Tag: goal setting

Setting Goals

Often we are facing the fact, regardless of the time of year, that our New Year’s Resolutions may not be as achievable as we once thought. In fact, nearly 92% of people don’t achieve New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not because people aren’t motivated, and it’s not because the resolutions they set weren’t “good enough.” Most people believe they are motivated, and their resolutions are based in wonderful ideas of self-improvement. We genuinely want to work toward personal growth and to start building the life we want. So why is it so difficult to achieve goals?

The reason we find it so difficult to achieve goals stems from how we set them.

When we set goals, we often are focused on a few things:

  • What we’ve heard works for other people.
  •  An arbitrary threshold to meet.

Usually, we aren’t even aware that we’re doing this. Some examples are:

  • We decide we want to lose 15 pounds, although there is no basis for the number “15” – it’s just one we chose.
  • We set a goal to go to yoga three times a week, although we’re not sure if three times will be enough or too much/too few times to
    practice and gain benefits.
  • We’ve read an article, blog post, or book that’s inspired a goal – like running a certain distance, saying three things we like about our partner each day, etc.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these goals. They’re wonderful! However, if they do not resonate with you or hold meaning for you, then they’ll be significantly harder to achieve.

Focus on the Outcome You Want to Achieve – Then Set a Goal

Instead of setting difficult goals for yourself, and feeling deflated when you find they’re harder to work towards than you thought they’d be, let’s try something different. Focus on the outcome first, then set the goals you’d need to achieve to reach that desired outcome. The “outcome” you’re working toward likely isn’t tangible. Although your goal is to lose weight, the desired outcome is increased self-esteem and better physical and emotional health. Focusing on the life changes you want and setting goals that lead to those changes will help you to stick with them. Once you have decided upon an outcome, set goals that can be measured.

For example, you might want to feel more connected to your partner. A goal that could help you achieve that feeling would be to commit to a once-a-week coffee date outside of the home where you catch each other up on what’s going on in your lives. You may already have these conversations casually but setting aside dedicated time can help you feel connected.

Setting goals does not have to be a stressful process. By focusing on what you want your life to look like as a first step, the goals you want to stick to will fall naturally into place.

Do you need a vacation…or a more balanced life?

sunset over waterI love vacations. They are chances to see new sites and enjoy activities you may not typically incorporate into your daily schedule. Putting yourself in a new location can be invigorating to body and mind, as you are having different experiences than usual.

However, if you mainly use vacations as escape from your normal reality, you might want to examine the level of balance in your life. If your daily life is unbalanced, a vacation will merely be a quick fix and not help the underlying issue.

Imagine if you didn’t need a vacation in order to feel calm and centered, but could find that in your every day?

If you feel your life is unbalanced, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you overscheduling yourself? If so, consider ranking to-do’s and commitments by importance and complete them in that order. That way, you will accomplish what is most productive, supportive, and essential to you. Eliminating those “should” tasks can add more time and increase your level of satisfaction.
  • What is causing you overwhelm? Is it something you can delegate or ask for help with? If not, can you choose to shift your perspective on what you perceive to be stressful?
  • How often do you feel tired/sick and what is the cause? Is it poor nutrition, lack of sleep, or your thoughts? These are all factors that play a role in decreased energy and health.
  • How soon do you feel burned out after returning from a vacation? Try to remember what the precursors were to your last burnout. Did a particular thing, or combination of things, happen that led to it? Finding clues to what causes you to “need a vacation” is helpful for keeping an eye on in the future so you can make adjustments before burnout happens.

Now that you have explored your past life-balance history, write a vision of your life in the future. What could your life look like on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis if it were balanced? What are you doing in that vision? How do you feel? Determine how you could make aspects of your balanced life into realistic goals to achieve.

Vacations are not solutions to an unbalanced life. Focusing in on possible causes of imbalance, steps to regain balance, and how you desire to see your life in the future will bring more equilibrium and joy to your life. Vacations will be even more enjoyable when you don’t dread returning to the “real world”!

Realistic Goal Setting

tree growth

Many of us have imagined having, doing, and experiencing things that are not part of our present life. When we desire those things to come true, we’ve identified a goal. But how do we best ensure that our goals become a reality? Here is one way to go about it:

1) Determine what it is you want.

It seems like a given if you are making goals, but often we forget to clarify what we want and why. Articulate to yourself what result you want to see happen (the goal) and how it will benefit you.

2) Ask yourself if there is more than one path to your goal.

Often, there are several ways to achieve the same result. If your first attempt does not work out as you plan, it is helpful to have another tactic already thought out. This realization also helps you remain flexible in your journey.

3) Brainstorm your steps.

What will you need to know, learn, develop, practice, and so on, in order to achieve your goal? If your goal is to build a house, there are many steps to complete, many of which need to be in a particular order. If you aren’t sure what steps are involved, do some preliminary research. After getting an idea of the process, ask yourself again if this goal is what you want, revisiting the reason behind it as well. It is one thing to put yourself through a long or challenging journey for a goal you truly desire. It is quite another to subject yourself to an arduous journey only to realize the effort, time, and resources were not worth attaining the goal.

4) Give yourself a due date.

Setting a goal with an “achieve by” date provides a sense of urgency to start taking action as soon as possible. If you normally give yourself too much time for your goals, set your goal date sooner than feels comfortable, which will lovingly encourage you to begin now. If you normally place an end date on your goals that you don’t achieve, put more thought into what kind of time you have to dedicate to your goal and what steps are required to get there. Setting an unrealistic timeframe unnecessarily puts you in a position to fail, which over time, can result in a negative attitude toward goal setting.

5) Write down your goal.

Write your goal down on the top of a blank sheet of paper, or in a blank document on your computer. It is easy to forget our goal when we only keep it in our head. Also write the due date down. Studies show that those who transfer goals from head to paper are more likely to achieve them.

6) Plan backwards.

Starting from your decided due date and working backwards, write down what steps you will have taken by that point. If you believe your goal will be achieved in 6 months, you may want to go backward each month to one month from now, then backward each week, listing steps to achieve along the way in support of your goal. As you get closer to today, try to be more detailed in your steps. Chunk down any “big” steps down into smaller pieces so it is easy to see what the next step is, and to combat any feelings of overwhelm.

7) Hold yourself accountable.

Committing to your goal is the first step to the success of your goal. This may be signing a contract with yourself as a symbolic gesture of your promise. If you would like more support and accountability, share your goal and due date with others. With whom, and to what extent, is up to you. It is best to choose those whom you know to be supportive and positive. Although it is wonderful to receive encouragement and progress requests from others, remember that you are responsible for taking consistent action on your goal. Keep your goal and plans where you will see it each day.

8) Celebrate the little “wins.”

Check off each step as you make progress and take some time to recognize your achievement. Do something supportive and loving for yourself to celebrate. Positive reinforcement helps us look forward to and take the next step.

Setbacks, perceived failures, and obstacles are often part of the journey to achieving your goals. However, following the tips here will provide a foundation for a clear, actionable path to a goal you truly desire, thereby setting you up for a more enjoyable, successful experience.

Have You Been Told to ‘Become a New You’ in the New Year?

I’d like to encourage you to think critically about the ‘become a new you in the New Year’ notion. We’ve all heard it, right? While the phrase is cloaked in positivity, the idea of becoming a new you is actually rooted in negativity. It infers that who you are is not enough.

I challenge you to change your mindset from becoming a new you to becoming a new version of yourself in the New Year. Many of us tell ourselves this: ‘If I just make it through this holiday season, then I’ll emerge on the other side with the motivation to become a new person.’ What if, instead of limiting yourself to merely ‘making it through,’ you opened the door of abundance in your own life? Change your thinking to thriving instead of existing.

Did you know that setting your intention is the most effective catalyst for meaningful change? The power of the mind is astonishing. Let’s say your goal for the New Year is to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. The moment you decide to change your thinking from simply ‘making it through’ to ‘thriving,’ you begin to see open doors where there was once only dead-ends.

I want to give you a very basic example that can be applied to many circumstances and situations. Picture yourself at a holiday party. Holiday treats abound. If you were stuck in a negative mindset, the situation would likely end in you eating mindlessly, all the while telling yourself, “It’s okay, just make it through this holiday season – you’re going to be a new person in the New Year.” The problem with this thinking is that you are not giving yourself a manageable and positive path to success. How will you reach your goals if your negative thinking and habits don’t change?

Now, picture yourself getting ready for that party. You’re anticipating a spread of holiday indulgences and you want to enjoy yourself – so, you think ahead. Since you have decided to set your intention to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Why wait until New Year’s Day to start? Won’t it be much more fulfilling to make small decisions and changes now through New Year’s Day, so that you have some momentum to keep going? You decide to have a healthy snack at home before the party so that once you’re there, you can enjoy your favorite things, but you don’t over do it, and afterwards, you feel great!

Yes, this is a very simple example, but what I want you to see is that it can be applied to any goals you are reaching for in the New Year. You can choose the healthier, more fulfilling path by thinking positively and planning ahead, or you can make it much more difficult by taking the dead-end path of negativity.

Also, no matter what your goal for the New Year might be, please take this to heart: You do not need to become a new person. You are unique. All of your life’s events and circumstances have helped form who you are. Why would you want to abandon that? I challenge you to create a new version of YOURSELF in the New Year!