Birthday Thoughts

My birthday was last week. As always, my friends and family reminded me that I am lucky to be surrounded by people who love me, and as usual, I’ve been spending time thinking about change.

Birthdays are a good time to ponder one’s direction through life.  For some odd reason I always feel a twinge of sadness on my birthday.  It’s not nostalgia, exactly, but more an awareness of the passage of time, and how much there is to see, do, experience, feel…

I’ve been taking stock, assessing and considering goals all week. Springtime seems like a more appropriate time to set goals than the dead of winter; it doesn’t matter much what the calendar says I feel motivated to reconsider my goals when the trees bud and the grass starts turning green.

A few things have worked for me several times in setting and attaining goals, perhaps they would be useful for you, too:

Think about your goal for a while before getting started. During this stage you are deciding why a goal is important to you and what you are willing to do to reach it. You are creating a plan. You are deciding how to approach the change.

Be willing to fail and try again. Depending on your goal, it may take several tries – several years, even – to be successful. I probably tried different approaches to quitting smoking for a year and a half or so before I finally did it.  One thing is certain – if you stop trying, you will NOT reach your goal. Ever.

Assess your progress regularly. Daily, hourly, every five minutes. Depending on what you are trying to do, you may need to think about your progress often. If you are trying to make changes to your sleeping habits, you are going to have to think about it at least once or twice every day. Observing your success and failures will help you adjust your plan.

Adjust your strategy as needed. All that assessment is so that you can change your approach as often as you need to.  If your plan isn’t leading to the results you expect, try something different.

Forgive yourself. Sometimes, especially if you are working on a goal that is extra difficult, it is tempting to beat yourself up when you mess up.  Belittling yourself doesn’t help move you toward your goals. Recognize it, try to figure out if there is a change you can make that will help you avoid the same mistake in the future and move on.

There are plenty of other posts out there by people much more famous than I that offer advice on how to achieve your goals, but these few tips have helped me pass some momentous milestones.

Do you have a method for making changes to your life that has worked well? What have I left out?

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