1. Realize it is up to you. Period.
No one is going to do the work for you. You may be able to get some help along the way, but this is completely up to you.
2. Pick three things only. No more.
I know, I know - there's the bucket list. Here's my thought on that - why overwhelm yourself? When you accomplish one goal you can add another. But if you list 100 things it's easy to lose focus and get distracted - doing a little here and a little there. An important part of this is prioritizing your desires. What are the three things you want most now?
3. I know this is so overused, but think outside your own box.
Try to get to the core of things. Why do you want to lose weight? To be healthier? To look better? Do you want to look better because you want to be loved? Is losing weight the right goal or is meeting more people a better goal?
To find the right life for you, you have to know what is most important to you at your very core. What is most important to me is freedom. It's taken me a long time to really understand that, and it may take you a while to get to your core values, but the only way you can be happy is by living your life according to YOUR values - no one else's.
- I want to pay off all my debt by the end of 20XX.
- I want to run a mile by the end of February.
- I want to go to Australia by 20XX.
You will know in your gut the goals that are right for you. When I was planning my goals for this past year, I usually include a big trip somewhere.
This year it felt right to me to forgo the trip and pay off my mortgage. It wasn't very exciting, but it has made me very happy. Remember my freedom value? Now that I don't have a house payment, I am much more free.
I don't have to be as worried about work - I will have a roof over my head. The house payment is an obligation I no longer have. Live according to YOUR values and you will be much happier.
These goals are all about you, not the world. You may feel all this pressure to get married or to lose weight, but if you aren't excited by those goals, let them go. This is your life we are charting.
5. You can change your mind at any time.
If you start researching your trip to Australia and decide you'd rather just go to New Zealand - that's okay. Or if you decide you want to push a deadline back, that's okay too. Changing your mind is not the same as giving up. You give up if you still really want the goal but you got lazy and quit working toward it. That leads to regret - I don't want you to have regrets. Just give yourself more time.
6. If you aren't making progress, regroup.
Are you doing the right things? Maybe you need to do some research or ask for help. I see people in the gym all the time fooling themselves that they are working out; women lifting 5 lb. dumbbells wondering why they don't have great arms.
They need to get a trainer, a book, a video - they aren't working hard enough to get the results they want. Or their form is so bad they might as well be sitting at home watching TV. This can be true with any change. You're trying hard, but need more information.
If you lose 10 pounds, treat yourself to a spa visit. Losing 10 pounds is hard! Choose rewards that will keep you working toward the goal and give them to yourself! Most of us are great at beating ourselves up, but awful at rewarding ourselves. Do it!
8. Take some action toward your goal every day, even if it is small.
Little things add up. They also help build momentum for bigger things. With the mortgage, I had been making extra payments for years. But when I wrote down the goal to pay it off, it made me really think about how I could do it, what it would be like to have no house payment! I took all the trip money, some savings and BLAM - did it. But it was all those little extra payments that helped me get there.
Stop reading this and figure how who the hell you really are and exactly what you want. Write it down. Make it happen. Or don't - it's completely up to you.