Meeting Your Goals with Tiny Steps

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I love making resolutions and goal lists. So much so that I don’t only do it at the beginning of the year. I tend to rethink my direction in the spring and fall as well, or whenever I’m feeling funky and in need of change.

Well, I guess I’m feeling pretty funky and in need of change right now, because my goal list for this year is pretty lengthy.

meeting goals with small steps
A small portion of my 2012 goals list.

In all it’s more than a page (though I did put eating healthier on there twice, so if I squished, it probably would all fit on the front of one notebook page. It includes the usual — eating better, exercising more, finally getting my office organized — and some fun stuff, like going somewhere or doing something new every month (even if it’s just visiting a new store or going to a new restaurant, but hopefully bigger than that sometimes, too), knitting more for myself and reading a lot more books that don’t have anything to do with knitting.

There’s business stuff — starting an Etsy shop, doing more networking — and personal stuff: getting the Bit to eat more vegetables, being a better friend. There’s concrete stuff — purging books! — and not-so-concrete stuff, like buying less, wasting less and wanting less.

Whew, that’s a lot of stuff! It’s Jan. 4 and I’m tired already.

The first point when it comes to goals (and why I call them goals, not resolutions) is that every day is a new day, and every day we try to do better is a good day.

The second point is that it’s probably impossible to do all that, and to keep it all up all year long. I’m OK with that. Repeat: every day we try to do better is a good day.

The third point is that it’s possible to make a lot of things happen with little bitty pockets of time.

Take 15 Minutes

I’m not a huge fan of the Fly Lady (oy, all those e-mails!) but I do like the idea of cleaning, exercise or anything else becoming a habit and the mantra that you can do anything for 15 minutes. And the truth is you can accomplish a lot in 15 minutes.

I have a lot of goals I wanted to get a jump on today — my first of the year alone in the house — so I made a list and pulled out my timer. In 15-minute (or so) chunks today I:

  • cleaned up the floor in my bedroom
  • vacuumed my bedroom and the Bit’s room (that didn’t take 15 minutes, but still)
  • exercised (actually for more like 17 minutes, until the elliptical thought I’d burned 150 calories)
  • put away the Christmas stuff and made progress clearing off my desk
  • made a dent in the work e-mails I received when I didn’t check my mail for 11 days or so

Not too shabby, eh? Now I know 15 minutes of exercise isn’t going to get me very far, but right now I’m in the “something is better than nothing” camp and I know that’ll bump up to 30 minutes soon, probably next week, and on from there.

The e-mail thing I’m particularly proud of, and it isn’t even on my goal list because I hope to clear out both my major e-mail accounts this month, 15 minutes at a time. Once it’s done, 15 minutes a week should take care of both of them (see, more exercising time right there!). I also like the idea of a 15-minute burst of cleaning every day, especially when it’s in places (like the bedroom, or the laundry room) that don’t usually get much attention. Such a little thing that makes a big difference. And, again, once the deep cleaning is done, maintenance will be a lot faster (especially with a little help from another awesome person named Sarah).

So no matter what your goal is, if you really want to do it but you feel like it’s too big to do in one day, take 15 minutes. Go ahead, set a timer. Do all you can, get to a good stopping point when the buzzer rings and move on to the next thing. Come back tomorrow and as many tomorrows as it takes to get that thing done.

What can you do in 15 minutes that will get you closer to the you you want to be in 2012? Feel free to share your thoughts and your goals here!

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