We are a few weeks into the new year, and already many of us have lost our way when it comes to our resolutions. Resolutions are generally broad proclamations like “I’m going to exercise more” or “This is the year I’ll finish my novel.” The second one has been a resolution of mine for several years. Still, these broad proclamations feel helpful. They give us a general direction, a dart board to aim at. But a dart board is useless without darts. This year, instead of resolutions, I’m trying something new: specific goals with achievable outcomes.
One trend criss-crossing the Internet is the “18 in 2018” goal setting method. With this process, you choose 18 specific actions you want to take before this year ends. I tried this process and ended up with a list of small, achievable activities. Some activities on my list are more habits than single actions:
*Drink one water bottle every day.
*Do strength training six days a week.
Other items on my list have a more concrete feel to them:
*Write 800 words a day on my novel on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until June 30th. (This will net me a 75,000 word draft by mid year).
*Write one blog post a week. (With this I hope to gain more readers and expand the types of inspiration I offer on this site.
The “18 in 2018” method gives you the darts you need to throw at your dartboard full of goals. It’s much easier get a handle on “Today I’m going to write 800 words on my novel” than it is to say “I’m going to work on my book this week.”
So how do you create darts to throw at your dartboard? There are a few keys to doing this:
*Make sure you can measure your steps: If trying to create a habit, write down specific steps it takes to get that habit going. What days will you work on the habit? What specifically will you do? You need to know how far to stand from the dartboard before you throw.
*Make the tasks manageable: If you’re setting a task to do something every day, make sure it’s something you can complete within an hour or so. This gives a weight to your darts that helps you to judge your aim.
*Set your schedule based on each task: If you’re planning on doing something every day or on a regular basis, sit down once a week and block out time in your schedule for each day of that week when you’ll accomplish that task. Have a one-time task you want to accomplish? Use your calendar to make a plan to achieve that task. What month do you want to complete the task in? Can you break it down to a specific day? If so, put that day on your calendar and set up reminders for several days and weeks ahead of time to get that task on your plate. You have to throw your darts sometime, so its best to plan when that’ll happen.
*Re-evaluate every month: Dart tournaments come in rounds. Look back at the end of each month to see what tasks you’ve achieved and what you still want to get done in the months that remain in this year.
*Stop trying to be perfect: If you’re working to create regular habits, the important part is that they become regular, not that you achieve them perfectly. If your task is, like one of mine, to drink a bottle of water every day, don’t give up just because you miss a few days. Re-evaluate (see above) your task and see if there’s a better way to approach it that would make you more successful. Then start again and see how far you get. Try to get further each month. Progress, not perfection, is the important thing. You don’t have to hit the bullseye every time. Just hit the board as often as you can.
Ready to throw some task darts at your dartboard full of goals? What are your “18 in 2018?” Share in the comments below.