Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Small Steps Toward Successful New Year’s Goals

by Tamara Martfeld

Last year I wrote about having New Year’ Goals instead of New Year’s Resolutions, thus the title of this article. The other article is on the web site if you want to read (or re-read) it.

I have learned a motto from Flylady at Flylady.net: 15 minutes a day. She advocates using 15 minute increments to get things done. She started with decluttering and cleaning the house and it had been applied to many other activities as well. The thought is that you can do anything for 15 minutes. Yes, I thought she was crazy, but I tried it anyway. It works. Set a timer for 15 minutes and do what you can in that time. Stop when the timer stops. If you want to continue, set the timer again. However, it is very important that you realize you can stop for the day once that 15 minutes is gone. I (and many others) have found that I got more done than I thought possible in that mere 15 minutes. Sometimes I find myself looking at the timer thinking it ran out of battery or something.

This may not work for all goals, but it can work for many. Obviously, if your goal is to declutter or to clean your house the “15 minutes a day” motto will work for you. It is already tested by many people and I suggest exploring flylady.net for ideas. The web site has great information for many situations that I suggest checking it out even if cleaning and clutter are not your goals. It also has some information on helping with finances, weight loss, and other issues. I have it linked in my Links section of the web site.

Try finding a way to use “15 minutes a day” for your goal. For example, if you want to stop smoking, drinking, or eating, set the timer for 15 minutes when the urge starts and see if it goes away in 15 minutes. Many times it will. If your goal is to exercise more, set the timer for 15 minutes and do what you can in that time. If walking is the form of exercise you want to do, set the timer for 7.5 minutes and walk away from home, then turn around when the timer rings and walk back. If you want to write the Great American Novel, set the timer and write whatever comes to mind for 15 minutes and then edit your work later. Using “15 minutes a day” toward your goal at least gets you started working on the goal.

This is just one small step you can take to reach your goals. Another small step is to take your goal and break it down into the smallest parts possible then take one of those small steps every day or week. Even a small task can usually be broken down – for example, sending a one-page letter requires 1) taking out a piece of paper, 2) getting the writing implement (usually pen or pencil), 3) getting the envelope, 4) getting the address of the person to whom the letter is going, 5) writing the address on the envelope, 6) putting your return address on the envelope, 7) buying a stamp, 8) putting the stamp on the envelope, 9) writing the salutation of the letter, 10) writing the body of the letter (and this can likely be further broken up), 11) writing the salutation at the end of the letter, and 12) signing your name.

Another way to use small steps toward your goal is to set a schedule for working on the goal. For example, I have a few projects which need work. Every Monday I will spend at least 15 minutes on the first project, every Tuesday I will spend at least 15 minutes on the second project, and so on for every day of the week except for Sunday (taking that day off). Realistically I will probably work longer than 15 minutes each day, but at least something will be accomplished this year.

However you do it, I wish you success in reaching this year’s goals. Have a wonderful and prosperous new year!