In my second book, a self-help guide, I talk in detail about setting goals. I'd like to give a "mini" talk here on the things I've found useful. You can read my first blog entry on this topic, Goal-Setting for Beginners, to get a prelude of the book as well. All this material is taken from it.
First up, I'll give my take on New Year's resolutions and why I don't set them. If I do start off January with a goal, I make it something I can easily achieve, to build my confidence that I can tackle bigger dreams in the future. Already I know my resolution for 2008: to wear makeup when I go out on the weekends.
When I first started out in recovery, I had a simple plan: take showers five days a week. That was all I worked on until I made it happen, and then I set another goal. One thing that guided me through was to write down my objectives and what it would take to get there. I don't believe in rigid deadlines; I prefer to think in terms of a flexible date.
In my self-help book, I talk about what I call the PVC Factor: how our priorities, values and choices determine whether we succeed. First, I came up with five things I valued: health, confidence, education, career and creativity. I suggest you come up with no more than five imperative values to keep them manageable. Based on our values, we're going to make certain things a priority. Our life is in balance when we make the choices that reflect our values.
Here's how it goes: I typed out "Value: Education" and under that "Priority: Life-long learning." My Choices reflected this:
- Re-frame negative thoughts by using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
- Travel to other locales to expand my worldview and refresh my point of view.
- Utilize my research skills to gather information to use for my advocacy work.
- "Solo" in my careers as a writer, lecturer, and educator so that I can lean from others at the same time I advocate for them.
- Devote my energy to the positive dissemination and use of knowledge.
- Stay flexible and adaptable and open to change.
- Be computer-literate and use state-of-the-art technology.
I recommend you limit yourself to at the most seven or eight choices. Right now, when it comes to "health," I haven't met my goal of going to the gym three times per week. So that's something I need to work on, or revise the choice to two times a week. However, your choices generally will not change throughout your lifetime, or will do so only as you leave one era and embark on another.
My goals binder has everything typed up in it. On the covers, I inserted under the clear sheet quotes to motivate me. The PVC Factor starts off with my vision: "My goal in life is to use my writing to make things right. Through my words and actions I seek to inspire others to change for the better." I suggest you spend some time working on a mission statement for your life, too, and place it under the "Vision" heading. Then I typed up under that my "Motto/Guiding Principle": "Who cares what everyone else thinks. Be true to yourself." Spend some time creating your own motto, which can change over the years.