Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Making Achievable Goals

It's that time of year when we all start rethinking, refocusing and remaking our yearly goals. Some of us will be making the same goals as we did last year and hoping that we do better at achieving them, while others will be moving on to new goals or setting goals for the first time.  The hard part is knowing what kind of goals we can set to make sure that we are achieving them before the next year.


First, let's talk about the different kinds of goals to set.  Think of the things you want to change in your life.  Is there one specific thing or are there several different areas you'd like to change? You don't want to overwhelm yourself with a ton of goals, but if you do have more than one thing that you want to work on, split them up into categories (Exercise, work, religion....). Breaking it down into categories will make it feel not so overwhelming.

A big key to making achievable goals for the new year is to make goals that are easy to track. Gregg Clunis from the podcast Tiny Leaps, Big Changes put out a free guide to help you make better goals in 2018. He explains why making goals that are easy to track is the best way to make sure you actually meet your goals next year. He also gives a lot of great tips for creating goals in that guide.

When setting a new goal, make sure that you're setting a goal that is reachable in the amount of time that you're giving yourself. It's going to be pretty impossible to set a goal of something like "I want to lose 20 lbs in a month" and then when you don't achieve that goal in the time frame that you set, you'll get discouraged and give up on the goal altogether. So make sure you're setting goals that you know that you'll be able to achieve with some work this year.


Now let's talk about making sure that you're keeping and achieving your goals. Because once we make the goal to do something, that's when the work begins and that's when we can sometimes get discouraged or frustrated. Here are a few tips to help you stay focused and working on your goals.

1. Reminders:  Set a reminder on your phone however often you need it. It takes about 21 days to make a habit, so if the goal you're trying to make is one that is a change in habit, setting a reminder or alarm on your phone can help. Another thing that helps me remember my goals is to put sticky notes up with encouraging things written on them.  That way, when I'm feeling a little weak in whatever area I'm working in, I see a sticky note and it reminds me to keep at it. 



2. Tell someone: I know that if I tell Trev or one of my cousins or someone else that I am close to about a goal that I have, I'm way more likely to follow through because I'm more accountable for it. One thing I do when I'm planning on going running in the morning is put my running clothes and shoes out so I can see them, and Trevon can see them. I'm more likely to actually go running that way because Trevon knows, the night before, that I'm going to go. And if I don't go, he's going to ask me about it. I'm also a pretty competitive person, and pretty stubborn. So if I tell someone that I have a goal to run a race or to make a quilt or, anything else really, I can't not do it and then have them bring it up. I have to prove that I followed through with things.

Telling people also gives you cheerleaders. The more you tell, the more people you have that will celebrate with you when you reach the goal. It might also encourage others to join you. I had a goal of running a half marathon, I told my cousin and she wanted to do it too. So for a summer, we worked together, we ran at least once a day until we could run far enough that we felt confident entering. We ended up running much more than a half marathon, but that's a story for another day. Telling other people about your goals also gives you someone to remind you of them when you start to forget. If you and your spouse have the same goal to buy a ho you can give each other a gentle reminder by asking how big of a need it actually is and reminding each other of your goal. 

3. Incentives: Give yourself one incentive for each goal you accomplish. Just like your boss would give you an incentive for making a goal at work, or the incentive you gave your 3-year old for potty training, give yourself something for all the work you're putting into your goal. For me, the incentive for running is that I will be able to sign up for and PR at another race. But you could reward yourself with a special treat that you don't normally get, or a pedicure or spa day. Really whatever gets you excited about finishing something works great! 

4. Start small:  Don't burn yourself out. In high school, I did this way too often with running. I'd injure myself because I'd push too hard for too long and not listen to my body. I think this is the same with anything though, not just running or sports. Setting a goal that you can break down into smaller goals helps you meet your big goal in the end because you're taking tiny steps at a time and you see your progress easier that way.  Break your goals up into smaller, trackable goals so that you can see your progress as you go.

5. Set a date. Mark a date on your calendar for each goal you want to accomplish.  Marking a date gives you the feeling that there is an end in sight. It helps you know when your goal should be accomplished in order to get your incentive.



6. Big picture: When you start to get discouraged, remind yourself to step back and remember why you made this goal in the first place. It's ok to have a few off days here and there, but don't lose sight of what you're working for. When there is a setback, pick back up where you started and push through it.

What do you do to help you or your children keep on track with your goals?

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