Defining your VISION for 2022 and beyond? But where do you start? Here are the Top 10 Tips to help you do it successfully.
If you missed the previous post…. Start by thinking about what you want to achieve? What are your goals, objectives, priorities, dreams, or aspirations? Know where you want to go before you start deciding how to get there. Select the goals that are most important to you and will keep you motivated. (See the full post for more insights and examples on what you may want to include when defining your VISION).
As you think through your priorities, here are the Top 10 Tips to keep in mind:
1. Set a reasonable number of goals – if you try to accomplish too many at once you might find yourself spreading your efforts too thinly across each of your goals. Picking a fewer number will allow you to focus on those that you’d be happy achieving. For some people it might be 3-5 goals, for others it might be 5-7 goals, but the point is… it should not be 15-20. As you sort through the different ideas, you may be able to group similar goals and thus make the overall number goals more manageable.
2. Goals should be gradual but progressive and ultimately lead you closer to your vision. You should not feel that you need to achieve your ultimate goal within the first year. Setting big or quick changes could just set you up for failure or disappointment. Using weight loss as an example, if you feel that losing 25 kg (55 lbs.) would be your ultimate goal, what about aiming for 10-15 kg as a first step? Once you get there you will be even more motivated to keep going.
On a personal note, at one point I weighed 108 kg (238 lbs.) – it was likely even more than that but, in those days, I was not keen to get on the bathroom scale on a regular basis but that is the highest weight measurement that I can recall. I initially set 90 kg (200 lbs.) as my target weight. My son thought my goal should have been another 7kgs (15lbs) beyond that. My reaction to his suggestion was “There’s no way! The last time I weighed that I was in my early 20s and I’m now 52! I’ll be happy with 200 lbs.” But then after getting to my 200 lbs. goal, I re-evaluated and thought “You know another 10-15 lbs. wouldn’t hurt.” Then once I got to that goal, I thought “a little bit more (healthy) weight loss to lose some of the excess around the waist might be a good idea.” My current goal is now to get to 80kg (175 lbs). Today I feel this is very achievable BUT if I had set that as my initial target, I probably would not have even started taking the necessary steps because I never would have imagined it could even be possible.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”R. Collier
3. Establish a timeline (and stick to it) – setting a target date or timeline will act like an reminder to yourself which can help you maintain up a sense of urgency. Otherwise, you can easily fall into the “what’s the rush” syndrome or worse “I’ll do it tomorrow” which then becomes next week, then month and then it eventually loses its urgency and importance. Unless there are major unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances you should not allow yourself to push back your target date. Instead of allowing yourself to push back your timelines perhaps you should look for ways to make up the lost time by forcing yourself to double down on the efforts in order to get back on track. Some goals, especially those that are health related, will automatically increase the level of urgency or serious attention that you give to those specific goals.
4. Allow a little room for error (or course correction) – without dismissing the previous point, there is no need to throw your hands in the air in despair if you allow yourself a “cheat” day once a month or every couple of weeks. Having said that you cannot allow these “cheat days” to become the rule instead of the exception. Giving yourself a “mulligan”, as they say in golf, might keep you positive, motivated, and headed in the right direction.
5. If you don’t make the time, your body will make it for you – it’s a trap that many people fall into – including me (but that’s a topic for another post). Have you ever caught yourself saying “I can’t miss these deadlines”, “I’m too busy right now and there’s no one else who can do it” or “I don’t have time right now because _____” (you fill in the so-called reason). Until one day, and rest assured your body will tell you when that is, when you will make the time because suddenly it will the most important item on your priority list. It might start with a small pain or uneasiness that you ignore or cover-up with a pain reliever and then press on and think nothing of it. But if you don’t listen to your body early enough, and make the necessary corrections yourself, then perhaps sitting in a doctor’s office hearing a negative diagnosis will then make it all real and suddenly a new priority. Hopefully it will be early enough for you to get things back on the right path.
J. Stein atop Pico mountain as the sunrise casts Pico’s shadow on the horizon
6. Be creative and capture a visual (or graphic) of your VISION. Once you make a plan, then commit to it! Putting it on paper makes it real. Keep it somewhere you can see it daily or at least regularly. This can be as simple as a collage of images that represent your vision or goals. It can be a word board with the key words that others may not know what the motivation is behind the words… but you will and that’s what matters. You can even get out some crayons or makers and let your left (creative) brain run wild. The visual reminder might be a cue to stay on track in case you happen to forget what you committed yourself to do. How about sharing it with close friends and family? If you are comfortable doing that, it might be an additional level of support to have around you. It might also be a nice reminder for them not to offer you that calorie rich dessert as temptation if they know it would be contrary to the goals that you have set for yourself. It can also be a subtle way to let them know how they can help you to achieve your goals. Who knows, perhaps your initiative might encourage them consider their own vision and goals and before you know it you have created a support group for each other in order to make each other better.
7. Track your progress – the same way a fuel gauge indicator allows us to plan our next refueling stop, having a straightforward “tracker” or dashboard will allow you to monitor your progress (or lack thereof). This can also give you an opportunity to make a course correction if what you are doing is not yielding the results you expected. Making some changes that keep you motivated and heading in the same general direction is better that being frustrated by the lack of progress and throwing in the towel. Building on the previous point, you can also use this as another opportunity to be creative. This can be in the form of a notebook where you can make journal entries to log, quantifiable metrics (weight, calories, time spent on activities) or personable qualitative metrics like how you feel, mood, energy level etc. or simply to journal how you are feeling. This in itself may help you identify any cause-effect relationships that you might not otherwise have been aware of. For those that are tech savvy and using software and hi-tech devices: tailor an Excel or Google Sheets file to track your progress; or benefit from the advanced technology nowadays in smart watches, smart phones and fitness trackers to help you monitor metrics that you track the metrics you want to track. While some people may think that a “tracker” is overkill. I think it depends on the person. Some may feel that having to keep a tracker holds them accountable and motivated to achieve their goals. At the end of the day… do what works for you!
8. Celebrate achievements along the way – it might not be the ultimate goal but applauding the small accomplishments that get you one step closer should be celebrated and motivate you to keep pressing on. It is these small steps that when linked together can lead to big changes. Achieving a step forward should not be an opportunity to take the foot off the gas pedal, to the contrary, it should be a driver to help push you forward even more and realized that this is not the time to sit back and coast.
9. Be positive – this probably goes with saying but it’s always a good reminder that positivity breeds positivity (and the same is true for negativity). According to the Mayo Clinic, a positive mindset has many benefits including lower depression, reduced levels of distress and pain, greater resistance to illness and physical well-being and an increased life span.
10. Keeping it simple is key – this is intentionally the last tip but perhaps one of the more important suggestions. Why? It is human nature to prefer things that are simple, easy to remember, follow and track. Complexity can add needless stress or anxiety. Keeping things simple as it relates to the TOP 10 Tips and your goals, objectives, priorities, dreams, or aspirations that are important to YOU will undoubtedly increase your probability of success.
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”Ancient Chinese Proverb from Lao Tzu
 Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress, Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950