How to Set and Actually Reach Your Goals

It’s that time of year when we are all being inundated with goals, plans, intentions, words of the year, etc.. It might just be the time of year that spurs us on to think we can and should do things better, or maybe it’s the pressure of others. Regardless, if you find yourself in this position, I have knowledge to share with you to help you set and actually achieve your goals this year and beyond!

For those of you who don’t know, I have been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor since 1997. When I started blogging almost 7 years ago, I wanted to do something completely unrelated to mental health and psychology; I wanted to do something creative and fun! But as I have learned, this is who I am and this kind of content is beneficial to you, my readers. This year you will see more of this side of me and I hope you like it!

How to Set and Actually Achieve Your Goals

One of the biggest stumbling blocks we encounter when it comes to crushing our goals is that we don’t really know how to set them in the first place! Now that may sound silly but it’s true. Let’s start with first things first, how to set a goal.

Steps to Set Goals

Sometimes setting a goal can feel a lot like wishing or dreaming. You may find yourself closing your eyes and imagining your “perfect life.” That may be fine and good if you want to merely dream but if you want to actually achieve something, you’ll need to focus on a few things first. If you are familiar with setting SMART goals, these steps will sound very familiar!

The first step in setting a goal is to ask yourself what it is AND why you want to achieve it. Note the words in bold type. Goals need to be meaningful and important to you and only you if you will achieve them. Human nature tells us that if something is important to us we usually find the time for it, make it happen, engage in it, etc. Make sure the goal you set is for you and not for someone else.

The second step is to be specific when it comes to goal setting. Make sure your goal is clear and concise. In goal setting there is no room for ambiguity or vagueness; that’s called dreaming!

Now that your goal is important to you, it’s clear and concise, be sure to make it measurable. For example, this time of year many people want to lose weight. While that’s an admirable goal, what does it actually mean? One pound? Ten pounds? How will you know you’ve achieved it? By making your goal measurable you are taking steps to making it achievable.

Finally, set a time frame in which this goal will be met. Back to the weight loss goal mentioned above, rather than just saying “I’ll lose weight this year” be more specific, how much weight will you lose and by when. Good goal setting allows for regular check ins, with steps taken along the way so we can be sure we can stay the course AND that the goal is a good fit with our life.

Achieving the Goals You Set

Don’t be up set by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.

I have searched but cannot find who to credit with that quote, but it’s one I love! Quite frankly when we don’t achieve the goals we set for ourselves, it’s either because we didn’t follow the steps outlined above OR we just didn’t do the work. Most of the time, we fail to set an achievable goal, we exhaust ourselves trying and we throw in the towel. It’s why gyms are crowded in January and empty by Valentine’s Day!

This is not the time to makeover your entire life! Start with a few well thought out goals that mean the most to you. It might be just one and that is okay. Write down that goal along with the steps you will take to achieve. Schedule check ins so you can see if tweaks need to be made to your plan. Identify resources you can use for assistance. Is it a friend or professional? A website or book? Be sure to list at least a few resources you can turn to when you need support.

Allow for progress over perfection. Probably the best way to explain this is by reminding you that if you broke a dish you wouldn’t throw away the entire set. Many years ago I had a lot of weight to lose and I joined Weight Watchers. Each week I steadily lost weight until one week (about 3 months in) I gained a pound. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt and I feared that I hit the hated “plateau” that so many members in my meeting complained about. But when I took the time to focus on what I was doing it became clear to me that I was getting a little sloppy with measuring and tracking. I had to ask myself if continuing on my weight loss journey was important to me and whether I wanted to continue or if I was okay to stop right then and there. After all, I had actually lost weight, why keep going? For me the answer was that yes, I wanted to keep going and I was willing to put in the work so I did. Eventually I met my weight loss goal and even ended up working for Weight Watchers as a leader for 15 years.

It is important to re-evaluate your goals and your why from time to time. It’s also okay to change the goal along the way. Remember, this is about YOU and what YOU want. If you are willing to put in the work you can achieve your goals. Keep in mind that setting goals means you will make changes, you will do things differently and this will require work. Are you up for it? Is this a good time for you? If the answer is no, then I urge you to re-visit goal setting at another time.

Imagine what your life will feel and look like when you have achieved your goal. How will things be different? Will the quality of your life be better? How will this impact those around you?

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Tying it All Together

If there is just one thing I could leave you with it would be this. Set goals that are meaningful to you, a good fit with your life, and make them measurable. You can and will achieve those goals if you check in on your progress regularly, know where to turn for help, and you are willing to do the hard work it takes.

Please tell me in the comments if you are setting goals this year, I’d love to know! I hope you find this information helpful and thank you for being here as always!

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