Setting realistic goals and keeping them.
How many of you have either fallen short or totally abandoned your New Year's
resolutions? I would guess most of you. It seems that it is almost expected that these goals most of us set will not be obtained. In fact, most people, from the beginning deep down know they will fail. Herein lies the problem. People actually set themselves up for continued disappointment. Can you break this cycle?
The goals you set for your New Year's resolutions are basically the same type goals we set in the rest of our lives. To reach these goals the seriousness that one has towards goals in general must be utilized otherwise failure is likely. I have divided goal setting into 4 phases: Brainstorming, Planning, Implementing, and Evaluation.
The Brainstorming phase: During this phase, begin to decide on your goal. You can be as unrealistic as you want at first. Would you like to look like Jessica Biel? Or buy a house on the beach? Travel across the world? Be a major league baseball player at 40? However, after reality sets in, start narrowing in on what exactly is realistic, such as losing 10 pounds, buying a nicer home, traveling across the continent, or joining a baseball league, etc.
What you hope to achieve from this phase is a specific goal. It can be modified later but you should really spend a great deal of time trying to understand if this is a goal that you are passionate about. If you don't choose something that has significant importance to you, your passion to pursue it will most definitely fizzle. I believe that failure to achieve your goal makes you more likely to fail to achieve
future goals no matter how unrelated. Also, achieving unrelated goals builds the belief that you will succeed in achieving all future goals, so choose carefully.
During the brainstorming phase you should answer, how much time you have to commit to your goal, how badly you want to achieve it, what are some of the obstacles that may stand in your way, and what motivates you to move through your own resistance or barriers?
The Planning Phase: take some time and ask yourself the following questions:
Are you someone that needs to write your goals down and post them somewhere that you can see them everyday? Are you someone that needs to constantly make self motivating statements to yourself? Can you continually visualize your goal coming true everyday despite no external reminders? It is critical to figure what is going to drive you to accomplish your goal. Without this self awareness, failure is likely.
Think about how you have been successful in the past and pull from what has worked. If nothing has worked then it is necessary to begin imagining what might work. During the planning phase of your goal setting is when you should reach an obtainable realistic goal, an understanding of what your barriers will be, what will motivate you to keep you going, and what kinds of rewards and/or punishments you will use. With this you should be able to concretely set up a step by step plan to accomplish your goal. Depending on if you are an ideas person or a detail oriented person you may need to be very specific.
The Implementation Phase: Here is where you "just do it." This phase is very significant because this where you either reach your goal or you bail out. If achieving goals has been a problem, it may be beneficial to keep a goal journal
and begin to examine what prevents you from following through on the implementation process.
The Evaluation Phase: The Evaluation phase is intertwined throughout your planning. However, the first time around, you would use it after approximately one month of the implementation phase. This is where you evaluate what is working, what is not working, what needs to be modified, changed, or altered. You may realize that you set an unobtainable goal and that you need to alter it. I believe that it is ok to change or modify your goal as long as you are being honest with yourself. Once you have evaluated your progress, you can go back and fourth between the different stages of goal planning to best accomplish your goal.
If you are able to reach your goals based on this formula or any other formula then there is no reason to read any further. However, many people are unable to reach their goals because there is some barrier that they cannot break through. This where i have two suggestions:
- One, utilize the goal journal and carefully analyze what was going on for you when you chose not to follow through with the plan YOU set up for yourself. You may realize that the goal you set just was not important enough to you and other things took priority.
- However, if that is not the case. It may be that you are self sabotaging yourself and therapy can best serve you. A licensed clinician can assist you in figuring out what is blocking you from reaching your goals and help you devise a more in depth psychological plan to help you achieve success.