Dreams, Resolutions, Goals: Can we make them stick… just once?!

by Dr Jennifer Ervin BVSc (Hons), Hill’s Technical Services Veterinarian

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

If you are like me, I bet you make resolutions while you are on holidays, no matter the time of year.  On holidays our minds are permitted to slow down, to think and to reflect.  I swear every time I am on holidays I make all these grand plans about how I will get more out of life and prioritise more time for things that I love….but alas within a week of being back in the rat race, they are a mournfully distant collection of seemingly unrealistic desires!

What do you hanker for? Adventure? To buy a home? Travel? Get healthy? Learn a language? Master a hobby? Pursue a new career path? Learn to surf? Take up yoga? Slow down or do more?

Whatever your resolutions are this January, there are a few tools that may increase your likelihood of actually achieving them!  And I, for one, am going to try and implement some of these tools in 2018…

Hang on … does that mean I already have a resolution for 2018 before I have even got started!?

We can start by turning our resolutions into defined goals in order to make them more concrete and therefore more realizable.  Setting defined goals is paramount to any long term and sustainable results.  

Whether your goals are big or small, you are far more likely to achieve them if you follow a few guidelines.  Obviously first you have to decide what your goals are! Will leave that to you…

Then, and this is important, you need to write them down and you need to tell someone about them.  Sounds simple enough, but the act of writing your goals down can be quite powerful, and if you do it well, it should help you break the goals down and thus help you plan how you will go about achieving them.  These guidelines are explained really nicely in this article which I think is worth reading:  http://www.actionforhappiness.org/take-action/set-your-goals-and-make-them-happen
1.jpeg (6)Have you heard about making your goals SMART?

When it comes to writing down your goals (whether they be big or small), utilizing the SMART principle is an effective way to ensure they are well defined.

SMART is actually an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Action Orientated (or Attainable), Realistic (or Relevant), and Timely. Whilst some of the letters have varying words assigned to them at times, SMART is a useful little formula that will help you set goals (and encourage you to get them down on paper) such that you are far more likely to achieve them.

For more on personal goal setting, visit https://www.mindtools.com/page6.html

Well, all that goal setting is good and well but…

Do you, like me, wish you had more than 24 hours in each day?

Despite all our collective wishing, there remains only 24 hours in each day.  Whether you feel time-poor professionally, personally or in all areas of your life, it is also well worth reflecting at this time of year on what is truly important to you and prioritising your time accordingly. This, in turn, can aid in empowering us to make those New Year’s resolutions easier to realise ☺

Many of you may be familiar with Steven Covey, who wrote “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, and his celebrated time management matrix.  Even so, I think it is still worth recalibrating frequently with his famed four quadrants in mind.  For those who have not heard of it, it is a thought provoking tool to help you better prioritise how you use your time. Covey’s time prioritisation method describes four quadrants: A. Important and Urgent, B. Important but Not Urgent, C. Not Important but Urgent and D. Neither Important nor Urgent.  

In fact, the orgins of the matrix comes from Eisenhower’s decision principle and sums the concept up very well.  Eisenhower famously said  “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” This principle guided his life and when you really think about it – it is so true!

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Take a look at the table to the right. How many of us spend way too much time in quandrants C and D and not nearly enough time in quandrant B!?  

It certainly is good food for thought.  

Check out this blog for a more detailed explanation and tips on how to apply to your life:

http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/2015/stephen-coveys-time-management-matrix-explained/

However, one thing is for sure: I hope to pick more daisies in 2018, just as Nadine Stair’s poem at age 85 sums up so well: http://www.unshod.org/pfbc/pfdaisies.htm

Enjoy her words of wisdom and Happy New Year!