When January 1 rolls around, many people say to themselves, "This is it. This will be the year I refinish the basement, paint the bathroom, or finally exorcise that pesky ghost from my attic."
Ah, good intentions. They are perfectly swell, but where was it again that the road paved with good intentions was headed?
Goals are easy enough to declare, but executing them is a bit more complicated. The disappointment that ensues when one fails to meet a stated goal can be enough to discourage him or her from trying in the first place. On the other hand, the satisfaction of a job well done is, in a word, exhilarating.
THIS and THAT
We often dream of that which we hope to accomplish, but rarely do we calculate precisely how to get there. Would you go on an unmarked hike in the woods without a map or compass? Of course not.
Treat charting the path to achieving your goal with careful, thoughtful attention.
Karen Grosz, owner of Canvas Creek Team Building and certified professional coach recommends challenging yourself with the "THIS and THAT" game. Explained Grosz, "THIS is the goal -- it is what you declare you are working towards. THAT is the hardest, most frustrating part of achieving your goal."
To decipher THIS and THAT, Grosz advised putting your thoughts down on paper. "Write down your THIS -- the goal, as well as the benefits of achieving it, and the THAT -- the hardest tasks required to make your goal a reality. To play THIS and THAT you simply compare the two to see which side wins."
THIS: Making the attic into an exercise room
Losing weight Buying equipment
Fitting into my old clothes
Running a 5K in April
Feeling more energized
Reducing my cholesterol
Putting in a rug
Taking boxes downstairs
Cleaning the attic
With a worthwhile goal, THIS outshines THAT and becomes a task you are ready to meet head-on.
When you are able to see the goal in writing, as well as the obstacles you must overcome to get there, you have then built a solid foundation for your mission.
Tackling home improvement
You have your goal and the confidence to achieve it, but how exactly do you get from the starting line to the finish?
Rod Propp, owner of Rod Propp Construction, is a pro when it comes to tackling home improvement projects. "The first thing you need to do is to come up with a plan, and stick to it," said Propp. "What I run into a lot is that after the job gets started, people change their minds about what they want. Soon the project becomes more complicated and expensive than what they initially imagined, so finishing it seems near impossible."
Finances and requisite time input can escalate without prudent planning. "Look into the products you're going to use. Do research," Propp instructed. "Check out the Internet for instructions. Many retailers in town have knowledgeable staff that can give you an idea of what you are up against, both with cost and labor."
Just in case unforeseen expenses arise, Propp added, "Be sure you have a 25% budget cushion. There's nothing worse than running out of money in the middle of the project."
Propp also recommends leaving certain areas to the experts. "Most homeowners should not tackle a project involving electrical or plumbing. They should call a professional rather than getting themselves into a serious bind."
When the going gets tough
The Seven Dwarves had whistling. Mary Poppins had a spoonful of sugar. Harry Belafonte had his "Banana Boat" song. What will be your trick to making your task a bit more fun and easier to swallow?
When it comes to incentives and building a team to help you, Grosz finds that the two go hand in hand. "Attain a support system that may include a significant other, friends or mentor," said Grosz.
"If you need help repaving the driveway, invite your friends over to help lighten the load and throw a pizza party. You can even allow your helpers to personalize their own touches -- like having them carve initials in the cement," Grosz said. Transform the chore into a fun occasion.
Propp finds it beneficial to organize your day according to preference. "Pick out your least favorite part of the project and do that first. Then work your way to the stuff you like to do. That always makes my day go better. You don't want to leave the worst thing until the end of the day when you are exhausted."
The tough get going
Resolutions can be difficult, and nobody is perfect. Perhaps you worry that the donut you indulged in has foiled your diet, or your half-torn up kitchen is simply too much of a disaster to ever repair.
Propp and Grosz are strong proponents of a recovery plan.
"Go back to your goal list and turn to your support people -- they will be able to help bolster you and remind you of how important this project is," said Grosz.
Propp advised, "Walk away from the project and let it set -- then return with a fresh mindset and point of view. If you are stumped about how to proceed, talk to the people you bought the product from or contact a contractor. Go back to your original plan."