Sunday, January 03, 2010

Goal Setting

Many of us set goals in our lives. Many use New Years as a time to reflect and then choose a direction to move in for the year. I like to use this wording rather than resolutions because ultimately, we need some direction to move in. Once that direction is set, we need to set goals to get to that point. Goals need to be reviewed on a regular basis and modified as needed - they are not static. Goals aren't meant to be binding and restrictive; rather, goals are meant to encourage, to challenge, and to provide a measuring stick to know whether you are moving in the direction you want to go in. Goals are meant to lead to an outcome that is meaningful; something we are striving towards that moves us forward in life. And, when the appropriate goal is set, it is much more likely the goal will be met. A resolution seems much more inflexible and restricting. Either I meet the resolution and succeed or I don't and I fail. A goal is so much more encouraging because it includes an action plan.

Goal setting has also become a big part of my professional life. Right now, I have a contract where I meet with women who have come across difficult times in life and need some help moving forward in life. And, to keep my professional portfolio up-to-date, I need to continually set goals, reflect on progress, and modify as needed. ... And, of course, show evidence of meeting those goals. I've also written a lengthy paper on goal setting - the benefits, strategies that work better than others, etc.

So, why is it that I don't meet goals I set for myself? Well, sometimes I do. I do when I know there is accountability, like in my professional work. But, often, I don't. I'm sure I don't practice setting 'SMART' goals. I know I don't. I came across an article today about goal setting. The author talks about how we so often make excuses and don't accomplish our goals. She suggests instead of a 'yes' or 'no' type of goal, a 'This way' or 'That way' goal may be more likely to be met. The example of regular exercise was used - having 2 alternatives for exercise - a 1 hr swim or run and a 10 min power walk or bike ride for those busy days. The person in question often resorted to the 10 min option but then extended the time to an hour. It's easier to consider the smaller goal as something that can be done versus a bigger goal, when in fact, the smaller goal is used to reach the bigger goal. Another idea that was suggested is linking the smaller goal to something that you really look forward to. Essentially, choose a Plan B option that is easier to accomplish that is a step towards the bigger goal, and go with Plan B.

Maybe I'll have to try this. I know I would really like to do more exercise. I always like the feeling after working out - even during the work out. I really enjoy a ball exercise video that combines Pilates and Yoga moves with a ball. There is only one exercise in the whole workout that I'm not able to do physically and maybe that will come. I love the feeling after I'm done, but I think - wow - a whole hour. An hour seems so long when there's other things to do that seem to be more important. I really like aquacise too, but that's a 2 hr commitment. I know I "just have to do it" and I'll enjoy it. I wonder what a smaller option could be that would get me doing the full hour eventually at least 3x per week. Or, maybe I need to think of it as 1x/week? Ideas anyone? It's hard to commit to something when there is so much uncertainty in my life. But, maybe that's exactly when I need to commit to something.

Steinmann, D. (2010). How to make your goals happen. Meditations for Women. Retrieved on May 1, 2010 from

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