Goal Setting in the New Year
As we reign in the New Year, we are often bombarded with messages about goal setting. However, what makes these New Years’ resolutions last past January? How can we turn a seemingly impossible dream into a series of actionable steps?
What are values and why are they an important part of goal setting? Values are our fundamental beliefs that help guide the direction of our lives through our actions and attitudes. Some examples of values include loyalty, honesty, creativity, community, and passion.To begin realistic goal setting, it’s vital to clarify what our values are and what we want out of life. Start with the big picture. Depending on what stage of life you are currently in, this could be ten years in the future or a different amount of time that makes sense for you. Of course, you may also have different goals that reflect different areas of your life.
Types of Goals
You can have many types of goals whether they fall into your career, education, finances, and public service or your family life, artistic endeavors, physical pursuits, or even pleasure and attitude. Take some time to reflect on one or more goals you might have for each category. Then, decide which goals you would like to prioritize from the list you have created. For example, perhaps your main goals include going back to school to further your education, learning to rock climb as a physical pursuit, and creating more time to read for pleasure.
Stages of Goal Setting
At the early stages of goal setting, you may want to think about breaking your 10-year plan into smaller steps such as a five-year plan, one year plan, and one month plan. Think about small, actionable steps you can take each day to work towards your larger goal. In the beginning, you may focus on researching, gathering information, and reading books that will help you move towards your goal. For example, if you want to become proficient at playing an instrument, you may start with researching which instrument appeals most to you in terms of affordability and recommended practice time, what classes or teachers are available in your area, and what equipment you might need. Focus on expressing your goals in a positive manner that reflects what you want rather than what you don’t want.
When creating a goal, it can be helpful to write it down so you have a visual component you can refer back to and the goal feels more tangible. Try utilizing the SMART Goals acronym meaning that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. A specific goal involves providing as much detail as possible so there is no question about what needs to be accomplished, who is responsible, and what steps need to be taken in order to achieve it. Along with this, goals are most useful when they are measurable and progress can be determined. Pay attention to dates, amounts, and times associated with your goal. Attainability is a consideration that ensures you are creating realistic goals given your current economic, social, cultural and time resources and not setting yourself up for failure or discouragement. A goal should also be relevant to you and your life. Evaluate why this goal is important to you and how it will benefit you or others. Lastly, set a timeframe for the goal in order to hold yourself accountable by having a deadline to work towards.
When you reflect on the progress you have made with your goals, think about your individual performance and the amount of effort you put into the goal rather than the outcome which may not be something you can always control. Remember, you can always adjust your goals as you go so they are tailored to meet your specific needs. Continue to check in with yourself as you progress and create change where needed. Reach out to a mental health professional for support and additional resources to help you create the life you want.