Setting Yourself Up for Success
New Year, New You! At the beginning of the year we often feel like it’s important to make changes, once and for all. If you find yourself setting the same goals year after year, you may need to implement new tactics to get where you want to be.
Goals give us a sense of purpose in life and to accomplish things that need to be done or that we want to do. A goal that is unclear or unimportant can be difficult to achieve. Any of these situations will interfere with not only your success but also your motivation to even begin a project. Here are some suggestions that can help stick to your goals this time.
- Look at the Big Picture. What are your long term goals? What is most important to you? When you are successful, how will your life be different? These questions can help you define what success means to you. Are you dreaming of owning your own business, getting a significant promotion, or running a marathon? These ideas will guide the goals you set and reflect the values and hopes that you have for your future life. Being able to envision a goal can make it feel real.
- Break It Down: Once the long-term goals are set, work backwards to set smaller, and more manageable goals. These should be specific, measurable and achievable (e.g.: study in the library for one hour, three times per week, instead of “study more”). Consider what you need to do daily, weekly or by the end of the year in order to succeed. Smaller goals allow you to focus on the essential steps today, to ensure you are prepared when tomorrow’s opportunities become available.
- Be Realistic: It’s important to set realistic goals and sub goals. If you commit to studying for four hours a day but have classes, work and a family to look after, or just cannot concentrate for four hours straight, then you may have difficulty sticking with your goal. Keep your goals doable. Choose goals that mesh with your other responsibilities. You may need to tweak either the goals or other priorities if you find things aren’t going well.
- Have a Deadline: Procrastination is common in human nature. Setting a time to review the work helps to increase motivation because you know that you have to have it done by a certain time. This also ensures that you slow down to review progress. Consider rewards if things are going well. If things arenot going as well as you would like, a deadline gives you a chance to pause and reflect on the current goal to see if there may be something getting in the way of being able to get it done.
- Adjust as Necessary: Anticipate ups and downs. Often it will be easier to stick to some goals than others, so allow yourself to have some flexibility in your approach and assessment. Continue to dream and adjust the end game to maintain interest and motivation. Ask yourself, is this really my goal? If it is a goal imposed by others (e.g.: boss, parents, teacher) then consider what may be in it for you. Why would you do this? There is always the option not to do it. Figure out why you’re doing it and then go for it.
- Tell a Friend: Having an accountability partner is often helpful. Let your parents or partner know what you are planning on doing. Sharing with others also helps us to develop the ideas and our vision. Writing down your goals can help to solidify them for you and help you to stay accountable.
- Keep it Positive: The human brain does not work very well in the negative. If told not to think about Pink Elephants, most peoples’ brains go straight to a Pink Elephant. When setting goals, focus on what you are going to do, rather than what you are not going to do (e.g.: study more/exercise more vs. go on Facebook less; eat more vegetables vs. don’t eat chocolate).
- Celebrate Progress: It is important to acknowledge progress each step of the way. Everything that you do to move in that direction gets you a little closer. Planning small rewards along the way can help to keep things interesting and give us a taste of what that sweet success will be like.
With these tips in mind, good luck with reaching your goals! Go for it!
Ready. Set. Breathe.
Published in the UCCI Stars, January 2015
Dr. Alexandra Bodden, Clinical Psychologist, BHAC & Adjunct Lecturer, UCCI, 746-0074 or Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org
And Ms. Heather Lockhart, Professional Life Coach, BHAC, 746-0069 or email@example.com