Total Life Blog   |  The Art of Goal-Setting

The Art of Goal-Setting

The New Year is quickly approaching and that can only mean one thing for most of us: New Year’s Resolutions. The phrase conjures up all sorts of responses: dread, mockery, obligation, and probably some good intentions that won’t last much longer than January 15th. You’ve seen the result of your neighbors and friends as they band together to make their resolutions a reality. The lines are longer at your local health food store. The gym is packed beyond recognition. People are nicer, oh so much nicer.  But after just a few weeks, the probability of keeping up such an exhaustive effort proves to be too much. You finally get your gym back from the “wannabes” and your friends are back to “normal.”   I love this quote by fitness guru Jillian Michaels: “I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think people make New Year’s resolutions just because New Year’s comes around, and nobody keeps them. I believe in new day resolutions. I think every day is a new day and an opportunity to change.” What is it about New Year’s Resolutions that we just can’t manage to keep?

For one thing, we are creatures of habit. You’ve heard it said that it only takes 30 days to form a healthy pattern. If you’ve long-since established your own poor habits, thirty days feels like it could be one thousand. Think about how much easier it is to roll a huge rock downhill, rather than uphill.  With this picture in mind, we sometimes abandon our goals before we even start them.

We also have the best intentions that aren’t necessarily the most realistic. It’s great to have a goal of losing 30 pounds. But if you’ve never lost 30 pounds in your entire life, it may not be the realistic to say you can lose it in 3 months. When we set goals that we can’t reach, it only results in frustration and abandoning the goal all together.

There is also a plethora of ways to set goals: Time-Based, Qualitative, Quantitative, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound), and the list goes on.  How should we know which ones are the best? The information can be overwhelming.

So how DO you manage the art of goal-setting?

To start, you have to know yourself. Are you the type of person who gives up easily? Then qualitative goal-setting may be the way for you. Set a big goal, and chop it into smaller pieces so you can have little achievements on the path to your biggest.  Do you need a lot of affirmation to keep going? Make short term, time-based goals so that you can feel accomplished. Find ways to motivate yourself. I belong to 24 Hour Fitness and I know that they keep a record of every time I check into the gym. Every so often, I can log into my account and see all the times I’ve checked in, my average number of weekly visits, and how many times I’ve gone within the year. It’s a simple way to encourage myself, and I also feel inspired when the employees know my name whenever they see me because I’m such a frequent guest. Write down your goals and achievements. We all forget how empowering we felt when we accomplished something. Putting it on paper in a concrete format will motivate us for the long haul. Use Total Life Coach’s 2012 Goals Worksheet to get you started.

I believe one of the most assuring ways to meet and exceed your goals is to do it for yourself. In a time when we’re taught to not think of ourselves, this isn’t easy. I hear people say they go back to school for their kids, or lose weight for their husband. But the truth is if you don’t find some way to bring that goal back to how it benefits you, you’ll be right back in the New Year’s Resolution seat next December. You have to buy in to the value of accomplishing your own goals, or you won’t be able to even enjoy it when you reach it.

Finally, reaching our goals is nearly impossible without accountability. Sometimes we secretly make goals with ourselves so that if we don’t achieve them no one will notice. The flip side is, we can’t celebrate accomplishing them with others either. Even still, the likelihood of us reaching our goals is drastically reduced without the help and accountability of those around us. We all need encouragement and reminders that we set our goals for a reason. When we lose sight of those reasons, accountability is what keeps us on track.

Cecil B. De Mille said if well when he said “The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”


Author: Karly Wood

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