The New Year always brings out thoughts and ideas about making changes in life in the form of RESOLUTIONS. The dictionary defines a resolution as, “a firm decision to do or not to do something,” or the “action of solving a problem.” Many of these thoughts of change have been on the minds of people for quite some time but are pushed aside for various reasons. Some would say it’s due to a lack of focus, lack of confidence or natural procrastination.  I think it’s largely due to not having a Goal or a Plan.

Think about this for a second. If you sat around one day and started to think about things that you want to focus on or ways in which you wanted to improve your life, would it have a beginning, middle and end? Would you say, “I want to make a career change but I’m not sure what would it look like?” See, life changes come in many forms-everything from losing weight, changing careers, improving relationships and becoming stronger with your faith. How can you recognize and understand the ups and downs of these desired adjustments without a focused goal and a strategic plan in which to follow?

I had the privilege of training with many youth baseball players in Southern California, Northern California and Toronto, Canada in the month of December 2016. It was an absolute pleasure to be around so many young men that appreciated the discussion points around Goals and Plans. I shared my personal experiences about myself and my family and ways in which we have used SMART Goals and Strategic Planning to improve in areas of our own lives. During many of the on-site exercises, I could see their thirst for a true understanding of the process. The process that allows one’s dreams to be put into order and have the order provide more focus; focus providing clarity, understanding and direction.

What these young athletes could see when looking around at themselves and their peers is that many of our young athletes today don’t have realistic goals, let alone a plan that will help them achieve these goals. They spend countless hours in thought, in practice, in private lessons, in watching their favorite athletes perform, and dreaming of their day in professional sports, but zero time on their road map to their desired success. There weren’t many athletes that understood the concept of short-term goals vs. long-term goals and how to review them to ensure appropriate adjustments are being made. It was important for them to also consider how can goals and plans be put in place for life’s other opportunities, not just in sports. During our training sessions, we spent time working on what life looked like with a goal and plan, instead of the proverbial wish that would eventually lead to disappointment. I was very clear with these young men that it wasn’t an absolute; there are small percentages that will reach the top but many that will not. Those who do have goals, plans, vision and discipline.

I am a firm believer in Goals and Plans. Yes, dreams are fantastic to have and give you things to think about and allow you to imagine something different than what you currently have. But a dream without a plan is simply a wish. We cannot wish our way through life. Goals give us a foundation to work from and a plan provides the what, when, where and how. Even the thought of putting together a puzzle must have factors of a goal/plan. What do you put it on? How many pieces are there? Which ones are going to be put together first? Can I see the progress? How much time is needed? When do I expect to have it completed? Who will help me? It’s been said that life is like a very large puzzle. You will have corners and sides; multiple pieces that look like they fit, but don’t. It will take thought and courage, persistence and patience, focus and acceptance to navigate. Most of all, life will give us challenges to overcome.

As these young athletes found out, life won’t wait for you to establish your goals and plans and if resolutions were the answer, people wouldn’t wait until the beginning of every New Year to commit to them. Dreaming is good, but wishing isn’t enough. Set a goal and establish a plan for obtaining this goal. This will dramatically increase your chances of success and ultimately play a huge part in helping your dream come true. Please make this the year that you achieve your resolution because you turned it into a focused goal that has a plan for its success.