A secret to happiness: Plan for it!

Greg Gurev
Guest Columnist

Head Sherpa’s Dispatch

Every year, many of us make a New Year’s resolution for personal improvement. Maybe we resolve to spend more quality time with family, to work fewer hours or to lose weight. Generally we resolve to have a better life, to somehow feel more fulfilled, be happier. A lucky few of us who attain some of what we resolve feel very gratified to check something off the list.

A new year equals a fresh start, a new opportunity to accomplish something. Right? But the goal setting is the easy part. Without any real follow-through, a New Year’s resolution can quickly yield to life’s demands. Poof! Ah, well, there’s always next New Year’s Eve.

Hold the phone! What’s the follow-through look like?

The follow-through is a means of defining that New Year’s resolution and ways to attain it. Once you spell it out, it doesn’t seem as unobtainable as before. Using a goals attainment system will help you implement and track your progress. Each success will help you to tackle the next goal, and accomplishing goals generates a positive outlook and a feeling of wellbeing. THAT translates into happiness, no matter what your resolution!

How to get started:

  • Define your goal. Is it specific and relevant? Will the benefit provide sufficient motivation for you to continue?
  • Plan and implement actionable items. How and when will you perform tasks?
  • Track and measure progress on a set timeline. Is the goal still important to you? Do you feel positive about your results?

Write down just four goals for the year. (You can always add more later.) Then, assign a goal to each quarter of the year. Finally, choose a personal system to help you stay on track and measure your success. This is where technology can be indispensible! You can use recurring calendar items in Outlook or Google Calendar or an app on your smart phone for goal planning and tracking, such as Cove – Goal Setting and Tracking or GoalsOnTrack.

If physical fitness is among your goals, you may want to try MyFitnessPal, an app designed specifically for losing weight, or Couch-to-5K, an app geared toward amateur runners training for a 5K race. The key to achieving goals is reviewing your progress frequently and not getting completely derailed if you get a little off track. 

Keep your goals in front of you. Talk about them with your family at dinner. Display the goal for you to see at your desk. Place a copy in your wallet as a gentle reminder of what you are accomplishing.

Achieving your goals is a process that is best done incrementally. Just as “slow and steady wins the race,” you can create a lasting habit by integrating it into an everyday repertoire and build upon your successes.

It’s a new year! Put a personal goal attainment system in place now. You will have the entire year to feel good about your first successfully attained goal!

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