Do Happy: Pursue Fewer Goals

This post is republished with permission. Find more of Lori Deschene’s writing at tinybuddha.com. Read the original post here.

Goals

“The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed- it is a process of elimination.” ~Elbert Hubbard

A couple weeks back you probably wrote out a list of resolutions; that’s what people do when a new year approaches.  And that’s a wonderful idea.

According to research published in the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, people who explicitly set resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who don’t.

Perhaps your list addressed  multiple areas of your life–professional milestones you’d like to reach, objectives for your health and fitness, experiences you’d like to have.  If you’re a blogger, you may even have listed 50 things you’d like to achieve.  It’s a popular format in the world of online lists.

As impressive as all these plans look on a page–and as capable as you may be–you might find it difficult to follow through with all those good intentions.

As a culture, we tend to think more is better, but this mindset often sacrifices quality for quantity; never mind that it sets most of us up for failure.  When you overwhelm yourself with plans and information you’re likely to get overwhelmed and stop before you start.

Statistically, only 64 percent of people keep moving forward with their New Years resolutions into February; and only 46 keep going beyond the 6-month mark.  The rest slowly go back to what they’ve always done, perhaps recommitting when January comes again.

If you find yourself already losing steam or motivation–or if your past suggests you might do so eventually–now may be a great time to revamp that list you made.

Whittle it down to just a few key goals, making sure each of them is SMART (described in more detail here).  Break each one down into small steps, and spend a little time every day working toward each of them.

Staying focused and committed to a few objectives, and achieving your desired results will be far more fulfilling than making short strides multiple directions.

You may be surprised by how rich your life feels when you do less, but do it better.

Do happy. It’s something you’re due.


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My New Year’s What?….

We are now into the third week of the new year and the new decade.  We’ve survived an extremely cold spell that lasted longer than was expected and provoked both good and bad reactions from the public.  Now that we are back to fairly normal January weather, the nation is counting the cost, in terms of water supply disruption, school closures, loss of working days and damaged

Already week 3

roads.  We’ve even managed to get past the “most depressing day of the year” which is what the second Tuesday of January has been labelled by some psychologists.  It was gone before I even realised I’d missed it, and I had had a really good day too.

It is also the time of year when all those bright and shiny, well-intentioned new year resolutions start to lose their shine and begin to look more like dull and boring chores than intentions.  And what is worse for some, their friends have taken to their resolutions with gusto and love them, find them enjoyable and interesting. So if you don’t like your’s, to quit might well make you feel like a loser.  And for those that don’t want to look like “they’ve talked the talk, but don ‘t walk the walk” there is a desperation to find a reasonable way to inject some enthusiasm, or a way of renewing the energy and vitality that had you choosing that resolution in the first place.  Others will just quit and not feel too good about themselves, adding yet “another failure” to their belt of “things I’d like to do, but didn’t finish”.  So sit down and redo your list, only this time change the heading from resolutions to GOALS

So with that in mind I’ve listed some ideas to inject some enthusiasm back into your goals.


1.  Write down what you hoped to achieve by doing this.

There’s is absolutely no point in having a goal just for the sake of it, there has to be a benefit for you in it.  If it is something that you are giving up, list the benefits that will come from that. Focus on all the positive things that will result in it.

2. Break it down into steps.

stepping stones towards your goal

Anything is achievable if it is broken down into small manageable steps. Break your goal down into steps and give each step an end-date.  This way your end goal has stages a bit like steps on a ladder reaching to your destination.

3. Look at where you’ve moved to.

So often when we have a goal we look only at the outcome, and what we have to give up or do without to achieve them.  We often ignore the smaller stepping-stones to it.  At each stepping stone, acknowledge that you’ve moved forward and reward yourself with something that has nothing to do with your goal at all.

4. Make yourself accountable.

If you are one of those people who finds doing things you don’t like hard (and truth be told that is most of the world’s population) then enlist a buddy.  A buddy is someone to hold you accountable, to whom you would turn to for moral support when you find the going tough and to remind you to reward yourself when you finish a stage.

5. See yourself having achieved your goal.

See yourself as the “new you”, the person who has succeeded in completing their goal.  Listen to the people around you congratulate

See yourself reaching your goal

you, notice how proud of yourself you are.  Every time you feel like quitting, remind yourself of this, it will help to revive your energy to finish.

It is normal when going through a process of change to want to give up at some stage of it.  We find the going tough, but that is simply a test to see how serious we are about reaching that goal.  We often don’t want to go back to where we were either and can become stuck in a rut.  The feeling of failure of an unfinished goal only leads to negative emotions and limiting decisions, reinforcing self-doubt.  So instead follow the five steps above each and every time you feel your goals become a burden and inject renewed vigour into them.