At the end of 2018, people set their sights on new resolutions for 2019. Resolutions were made to eat healthier, lose weight, exercise more, drink less alcohol, save more money, and pay off debt. But how many of these same resolutions will people carry over into 2020?
The problem is that we set ourselves up to fail when we make resolutions. Just making broad statements can cause emotional stress when you look at the enormity of the task. For example, when someone decides they want to lose 60 to 100 pounds in the next year, the sheer magnitude of this task might overwhelm the person. They end up dropping that resolution only a week or two into the new year.
Let’s stop setting resolutions. Instead, we are going to set specific and realistic goals in a healthy manner.
Why Set Goals?
Achieving goals provides you with a sense of completion. When you set your mind on something and accomplish it, you receive a boost in your self-confidence and self-esteem. Goal setting requires focus and concentration. You must put in the hard work to achieve the goal.
Unfortunately, too many people coast through life without any clear goals. They live day by day with the same routine. These people also tend to complain that life never changes for them or that other people get good things, but never them.
You can change this negative self-talk. You have the power to dream and to envision what needs to be done. The Bible states that “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” (Proverbs 29:18), acknowledging that each person (and community) has dreams and goals.
Setting the right types of goals can change your life. Determination and focus can help you stop bad habits and make new healthy habits a reality. It’s all in how you can break down these goals into manageable mini-goals. In the past, at the beginning of a new year, you may have tried to tackle all your resolutions with gusto and extreme focus. Burn out is inevitable when you try to change too much at once.
You want to approach goal setting with grace and peace of mind. Focusing on a specific goal can also take your mind off a problem you are having in another area. For example, if work or family relationships are stressful, you can concentrate on accomplishing your health and fitness goals to de-stress and silence any anxious thoughts.
Types of Goals
Healthy individuals are well-rounded in all areas of life and you will want to set goals in more than one area. There are several types of goals you can work on throughout the year.
- Personal Goals – Personal goals might include practicing self-care consistently, reading more books, purging and updating your wardrobe, learning a new language, or traveling to another country.
- Professional Goals – Professional goals could be working to reach Employee of the Month, earning a promotion, reaching a new level at work, or writing a book.
- Financial Goals – Financial goals include saving money, paying off debt, investing more, diversifying your portfolio, or starting a side hustle/second job.
- Family and Friends Goals – Your Family and Friends goals could be to spend more quality time with your children, go on more date nights with your spouse, or spend one day a month with your friends.
- Spiritual Goals – Spiritual goals can include reading through the Bible, spending time in prayer and worship every morning, attending certain Bible studies throughout the year, or praying a certain prayer daily.
- Home Goals – Home goals include selling your home, finding a larger place to rent, updating the kitchen and bathroom, redecorating the master bedroom, or painting the exterior of your house.
- Health Goals – Health goals can be working to normalize your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, losing weight, improving your fitness level, or making progress in therapy.
The examples above are realistic goals but are not considered specific. You will want to narrow down each goal in an area into a specific, realistic, and manageable goal. For example: You want to lose weight for your health goal. The specific goal might be to lose 40 pounds over the next 12 months.
You can then break down this goal even further and say you want to lose nine pounds over the next 90 days. Nine pounds in three months sounds less overwhelming than the original 40-pound goal.
Choosing Realistic Goals
Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure by choosing unrealistic goals. It’s important to think through each goal individually and decide if you can accomplish the goal within that time frame. Referring to the example of the person who wants to lose 40 pounds, it would be an unrealistic goal for that person to try to lose 40 pounds in only 30 days. However, by moving the time frame to a more realistic time period, they are more likely to accomplish their goals.
You will want to choose goals that are realistic, but also challenging. Setting the goal of reading 24 books in one year is realistic, but if you already read three books a month then you won’t feel challenged; achieving that goal is guaranteed. You could increase your goal by declaring you plan to read four books a month or stretch further by reading 50 books in one year.
The same principle applies to setting goals during therapy as well. You will want to choose specific and realistic, but challenging goals. If you are having issues socializing with others, you could set a goal to call one friend a week and/or have lunch with a friend once a month. This is a better goal-setting plan than to commit to attending several social events each month which could leave you feeling anxious.
Measuring Your Specific Goals
There are several ways you can measure your progress for your goals. If you set a health goal of losing weight, you can measure the progress by pounds lost, inches lost, and smaller clothing sizes. If your goal is to become stronger and fitter, you can measure the number of pushups you can do in one minute, the amount of weight you can lift in a set, or your ability to do a headstand.
Without measurement, you won’t be able to tell whether or not you are close to meeting your goal. The measurement is simply data – it is information. It’s important not to get stuck on a certain number (especially with weight loss goals) but to use the information to move you closer to your achievements.
Achieving goals is possible when you break them down into mini-goals and assign each one specific tasks. If you choose to lose nine pounds in 90 days, you could take your weight and measurements at the beginning, middle, and end of the 90-day time period to keep track of your progress. But you will also want to create daily tasks to help you meet the goal. This might look like eating three healthy meals, eating within an eight-hour window, and drinking two liters of water each day.
Don’t Forget to Reassess
Plan out times to reassess your progress and make any tweaks to keep moving forward with your goals. There will be times when you complete tasks that are ineffective or stall your progress. Try not to feel disappointed. These are natural bumps in the road to achieving your goals. Success is rarely a straight line. You will find that not everything works, but you will also uncover the tasks that will cause you to jump further ahead in your goals.
You may need to change your diet or fitness methods. If you are not reaching your goal of Employee of the Month, ask yourself what you can do to get your employer’s attention. Perhaps you should consider coming in earlier or taking the initiative on other job-related tasks.
Depending on the time period for your goals, you may want to reassess progress every week or at least once a month. Make new changes and then reassess again. If you keep an eye on your progress, then your goals stay attainable.
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