’re talking on the phone, over lunch to your co-worker or to your spouse about your plan to jog so much that they’re starting to roll their eyes – we’re talking about this again.

So . . . do you find yourself ANTICIPATING the start of your goal?

  • Are you so excited that you can’t help but talk about your goal to your family and friends?
  • Is it so real to you that you can actually visualize yourself & your life after you’ve completed your goal?
  • Do you have a start date written on your calendar while you’re doing the necessary planning?

Building anticipation helped me quit smoking after many failed attempts. If you find inspiration and want to do a goal, don’t start right away. Many of us will get excited and want to start today. That’s a mistake. Set a date in the future — a week or two, or even a month — and make that your Start Date. Mark it on the calendar. Get excited about that date. Make it the most important date in your life. In the meantime, start writing out a plan. Because by delaying your start, you are building anticipation, and increasing your focus and energy for your goal.
– Leo Babuta, author of the blog Zen Habits and book Zen Habits Handbook for Life

Here’s how to make your anticipation snowball!

Set a new, utterly breath-taking goal for you a few months down the road that requires you to complete the goal that you’re working on now. For our jogging example, you could train for a half marathon in 6 months.

So . . . if you find that you’re not talking to everyone about your big plan and if you’re not daydreaming about your goal, you’re probably not excited enough to follow through. Go back to the beginning and set a new SPECIFIC, MOTIVATING goal


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how realistic are your goals

We started this journey to change by listing 10 core values. We’ve discussed how focusing on those core values as we make effective far-reaching resolutions is key to actually seeing a change.

Wouldn’t it be awful – even shameful – to make goals contrary to our core values? It can happen. Quite easily.

Take our example of jogging. You’ve planned your route, arranged to have the right equipment, and set a start date. You’re enthusiastic about jogging. For awhile. Then you just can’t get motivated anymore. What happened? It sounded so good. It looked like something you could do.

But you forgot that you’re a people-person. Solitary pursuits aren’t really your style. It was doomed to fail, no matter how excited you were to do it, or how it aligns with your overall resolution.

You need to make sure your individual, specific, bite-sized goals align with your core values too.

If you included words like beingness, daring, discipline, drive, endurance, freedom, meticulousness, perseverance, precision, privacy, solitude, vigor, and wonder in your core values you would be more apt to be a person who would enjoy jogging than if you had words like camaraderie, connection, cordiality, extroversion, fluidity, friendliness, generosity, harmony, loyalty, popularity, sharing, silliness, spontaneity, teamwork, and wittiness in your core value clusters.

Do you see why? If you look at just one word on its own, some words don’t seem to apply to a person who would or would not enjoy jogging. For instance, a jogger can be witty but usually a person who lists wittiness as one of their 10 core values is a people-person – and when clustered with other people-oriented words they are more likely to enjoy an exercise class in a group setting than jogging on their own, day in and day out.

Go back to your list and look closely at your core value word clusters. What kind of picture are they painting? Let them inspire you to choose a REALISTIC goal that will truly motivate you as long as necessary – which could be a lifetime.

Want a reality check?

Watch how your family & friends respond when you discuss your goals. Even ask for their opinions.

Do those who are usually supportive – and know you well – think you can do it?

When I talked about losing weight everyone around me emphatically agreed and were highly supportive. They believed I could do it even though I had mega-pounds to lose. But if I told them I was going to lose weight by jogging every day – well, lets just say there would have been doubtful looks and screwed up faces. You know what I mean. Even if they didn’t want to say anything to dissuade me, they wouldn’t think it would last. And with good reason – it wouldn’t. I am a people person. I hate to walk the dog in bad weather – LOL. When I see women jogging and sweating in public, well, I just don’t want to do that.

Can you do it?

In our jogging example, it wouldn’t make sense to start off jogging 3 miles a day but sometimes when we’re excited about a project or goal we jump in with both feet and forget to take baby steps.

In fact, Leo Babuta suggests that there is power in holding ourselves back:

When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin’ to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It’s not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I’ve learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out — HOLD BACK. Don’t let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time.

For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I’m doing that mile, I’ll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don’t let myself.

After that workout, I’ll be looking forward to the next workout, when I’ll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

Think about it: If you jogged 3 miles a day but come home aching and zonked you’re going to be telling yourself “I can’t do this.” But if you hold yourself back – feeling like you could have gone so much further – you’re going to tell yourself “I can do more” which is a better confidence booster than “I can do this.” Just think of the powerful motivation you’ll be harnessing!

My reality check was that I had to start with aquafitness because I had a blood clot in my leg earlier that caused my leg to swell and become uncooperative without the buoyancy of the water. I had to start at a place where I could start. Savvy?

So – how REALISTIC is your goal? Do people who know you best believe this is your big chance to see your dreams come true? Are you sure you’re starting something you can start and starting where you should start to build momentum, confidence and enthusiasm?

How Are You Making Your Goal TRACKABLE?

smart goal progress bar 5

track your goalsWith long-term resolutions, using bite-sized specific goals is a fantastic way to help you really get to the end result.

However, the problem with small goals is that as we cross them off the list we usually forget them. As we’ve discussed, in order to build confidence for bigger goals and keep momentum motivating us we need to remember all these successes.

Leo Babuta shares his ideas:

Charting progress can be as simple as marking an X on your calendar, or creating a simple spreadsheet, or logging your goal online. It can be vastly rewarding to look back on your progress and see how far you’ve come, and it can help you to keep going — you know you don’t want to have too many days without an X! Now, you WILL have some bad marks on your chart and that’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

Here’s what I did:


My Wall Pops Dry Erase Self Adhesive Wall Calendar To be successful in accomplishing your New Years resolutions you need to make effective goals. Create goals that motivate, test them & get you where you want to go. 1 is the best organizational tool I have right now.

I came up with an idea that works better for me than check marks or crossing off items on a list.

I use Post-it Book Flags on my calendar.

Each color represents a different project or goal – it marks the start date and the date I work on that goal or project.

When I do that item on that day, I remove the flag which gives me a great sense of accomplishment. (I rip that baby off with flourish and do a victory dance as I drop it in the trash can. Yes! I did it.)

One glance at the calendar (and the color key at the side) shows me which items are NOT being done. (See the green tabs left on for several days?) Instead of being discouraged, I see a pattern early and can come up with a new strategy or new goal that better motivates me.

(See more of my home office organizational ideas with photos of my home office here.)

Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.
– Og Mandino, author of some of the most amazing books on successTo be successful in accomplishing your New Years resolutions you need to make effective goals. Create goals that motivate, test them & get you where you want to go. 2

Remember – goal setting is a continuous activity and not just a means to an end.

  • Chart your progress to make sure your smaller goals keep on track with your resolution.
  • Mark your calender to set aside time to review your goals.
  • After you achieve several smaller goals you may need to reassess the way you want to reach your resolution.
  • Make sure future goals are SMART and are truly stepping stones to where you want be and not time-wasters.

I hope this exercise helps you feel excited to work towards your goals.

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Series on Achieving Goals

This is the first article in our series on achieving goals in your life and living a life you love.

More Motivation

Read information & inspiration to find the motivation to keep working towards your goals in these articles:

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