Try solid goal-setting tactics to achieve resolutions

  • Article by: LIZ REYER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 1, 2012 - 10:13 AM

If you make New Year's resolutions, you've likely seen many good intentions fall by the wayside. Setting and achieving goals is a skill that transcends content, and it's fundamental to moving forward. It also can be a challenging skill to acquire, but the steps outlined below can help.

The inner game

What do you want to accomplish? Why? What could hold you back? These are some of the key inner dynamics to clarify on your path to achieving your goals.

Let's say that you have a sedentary job and are focused on building more activity into your life. If you define that as your goal, your chances for success are minimal because it's so vague. Instead, get more specific; for example, going for walks after work, joining a gym, or returning to an activity that you used to do. Also consider non-recreational ways to be active, such as using stairs instead of an elevator.

It's essential to know why you have a goal. For example, why do you want to be more active? Go deeply here. Keep asking yourself "why." If being more active will make you feel better, why is that important? If feeling better will give you more energy, why is that important? Eventually you'll get to the core of your motivation, such as being able to engage more fully with people you care about. Understanding your deeper motivations will give you an invaluable tool when the going is hard.

Finally, think about factors that could hold you back. Time is an obvious potential derailer. Others may include lack of energy to get started, fear of being unsuccessful, or even fear of being successful. Look at your past experience and notice where barriers have gotten in your way. How could you have overcome them? Also notice successful steps you've taken to overcome other barriers.

The outer game

Avoid one of the biggest derailers of all: trying to do too much. Select one very specific goal, and create a sustainable habit.

For example, you might decide to take short walks during the workday. Then make a specific plan. Decide on optimal times, say, midmorning and midafternoon. Define your walking options. If it's nice weather, you may want to go outside, and on other days, identify indoor options. Try putting reminders on your calendar, and find a walking buddy to make it harder to skip. After a month or so of success, pick your next goal.

Acknowledge your accomplishment every time you do it -- pursuing a goal is a big deal, and you deserve to give yourself kudos. If you're not following through, address whatever is holding you back and get back on track.

Get help from others by sharing your goals and asking for support. Most people will be helpful, but you may run into a few who may try to undermine you. Strange but true -- every dieter can tell you about someone who keeps pushing the cookies! Don't let these folks get in your way.

The last word

Solid goal-setting tactics will help you achieve any resolution and resolve any issues you face.

What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at

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