by Kristin Kuiper, LMSW, MSW
Happy 2011! By now the holiday celebrations and travels are finished, gifts have been opened, and food (perhaps way too much!) has been eaten. I’m sure many of you have thought about some personal goals for 2011; maybe there are specific things you want to change in your life, new hobbies you want to cultivate, skills you want to learn or a relationship you want to improve. The tradition of setting New Years resolutions has been around for a long time and is commonplace in our culture. The beginning of a new year is such a ripe time to make some positive changes. But, from my experience and maybe yours as well, resolutions are not often achieved.
For several years I was a part of a gym and noticed that at the turn of the New Year, it was really difficult to find an open treadmill. I would even show up for spin class and be turned away due to all the bikes being occupied. The gym was bustling with new faces and people who were full of motivation to get in shape and feel good about themselves. However, I could pretty much count on that I would be able to get back on a treadmill or find an unoccupied bike without any problem around March…at that time, motivation has often faded, goals get put on our personal back burners again.
Are you a person who struggles with motivation? Do you set a goal and then have a difficult time achieving it? I have a visual that might be helpful as you pursue some fresh starts this year. Picture, in your mind—or draw on a piece of paper-- a ladder. Picture or write your goal at the top of this ladder—this is where you want to be. Then, picture yourself at the bottom of the ladder, looking ahead at the many rungs leading to the top. Ask yourself what it might look like to climb each rung for what it is—basically breaking your goal down into smaller and more achievable steps. Ask yourself what kind of support you have for climbing this ladder—who is there to cheer you on or check in to see how your process is going or even to offer you encouragement if you fall? Establish a reward for yourself for each rung of the ladder that you climb.
Meeting our goals is rarely successful if we don’t have a process set up for working toward them—in a way that works with our daily lives.
Are you someone that views the New Year as an opportunity for some fresh starts? What are your goals for this New Year? What might the rungs on your goal ladder look like for you?