Personal Goal-Setting for the New Year: One Goal Approach

I have talked a lot about goals this week.  The process of self-examination and personal goal-setting is a complicated and time-consuming process, albeit a worthwhile one.  There is, however, an alternative to writing resolutions and setting personal goals that is much simpler.  I call it the One Goal Approach.  And this is a good approach if you just do not want to think about or write down your New Year’s resolutions, but you do want to improve yourself, in a conscious way.

All you have to do is pick one, easy-to-do, simple-to-remember goal that if you really worked on throughout the year, other parts of your life would reap the benefit. This can be very easy and effective. I’ve had good results the couple of years I have tried it.  Those years were not as focused or as driven as the years I set more resolutions, perhaps, but they were still motivated and full of positive developments.  I highly recommend it as an approach.

For example, one year, I decided that I would make an effort to look my best every day. That was my only real resolution for the year.  This may seem like a superficial goal, and in many ways, it was.  However, I made this goal at a time when I had really been putting my own needs last, and I was discouraged and run-down.  I had noticed, however, that when I looked a little nicer, people treated me better.  And then my spirits lifted, and I got more done.  Now, generally, I’m not one to wear a lot of makeup or fuss with my hair that much.  But that year, I made an effort.  Every day, before I left the house, I checked the mirror and thought, is this the best you can look?  Not the best a model can look, but the best Mary Fletcher Jones can look?

I will say that the goal was simple, but it did take effort and resources, of course.  I read about fashion trends.  I took time to shop, and I had to spend money on clothes, shoes, makeup and haircuts.  I bought gym memberships and dance classes to keep in shape.  Spending time on my appearance took time away from other things I liked to do.  At times, I felt selfish, and a little silly and vain.  I wondered if it was really a good goal, after all.  But then, I started seeing results…

EVERYONE I knew noticed the difference in me that year.  People I had not seen in years, strangers, my child’s teachers, friends, relatives.  Everyone said I looked and acted differently (in a good way).  It was a life-changing year, because as I took more care with my appearance,  and I took more time to exercise, my self-esteem and confidence increased, which consequently made it easier for me to network for business and make new friends, and be more outgoing in general, which had all kinds of career and social benefits for me.

Since I was taking the time to dress better and look more polished, I found that I also took the time to make connections with people more, and as I did, I generally became a more thoughtful person than I had been, because I just naturally gave more thought and time to things I did and said, when I was around people.  I became a better listener.

I was healthier, and I had more energy, because I was working out.  I lost about twenty pounds.

I felt more relaxed and happy, as a result of my improved social life, confidence, and physical fitness, which made me a better and more cheerful mother to my little boy, so his life was improved by my resolution, as well.

Eventually, I snagged a boyfriend, too, and I hadn’t had a romantic relationship like that in years.  And all because I had focused on one thing I could really change about myself!  So, it really wasn’t that superficial a goal, after all.

Your one goal could be just as simple, or even more easy. Think how your life would change if you

  • Drank a couple of glasses of water each day (no bottled water! just tap water)
  • Walked outside for a half hour each day (without a cell phone).
  • Went to a different museum in DC once a month all year.
  • Sat down with your family to a home-cooked meal each week for dinner.

What are some “one-goals” that would make your life better?


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