1. Define your goal, or you will surely to be off to a bad start. If the goal is too vague or unattainable for your skill set, beware. All goals aren’t for everyone.
2. Ask your family and close friends for help in attaining your goal. If they’re unable or uninterested in helping, log onto the nearest computer search engine for a list of books or articles on that specific goal.
3. Visit the library, if you can’t afford the latest self help book or if you are unwilling to spend the money because deep inside you know all of these books essentially say the same thing: Get off your lazy butt and do something.
4. You’ve checked the book out of the branch library, or you bought the hardcopy of the book because you wanted to impress someone other than yourself. Open the book and read at least the Introduction and Table of Contents.
5. Allow yourself a generous break and time away from the book to define those psychobabble terms undoubtedly used in said self-help guru’s Introduction.
6. Remind yourself that you will achieve this goal, no matter what, unlike the last time you decided to change your life in a meaningful way.
7. If those close to you ask about the sudden pep in your step, lead them on. Tell them you’re testing new form fitting undergarments.
8. Remind yourself that your increased heart rate has as much to do with your caffeine intake as you might actually succeed with your goal.
9. Generous break now over, get back to the book, pencil or colorful highlighter in hand to mark those stirring passages, if you purchased the book. Otherwise, photocopy or scan those passages because you might return the book during the allotted time at most stores. Library cardholders have more flexibility in returning the book, but not too much.
10. Begin the first chapter with the intent of finishing it. Turn off all communication devices and distractions: cell phone, Palm Pilot, refurbished, or sticker-covered laptop.
11. Look at your reflection in a full-length mirror and tell yourself in a clear voice: “I am worthy of this goal.”
12. Write and display handwritten reminders on index cards or colorful Post-its around your living and/or work space for all to see and nudge you along your appointed goal.
13. Set up a reward system for successful increments on the path to achieving your goal.
14. Talk to or visit family or friends who are stuck in a rut to get you over the initial butterflies.
15. After the phone call or visit, reread the Introduction and Table of Contents to remind yourself of what you think you want.
16. If you’re ready for the next step, read chapter two, or treat yourself to a hot shower or bath. All this goal setting is hard work, and you need to relax before the real work begins.
17. Remember to take the book everywhere you go to read during downtime at work or face value on the subway or bus, if you use mass transit. Don’t forget your highlighter!
18. Begin using new psychobabble to impress family, friends, or your pet. Establishing boundaries will go far with your dog that likes to chew your shoes underneath the bed.
19. Keep a journal of your newfound thinking and activities.
20. Stare at your blank spiral notebook or computer screen to be sure you know what you’re doing. Scratch your head or hold your hand to your mouth with a contemplative stare off in the distance.
21. Now that two weeks have passed, you can’t return the book to the local bookseller and you’re probably afraid to return it to the library. Proceed to the next crucial step.
22. Chapter three should be a breeze for those of you who really want to change your life.
23. When family and friends ask about your progress, use the LARK Method: List your goals, Avoid telling the truth, Reconfirm why you’re doing this to yourself, and Know that it won’t be too long before they figure out you’re lying.
24. If all else fails, repeat these steps until you achieve the goal of losing weight, running a marathon, finding the love of your life, or mending the relationship with your estranged family member.