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Have you broken your New Year’s resolution yet? I never really got started with mine. Within a few days of saying goodbye to 2016, I came down with a cold. (My husband’s fault.) Then we got a blizzard. (Bad enough anywhere, but here in the south, 2 inches of snow is enough to paralyze us.) I haven’t been out

Snowy trees
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of the house for 5 days, let alone gone for the daily walks I had planned.

But I really don’t want my slow start non-start on the annual “new year, new you” plan to be forgotten, so I thought perhaps a better way of looking at things is to imagine what I want my life to be like a year from now.

I can tell you one thing I do not want to be doing a year from now. That’s sitting here making the same resolutions I made this year. I want to have accomplished this year’s goals and be setting new goals for 2018. By imagining my life a year from now, by projecting myself into the future, I can move beyond simply resolving to achieve certain things and actually take the steps I need to accomplish it — by working backwards to make a plan.

Objective⇒Milestones⇒Action⇒Results

The difference between a goal and a dream is a timeline. (Dr. Phil)

Results are an outcome of what you do every day. Not what you do on one day but what you do every day. If you want to be in a different place a year from now — whether it’s a different place financially, a different place geographically, or a different place on the scale — whether or not that happens is directly dependent on what you choose to do with the 24 hours you are given each day.

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Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably devoting at least 8 of those 24 hours to work. Even if you work a regular 9 to 5, you probably spend your weekends taxiing kids to different activities, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and other obligations. But allowing 8 hours a day for sleep, that still leaves you 8 hours every day to do the things that will get you where you want to be by this time next year.

The problem is, at least for me, that when I finally get to that part of the day where I can take action steps to achieve my objectives, I often find myself at a loss. If you’re used to having every minute of your time scheduled, you may find yourself at loose ends when you’re finally able to come up for air, and without a solid plan, you end up spending those available hours watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet.

This is where the timeline comes in. First set your objective. Whatever it is you want to achieve in the next year. Whether it’s a fitness goal, a financial goal, or something else you want to change, identify it and write it down.

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Then figure out what steps you will need to take in order to achieve it and assign each of those steps a deadline. These will be your milestones. Each of your milestones will include a specific action.

As you begin to put together your timeline, it’s likely you will identify other action steps that need to be taken. For example, if your goal is to be living in a home of your own by this time next year, you may need to save a down-payment, perhaps $10,000. If your current budget will not allow you to do that, then your first step may be to pay off some bills or cut down on expenses. So, those milestones might precede actually stashing any money away.

In addition, by having these things written down, you can easily refer to your timeline and develop a to-do list so that your available hours are used productively to take steps toward your objective. Instead of using your time to play a video game, research ways to get out of debt, cut down on your grocery bill, or earn some extra money. Add these milestones to your timeline.

Just saying “This year I’m going to lose weight” or “This year I’m going to find a better job” or “This year I’m going to save enough to buy a house” is not likely to produce results. That’s because most people never get past the “want to” stage. They wake up every day, go about their business as usual, and end up back in bed at night having done nothing to work toward their objectives.

Make this year different and your life could be different a year from now.

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