By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
We always hear that saying, “new year, new me!”. Often people make New Year’s resolutions, and they end up not keeping them. Many of these resolutions fail for a number of different reasons like being too busy, realizing the goal is harder to reach than first anticipated, or simply not caring about achieving the goal anymore. So how do you make goals and keep them? Well, you have to make sure you pick the right goal and follow strategies that will help you reach this.
What is the right goal? Your goal must be something that you want to accomplish — not something that other people say you should do. To be able to put in the work needed to reach your goal, you must have the connection and drive to want to attain it. This goal also must be attainable. Don’t pick a goal that is near impossible to reach. Don’t expect to lose 50 pounds in one week, or instantly change all of your habits overnight. Pick a goal that you believe you can reach with hard work and dedication. Once you start working towards this goal, you may need to adjust it. You may realize that it is harder to reach than first anticipated, or you may have reached it easily, and now need to increase the goal. Make sure that you know what you are going to need to do to achieve your goal. If it’s losing weight, then that will involve eating healthier and exercising. If you aren’t ready to do this, then pick a different goal where you know you will want to, and be prepared to, put in the work.
When making your goal, make sure that it is designed for you, and not based off of somebody else’s goal. We are all different, and therefore our goals should be too. Just because some people can quit smoking without any help, doesn’t mean that may be the case for you. Goals should be specifically made to help better us and to help give us something attainable to strive to reach. If your goal is not realistic, then you will feel discouraged and give up. However, if you know you can accomplish it, then it can give you a sense of happiness and success when you finally do.
So how do you reach your goal? Well to do this, there are a few different strategies. You may want to use all of them or some of them. Use whatever ones you think will help you stay on track to reaching your goal.
An important aspect of goal setting is planning on how you are going to measure your goal. Without measuring, we don't know how far we’ve come or how far we have to go. Use a measuring tool that you think would be best for you. For example, when I’m trying to lose weight, the numbers on the scale discourage me. Instead, I measure the areas I want to see weight loss from (waist and hips). This helps me keep track of my progress, without getting discouraged by the scale. Whether it's keeping track of how many push-ups you can do, how many pages you have read in a book so far, or journaling how your life has changed since you started using relaxation techniques, measuring your progress is important. Only by measuring can we know how to improve or adjust our plan or goal, to better fit us and our schedule. By looking at your progress, it can also help fill you with a sense of accomplishment, and the motivation to keep going.
While the journey to accomplishing your goal can be hard and full of ups and downs, when you finally achieve it, you will be amazed and proud at all of the work that you have done to get there. Give yourself a chance to bask in this success. Celebrate your accomplishment; you deserve it! And then you can begin to make new goals for yourself.
While there will be times in life where we may not always reach our goals, that should not discourage us from trying. We set goals to try and better ourselves and our lives. Whether you have to adjust your goal to better fit what you can accomplish, or change your goal altogether; nothing is a failure. By trying to reach our goals, we can learn more about ourselves and what we want in life. So, keep making goals, whatever they may be, and try whatever strategies you need to achieve them.
Some more information about goal setting and strategies:
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