Marjorie JamesWe have been given 365 days to, according to the conventional wisdom, make our dreams come true. We need to learn to be wise with our new beginnings. This is an add-on to last week’s posting that I hope will clarify goal-making and empower all of us as we go into this new year.

We usually feel a lot of pressure this time of year to come up with lofty goals. After all, isn’t that what new beginnings are all about, becoming better stewards of the time and talents we have? The problem, as I see it, is that our goals may not be reality-based. Then, when we don’t reach the goals, we feel like failures. Actually, the failure may have been in the goal-setting process itself.

Our goals should not be pressure points, so they should be achievable. I have talked about this before; we should be empowered by our goals, not defeated by them. A step-by-step process is preferable. Read that as making short-term, small steps toward the ultimate “big” goal. It is fun to check goals off. Little ones get checked off faster, and the sense of accomplishment brings confidence, which leads to accomplishing another goal, which leads to another goal. You get the point!

The steps we take today create the path we walk tomorrow. One person on a one-time journey does not create a path through the forest. It comes with repeated tromps, being retraced over and over again. This brings up another point.

We may set a small-step goal and not achieve it. Do we give up? We could, but if we do we have not learned this important lesson: Opportunities are situations cleverly disguised as problems. We need to analyze the reason we didn’t succeed, figure out what areas of our life we need to bolster, and then try, try again. We only fail when we quit trying.

Harkening back to a two-part series published on this website September 24 and October 1, we need to start with S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Then we need to do whatever we can to ensure that there is a fighting chance to achieve these goals. We need to identify and engage resources and support groups, if necessary, or come up with something (a word, saying, household item, radio or TV program) that will remind us of our commitment and to help us maximize our desire to succeed.

“Household item?” you ask. What about a poster, calendar, photo, kitchen gadget that you can pinpoint as the “go to” item when you are feeling down and defeated? This item can be the trigger to get you restarted in a way only you understand. It does not have to make sense to anyone else; it is YOUR inspiration! What “little” goal will you make today to get you started on your 2014 journey?

Copyright 2014. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.