New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time! Most of the resolutions don’t last beyond the end of January. They are bound to fail. Resolutions are often not thought out, have no action steps and are rarely written down. They often lack specificity. Here are just a few examples of how to make goals better…
I want to lose 20 pounds by summer
NOT I want to lose weight
I want to earn $12,000 more each year by December
NOT I want to earn more
I will spend every Friday on a date night with my wife
NOT I want to spend more time with my wife
Did you know many gyms sell about 30% more memberships than the capacity of the gym? They know many people are not going to follow through on their desire for fitness.
There is – however – a way to achieve and exceed your goals.
Write them down
When I was young, I had goals and dreams like everybody else, but I didn’t write them down. For some reason, when we write our goals and take actionable steps, we are more likely to achieve them. I have goals in seven areas of my life:
Goals give you a starting point and destination. They are going to change as you grow and as you figure out what’s important in your life.
John Acuff, in his book Start, talks about how he has been able to write several books and also help build two schools in Vietnam. He didn’t write that down on a whiteboard several years ago, but as he progressed through his goals those opportunities became available.
Ten years ago, I would have never believed would write five books!
What are some of your goals? Would you like to schedule 20 gigs in the next year? Would you like to finish your master’s degree in the next three years? Do you want to find a spouse and be married with kids in a couple of years? Do you want to move to a better job that fits your skills and talents? These are attainable and will be different for everyone.
EVERYTHING you’ve done – even things you didn’t like – have made you who you are today. For me, the military band was a great experience. It is where I developed my chops. It was my music education. Being self-employed was difficult, but it helped make me who I am today. I learned a lot about marketing, about pricing, about what my audience needs and wants…all things that help me even in teaching.
There are many good books about setting goals. One of my favorite is Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love. My seven goals are adapted from his book. Get a copy of Dan’s book and work through the goal-setting process. Also read anything you can find by Zig Ziglar on goals.
In November, I create my goals for the following year. These big but specific and measurable goals are then translated into action items. I create a to-do list and prioritize the items – always remembering to leave margin in my life.
EVEN WHEN I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT, I begin to tackle items on my list. Sometimes just starting a task is the hardest part.
Put away all distractions. Turn off your email notification. Turn off your phone so you are not distracted by every text message that comes in.
Did you know that multi-tasking is a myth? We work at only 80% of capacity or less when trying to multi-task. When it’s time to book some gigs, write some music, practice, prepare my lessons or another important task, I turn off my cell phone, close my internet browser, shut down my email, get off of social media and get some focused work in. My rhythm – maybe because I am a public school teacher – seems to be about 45 minutes; then I need to take a short break and stretch or get some water. Others find that two-hour blocks work for them. Others prefer to work in intense 20-minute bursts. Find your rhythm.
Think of the short and long term goals as being a plan for your life. For example, if you want to lose 6 pounds in six months, that’s the big goal. The to-do list becomes the action steps necessary to meet that goal. In this example, you might get up thirty minutes earlier to exercise, prepare your lunch before you go to work so you’re not tempted to eat out, and buy some exercise shoes. Those are your action steps.
The goals that work best are:
If you can’t reach the goal, you will only become discouraged. If you are 200 pounds overweight, to lose that much weight in one year is probably not attainable. If you had zero gigs this year, deciding you want 300 in the next year is probably not attainable. If you have no college education at all, setting a goal of finishing your master’s in 18 months is probably not attainable. Here are some examples of good goals:
- I want to lose five pounds in the next six months.
- I will call five venues this week and every week.
- I will book five events this summer paying $200 each.
- I will save $2,000 this year by saving $200 per month.
- I will save $50 a month to purchase that new instrument in 20 months.
Sometimes I have accomplished 10% or more of my goals before the New Year even begins.
James is a middle school teacher, speaker, performer, and author. Check out his book The Saxophone Diaries: Stories and tips from my 30+ years in music. Or CONTACT JAMES to find out more about scheduling a speaking event.