The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Many people create New Year’s resolutions after the holiday season ends. One of the most common resolutions is improving one’s health through exercising. A resolution can be anything you want to accomplish, whether it is health related or trying something new. I have read many self-help articles on achieving goals to improve my performance with graduate school, relationships, and hobbies. I would like to share a few general tips that were very helpful in reaching my own goals.
Set Realistic Expectations and Goals
You should be honest with yourself and set realistic goals that are achievable. The motivation to reach a goal will die fast when it seems impossible to reach. If your true goal feels like a stretch than a reality, try setting milestones along the way. It is more important to see continuous improvement over time than to set time limits or become fixated on a specific outcome.
Positive Mentality is Critical to Success
A re-occurring theme in self-help articles is having the right mentality to accomplish a goal. You are more likely to improve and succeed in reaching a goal if you believe you can do it. Positive mental energy goes a long way to help you stay motivated. In addition, believing in yourself improves your overall happiness during the process of achieving a goal.
A Results-Oriented Focus is Wrong
A common trap in reaching goals is justifying your efforts specifically by the results. This can lead to negative feelings and emotion rather than positive motivation to continue working harder. Learning and improving through dedicated practice will produce results over time. The amount of time it can take to reach a goal can vary. A good example is when someone starts lifting weights for the first time. It is common to see quick strength improvements from lifting weights when you have never worked out before. However, at some point your performance gains slow down and it becomes much harder to notice improvements. Maintaining a results-oriented approach to lifting can cause negative feelings that your efforts are not working. You should expect to hit plateaus and speed bumps along the way to reaching any goal.
Practice Makes Perfect
You do not become a professional athlete without hours and hours of practice. Some people have innate talent that gives them an advantage, but mastering that talent still requires practice. To accomplish a goal, you must put forth effort over time. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practicing to master a task. While your goal may not require 10,000 hours to accomplish, the underlying theme is practice makes perfect.
Time is Precious
There are 168 hours in a given week. If you work a full-time job and sleep eight hours a day, then your remaining free time is 72 hours. Assuming you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner; you can narrow the 72 hours down to around 58 hours. Fitting in time to go to the gym, write a blog post, or read a book can become a challenge. Sometimes you must give up one thing to add something else to your busy schedule. Making your goal a priority in your life will help you find the time to reach it.
This past year was full of joyous memories, countless hours of graduate school, and celebrating many weddings (including my own). I accomplished my goal of continuing to write each week, even when life was very busy. While I did not win an invitation to another regional Magic: The Gathering tournament, I did place second and fourth in competitive constructed tournaments. Time is precious and I had to cut back time on my personal hobbies to make time for more important things. Practice makes perfect as I focused on playing two specific deck strategies in Magic: The Gathering that led to winning cash prizes. Even when I did not have time to play, I read helpful articles and wrote out strategies to implement against other decks. The only results I expected from my blog, school work, and hobbies were doing my best at any given time. I was realistic with expectations and prioritized time with my wife and friends when necessary. Thank you as well for reading and supporting my website throughout 2018. One of my goals for 2019 is to continue creating new and interesting content. Happy New Year to you and your family.