I need to... lose weight, exercise more, get a new job or go back to school. Sound familiar? As we get ready to end 2013 and venture into 2014, conversation turns to goal setting. For some, goal setting is a dreaded phrase, but without it, we wouldn’t have the United States Constitution, the Hoover Dam or iPhones. “We set goals all the time,” says Carl Benedict, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Meritus Health’s Behavioral Health.
Whether it’s painting the exterior of your house or enrolling in a painting class, goal-setting tips can turn an often-considered ambition into a reality.
Create a road map of where you want to go. “To increase your chances of success you have to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve,” explains Carl. A goal should be specific, not broad. From businesses to athletes, the SMART acronym helps you define and strengthen your goal.
S – Specific (or Significant)
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding)
T – Time-bound (or Trackable)
Work on your motivation. Make a list of how your life will be better if you achieve this goal. Keep this list and your goal front and center and refer to it when your motivation is low or you’ve experienced a setback.
Separate your self-worth and goal attainment. “Tying self-worth to whether or not you achieve a goal is not good. View goal-setting as problem solving, not a test of your worth as a person,” says Carl. “Judge your behavior, not your person.”
Keep it simple. “Make the steps to achieving your goal so simple that you can’t fail,” says Carl. If your goal is to join a gym and you can’t seem to get yourself there, take it in small steps. On day one, drive by the gym. The next day, park in the gym’s parking lot and on day three, walk into the gym.
Anticipate setbacks. Know what it is that will prevent you from achieving your goal and come up with a solution for each barrier. “Bad habits talk to you when you’re weak,” explains Carl. Persevere even if it means failing and trying again.
Be accountable to someone for both your successes and setbacks. Designate a friend or relative and regularly report back on your progress or slip-ups.
Reward yourself for progress toward your goal. When you land the new job, take the family out for a celebratory dinner or weekend get-away.
Have faith. According to Carl, the first few weeks will be tough because you’re going against what the brain is expecting. “It takes time for the brain to reprogram the new routine, but if you work a well-designed program, the program will work for you.”
When to seek help
If you have a pattern of failing to reach your goals, get advice from a professional counselor or an accredited life coach. A qualified professional can help you develop a strong plan for goal achievement and uncover any hidden barriers to success.
By: Anne Gill