In my last blog I talked about making healthy life changes. I briefly touched on setting goals. In this blog I’m going into more details about setting goals and the best way to do this. I’m a goal setter, whether it’s something hard like going back to school to get my masters, moving across the country or smaller such as getting my garden started, or learning a new hobby. I believe in goal setting, setting goals can give you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge and helps to organize your time and resources so that you can make the most of your life.
Some important reasons for setting goals are:
- Goals help us live longer, and we have more energy. One of the best examples of this is Viktor Frank’s book “Man’s Search For Meaning.” He was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, he set goals for himself and tried to use positive thinking to help him survive the horrors of it.
- Goals can keep you motivated during a tough time. When we are having a rough patch in our life, focusing on our long-term goal can help with our mood and resilience.
- Goals provide vision and direction. When people are stuck and are unsure of what to do next, setting a long-term goal can help get us unstuck and give us a new direction.
- Goals setting can provide a path for us. When we set a long-term goal, our short-term goals can lead us in a direction we didn’t know existed until then.
- Goals help us learn and grow as people. When we set goals they will help give us more self-confidence as we accomplish the small goals that lead to the bigger goals.
The following are some steps you can do to start setting goals:
- Pinpoint what it is that is important to you. I generally start by having clients write down their twenty top core values. When we know what our values are they can help give us a direction. If you want to accomplish your goal, you must have something that is important to you. Being the first of the year, many people want to start being healthier, mentally, physically, financially or all of the above.
- Determine what is your long-term goal. Overall good health. This can include all of the above or it can be one of them. This is your long-term goal, it can be a broad goal as overall good health, in the next step we are going to break it down to more specific things.
- Determine your short-term goals. This is the step people tend to get stuck in. They make the short-term goals too broad, or too big and set themselves up for failure. Can do something as follows:
- I’m going to walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes.
- I’m going to start making one healthy meal a week.
- I’m going to start putting $50 into my savings account per paycheck.
These goals are small. And this is what you want. This step is very important in that you want to make sure the goal is attainable and what you know you will do. I hear people say “I’m going to start going to the gym five days a week for an hour.” When they haven’t seen the inside of a gym in years. This is not a sustainable goal. Make it smaller. The smaller the better, you want to gain self-confidence in your goals setting. One of the other questions I get is when to increase the goal. As a general rule I tell people to start at 30 days. After the 30 days evaluate your progress, has it become close to being habit? Or are you struggling? If you are close to making it a habit now is the time to increase it, again small increases. Example:
- I’m going to walk 3 times a week for 40 minutes.
- I’m going to make two healthy meals a week.
- I’m going to start putting $75 into my savings account per paycheck.
Every two weeks after the initial first thirty days you will evaluate where you are at. Ask yourself again are you ready for the increase? Then do it in small ways. Are you struggling a little? Then leave the goals as they are. Are you struggling more days than you aren’t? Then make the goal smaller. At this stage do not give up! Keep going.
- Set a time-line for your long-term goal. Do you want to be living a healthier lifestyle in one year? Two years? Six months?
- Set a start-date. When are you starting the short-term goals? Put it on your calendar. Make plans to start it. For example, you want to give yourself time to buy the groceries for your new healthy meal. Do you have weekends off? Then which day are you going to make the meal? Do you need to adjust your payments to other people in order to make the payment to yourself? Do you need to lower your going out budget? Make sure you are giving yourself enough time to get started.
- Commit a block of time. If you are going to walk three days a week, which three days are you going to walk and what times are you going to walk. Put them on your calendar as a reminder.
- Write down your long-term and short-term goals. Keep track of your progress.
- Get an accountability partner. Make sure you are okay with this person being able to call you out in a nice way if you aren’t doing what you need to do. This means when they do, you cannot get irritated and mad at them.
I have clients who struggle with goals, due to past failures, this is why I cannot stress enough how important it is to have several small goals to accomplish your long-term goal. You are going to have setbacks and that’s okay. Don’t give up! This is why for some it’s important to have an accountability person to be a cheerleader when you are struggling. If you would like help with setting long-term goals and breaking them down into small goals. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.