I have long ago ditched writing new year’s resolutions simply because I tend to digress and go back to the old ways in a matter of weeks. In lieu, I identified goals to focus on in selected areas of my life. If I happen to forget or do less in any of the goals, I would be reminded as the Christmas season approaches. In the Philippines the season starts when the month ends in ber – as in September. That means four months to work on and catch up.
In 2014 I identified five blocks of goals to attain. As I reviewed and evaluated the results, I felt satisfied with the moderate accomplishments in three areas. The first was writing, where I have attained more than half of my targets. I am also happy with the books I have read for the year. Travel was the most exciting area for me because other than my usual places in the region (Southeast Asia), I was able to visit China, France and Germany!
The area I need to improve is fitness. I regularly exercise when I was in Yangon, but when I transferred to Hpa-an in Kayin State, I have to adjust. Instead of physical exercise, I went on a diet program that chopped almost 5 kilos off my body by mid-December! I was very happy to let go of the load. However, the array of holiday foods during the Christmas season hastened the revenge of the bulge and I gained back some kilos. This is the reverse of the catch-up mechanism and it seems that letting yourself get carried away will also give you unwanted results. Now, this justified the inclusion of fitness (again!) to the targets for 2015.
The last area is a disappointment for me. I enrolled in a graduate school, but was met with two challenges. The first was the start of field work which limited my number of days in Yangon, and thus my opportunity to continue my studies. The other reason is the problem with the accreditation of the school where I am enrolled. I enjoyed being a student again but it seemed last year was not the right time for me.
I am now doing the goals for 2015, and to share what I have learned, I summarized setting goals in five simple and easy ways:
1. Identify main areas in your life to work on. These may include work, health, faith, finance, etc. The fewer, the better and more manageable. As much as possible not more than five. The goal is to improve the areas identified and contribute to your overall well-being. List down these areas.
2. Designate specific activities for each area. It means determining an activity or a series of activities that will top up significant change in the main areas. The activities should be quantified in terms of number, frequency or the volume of outputs. Examples: number of articles written, one chapter of the Bible read every day, loss of 1 kilo each month, etc. One area may have several activities related to it. Do not forget to write down these targets!
3. Set aside time to do the activity/ies. Opposite each activity write the period when it is to be done. Daily jogging, reading before/after office hours, once a month travel out of town, these are but some of the examples of setting aside time. Get a calendar and mark down the dates and the corresponding activities scheduled. This will ensure that the activities will not overlap with your regular work and other schedules.
4. Measure along the way. Set milestones and schedule a regular review to check if you are on track. I suggest a monthly and a quarterly review. Write the results after each review. It is nice to see 60% of the targets attained in June, or it may push you do double time if it is only 50% attained in September.
5. 5. Adjust activities. After each quarterly review adjust your activities and focus on the areas or activities that are lagging behind.
Finally, celebrate! For each goal attained, treat yourself. For the goals that are lackadaisical, well just include them in the following year’s target.
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