Goals, "The Big Stuff," Our Dreams, and Our Visions --  these are what keep us going.  By using some time to reflect on your current year's objectives and establish goals for next year, simple, small intentions, derived from larger, long-term goals are the easiest to follow through on.

Here are some tips and pointers which will make this procedure as painless as possible. Use paper and pen or, if you feel more comfortable, your computer -- Whatever keeps those goal-setting juices flowing.

Now, without further procrastination -- perhaps get something warm to drink --  be honest and realize that the answers are for your eyes only.   Remember, it is best to try to do these steps in order, but moving amongst them also works.  Also, one page per step will  allow you to align answers from one step with those of another.

Step 1

What have I accomplished?  What have I achieved at work, in my personal life, as a parent?  Did someone or something inspire or intrigue you? Who or what was it?  Examine all aspects of your life and write down the "good news."

If you keep a personal "Book of Abundance," now is the time to pull that out.  Reflect and write.  Brainstorming requires loads of notes.  Try not to analyze; that will come later.  (Note: you might feel it is easier to jump ahead to step 2; if so, go for it.  However, do come back and complete step 1.)

Step 2

What were my biggest disappointments? (See, it is always easier to write out the negatives!)  What happened when they didn't behave as you had hoped?

Trust me, you'll feel better writing out these incidences and the release will give way to what's to come.  So, keep writing and moving on.

Step 3.

What did I learn?  Look at the answers to Step 1.  Review what you accomplished and look at what lessons you have learned.  What you have achieved is the greatest source of information.  What were the secrets of your successes?  Exactly why and what worked?  When you look at your disappointments (Step 2), do some role playing in your mind.  What could you have done differently?  What might have worked better?

Once you have finished, look over your list and find three things that would make the biggest difference, if you remembered them for next year.  Rewrite them as your own personal guidelines, like mini mantras.

For example, your guidelines might be:  Listen to my inner voice and trust it.  Make time for myself.  Stop avoiding what I know I ought to do and just do it!

Step 4.

How do I limit myself?  How can I stop doing so?  The object of Step 4 is to pinpoint those negative thoughts so that you can begin to loosen the grip they hold on your potential.   Some assumptions are good, e.g., "I've always been good at art."  However, many are limiting such as, "I'm just not the kind of person who'll make loads of money."

As you write your answers, listen to the messages you give yourself. When you identify these often subtle messages, you  can begin to wake up to the effects they have on you.

Now, look over your list of assumptions.  Which one do you feel has the strongest negative influence?  Which one assumption do you really believe?

Write out a new affirmation that knocks that old perception out of your mind.  Make sure the statement is positive, personal, and is stated in the present. And make it as exciting as you possibly can!

Step 5.

What are my personal values?  Our personal values provide the strongest motivation for change and for achieving the goals we want.  What values do you really want to live up to?

Examples should be stated simply, for example: integrity, honesty, compassion for others, and so on.  Think about what's most important to you in your life.  Write down the values that spur you on to behave the way that you do and be the person that you are.

Step 6.

What roles do I play in my life?  Make sure nothing gets left off the list; you'll use these roles as you plan the year ahead.  For example, these could include: daughter, mother, teacher, lover, friend, student and so on.

Include any role you are currently not playing but want to begin, such as: yoga practitioner, web designer, etc.

Step 7.

Which role is my major focus for next year?  Look at your list of roles. In which role do I want a breakthrough?  Which roles give me a sense of achievement?  What's the biggest impediment to my success and happiness, in that particular role, right now?

Select one role to focus your mind and energy on over the next year.  (I like to do this for each of my roles as it helps me focus in each area. See Step 8.)

Step 8.

Now you are ready to begin looking ahead.  What are my goals for each role? Take one at a time and write out what goals you would like to achieve.  Make the goals as small and specific as possible, be honest, and ALWAYS start with a verb or action word.

Losing twenty pounds is too overwhleming a goal.  However, exercising for fifteen minutes might be a goal we can all achieve on a daily basis.

You really have to want these goals.  And don't be afraid to delete any that you don't want badly enough to do whatever it takes to reach them.

Step 9.

What are my top ten goals for next year?  Choose those that will make the most difference to you. Try to get at least one goal from each role.  This will help you to balance and simplify your life.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, choose only ten goals.  Too many and you'll give up before you start.  Prioritizing  goals and roles leaves flexibility to move amongst the goals and roles.  Remember you can (and most likely will) focus on different goals and roles at different times during the upcoming year.

Step 10.

How can I make sure I achieve my goals?

Look at Step 3.  These are your guidelines.  By realizing what you learned from your mistakes, you have the road map to change negative behaviors.

Extract your new affirmations from Step 4.  Don't be afraid to write these out on Post-it Notes® or cards and place them where you'll see and remember them. Mini mantras are what you are seeking here.  You have to re-write the tapes you play inside your head.

Organize your major focus areas by using Step 7, which will help you organize your major roles in life.

Focus in on your top ten goals by listing them, as in Step 9.  Don't stop at just listing these goals.  Think of how you can work them into your everyday life.   Spending this time in contemplation and reflection will simplify your
future path. These easy steps will actually help you achieve the goals you desire and by using the  goals as  the big, overall design from which all other smaller intentions align.  It is with small steps that you will work
toward achieving your big goals.

Wake Up & Live!
Goal Setting 101
by Mary Wiseman
MARY WISEMAN is an educator and  multimedia designer with a passion for applying her skills to the international and/or intercultural educational realms, as she earns her Master's Degree in Media Studies, on-line, with The New School for Social Research (NYC).   Mary lives in Beijing, China with her daughter, where she is writing and illustrating her first children's book, Sammy and the Sofa Bug,  a story about nutrition and exercise.  Contact her at: mwiseman@isb.bj.edu.cn
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