By Anna Matteo
28 January, 2019

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

If you are like millions of people around the world, the New Year brings with it new goals.

Perhaps you want to save money, lose weight or learn a new skill. You tell yourself, "This is the year I'm going to ... (fill in the blank.")

But then you get busy.

In this 2015 file photo, hikers rest at Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Many goals, like climbing a mountain, require hard work, planning and many small steps to achieve. (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa, file)
In this 2015 file photo, hikers rest at Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Many goals, like climbing a mountain, require hard work, planning and many small steps to achieve. (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa, file)

Your daily life -- as wonderful as it can be -- takes up all of your time. Before you know it, weeks, then months have gone by, and you are no closer to your goal.

Time, as they say, waits for no one.

Yet your goal remains important. And achieving a goal, no matter how small, feels good. In addition, when we do not work on our goals, we may end up feeling guilty or not successful.

So, how can we find time to work on these larger life goals?

Well, many websites address this issue, and they offer some of the same advice: If you want to achieve something, clearly identify it and write it down.

Identify specific goals

As you identify your goals, be specific. If a goal is too general, it may be hard to pursue let alone achieve it.

Let's say your goal is to get in better physical shape. That's a fine idea -- but psychologists might say as a goal, it is too general.

To make the goal more specific, you could sign up for a regular exercise class. So, whether you are dancing, doing yoga or kickboxing, you have a regular commitment every week. You could also say your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time.

Write your goals down

Experts say writing down your goal is a very important step. It gets the goal out of your brain and into the real world.

Some psychologists suggest that writing a goal on paper is better than typing it on a device or saying it into your phone. Your brain receives information differently when it comes from handwriting. Writing things down seems to say to the brain, "I am important! Remember me!"

Writing has another benefit: You can post your goal somewhere as a reminder. As you sit down at your computer or pour your morning coffee, your goal stares you in the face and asks, "What are you going to do about me today?"

Tell a friend

Telling someone your goal is also helpful.

If someone else knows about your goals, you are held accountable for any progress or lack of progress. Your friend might ask, "So, how many pages of your novel have you written?" If you keep saying "none," you might feel badly.

Now you feel a pressure to do it -- the pressure of your friend's opinion of you. And that can be a big pressure! Many people do not want to let others down, especially friends and family.

Break down BIG goals into small ones

Not all goals are created equal. Some can be quite big. And for those bigger goals, experts suggest breaking them down into smaller ones.

So, let's say you want to work for yourself. You love cooking. So, you decide to start your own company that supplies food for special events. Now, that is a very big goal. But it is made up of many smaller goals. So, identify them, write them down and set for yourself time limits.

These suggestions all help to make your goals real. If you simply think about your goals, they can easily get lost in your brain – which, after all, has a lot to do in a day.

Other experts remind us of another detail as we set our goals for the New Year: The goals may change. Or your life situation may change. Or you may change. So, it is a good idea to check in with yourself. Is this goal still what you want? Is your approach still working? If things are not proceeding forward, perhaps you need to change something.

One expert, Ryder Carroll, helps people organize their life's goals by using a simple notebook. He suggests thinking about your goals not as a final destination, but rather as lighthouses guiding you along.

It is the pursuit of your goals -- not the reaching of them -- that makes up the weeks, days and hours of our lives. So make sure to have fun along the way!

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report. I'm Anna Matteo.

And I'm Bryan Lynn.

Here is your chance to try one of the methods mentioned here. In the Comments Section, share one of your goals for 2019 with the world! Use the goal-making language you heard here.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

blank n. an empty space (as on a paper)

general adj. relating to the main or major parts of something rather than the details : not specific

specificadj. clearly and exactly presented or stated : precise or exact

accountable adj. required to explain actions or decisions to someone

let others downphrasal verb disappoint others : fail to deliver a promise

destinationn. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent

check in with yourself phrasal verb a type of self-examination

pursuit n. the act of chasing, following, or trying to obtain