Welcome to the middle path
- Jana Svoboda, LCSW
- Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Resolution #26: Set Reasonable Goals
The average New Year's goals are big and nebulous. Lose weight, get fit, get solvent, be happy. The goals are great; it's the objectives that are missing. Think of goals as the endpoint and objectives as yardlines, or markers on the way. You need some sort of feedback that you're making progress and the goal is acheivable to keep up your momentum.
Goals can be lofty and large, but objectives need to be concrete and measureable. Want to get fit? How will you know when you are? What will it take to get you there? These smaller steps are your guideposts, and meeting them keeps you from getting discouraged and giving up. If you are currently a couch potato and want to be a runner, you don't start by signing up for the Boston Marathon. You start by getting off the couch and getting around the block.
I know I have told this story before, but it bears repeating. Long term goals are like a lighthouse. We may never get there, but if we are heading toward the light, and reorient when we find ourselves stumbling around in the dark, we are going in the right direction. How do you know when you are in the light?
To use this resolution, pick a long term goal. Write it down. Then find two or three small changes you can make that show you are heading the right direction and commit to them. Alternately or additionally, each day notice anything you did that supports your goal. For example, if you want to be more ecologically conscious, maybe today you walked to work, ate local food for lunch, and went to the library instead of purchasing that magazine. Writing down what you did will trigger you to remain more intentional in your behavior. If you say "I am going to use my treadmill an hour a day tomorrow" and then find yourself avoiding it, start by just dusting it off and turning it on to see it still works. Maybe set a goal for walking on it for two minutes. Most likely you will decide to do three and see you've already met and exceeded your goal. Focusing on what you did right is more encouraging that despairing about what you haven't yet done. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your goal, it's too big. What's the smallest step of incremental change that will be an improvement? Try that a bit and you will probably exceed it. Your success will reinforce your efforts.
5 more to go!