It is that time of year again. Many people are reflecting on the year gone by and making New Year’s resolutions or setting goals for themselves. Often things that were on the list 12 months prior are finding their way on the list again. How many times can you set the goal of “lose the last 10 pounds” or “Quit smoking once and for all?” I thought I would share some of the mistakes people make when setting goals.
1. Focus on the negative
A surefire way to make yourself feel deprived and stressed is to focus on what you are restricting or giving up. Goals like stop smoking or cut out carbs fall into this category and every time you see it written down or say it to yourself you hear “you can’t have that!”
Instead: Find a positive goal statement that will help you move forward: I will eat healthy and fresh foods, join in for meatless Mondays, and discover 5 new low carb recipes I love.
2. Select goals based on “shoulds” rather than your true desires
If you are setting a goal to lose weight because of something someone else said or what standard society pushes, then you will never find the true motivation to achieve it. Maybe deep down you are happy as you are and it is time to focus on self-acceptance of your 40 year old body rather than the battle to return to your 30 something self.
Instead: Think about changes that move you closer to your dreams and the vision you have for your life.
3. Set a broad and vague goal like “be healthier” or “improve my relationship”
With no direction or clear and specific goals you can find yourself 6 months from now wondering if you are any closer to achieving your goals. These types of goals often appear out of a clear desire, but without a true understanding of how you can get there.
Instead: develop a clearer vision of the end result and set specific steps to get you there. If you want a better relationship set mini intentional changes like finding a babysitter so you can have regular date nights, planning a romantic meal, or going technology free several evenings a week to reconnect.
4. Set a huge goal for yourself that is unattainable.
If you are currently looking to go on a big overseas holiday, but have zero savings, you are setting yourself up for failure setting a target of a scuba holiday to Bora Bora in 6 months time.
Instead: stick with the goal, but choose a holiday that you can save for based on your income levels. If you set a goal of a holiday in October that costs $4,000 you know your monthly savings goal is at least $400 to stay on target to pay it off in full. Create a plan to save that amount through cutting back on other areas, having a separate account for the money, banking any unexpected income etc.
5. Make the goal open ended rather than have a deadline
Setting out to “lose weight” or “find a new job” sounds great and you feel all fired up. Week two hits and you are still hanging out on the sofa – you will get to it “next week” or the next “Monday”.
Instead: Devise a plan of action that includes target dates for you to meet. Join Weight Watchers and go for weekly weigh ins aiming to be in a size 12 dress by your birthday. As for the above goal, instead of just aiming for a holiday this year aim for a set date you pre-book / put in those holiday dates with work. This way you have added incentive and a focused timeline.
6. Just see how you go…
If you are trying to save “money” or lose “weight” will you be just as happy with $200 as $2000 or losing 5 pounds rather than 50 pounds?
Instead: Decide in advance how you will know when you have achieved success as it relates to your life. Decide how much money you need for your holiday or how much weight it would take to get into your desired clothes. Celebrate your milestones along the way. Perhaps your goal is to save that $400 each month. If you achieve it maybe allow yourself to do one thing related to your planned trip – buy the guide book, apply for the passport, start researching sightseeing ideas.
7. Keep it a secret
It can feel vulnerable to admit your goals to others. Speaking of them draws attention to what you feel you lack . It feels safer to just attempt your goals on your own and then surprise people with your fantastic results – showing up at a party in a smaller dress or announcing to your family the great trip you are taking the kids on.
Instead: Be vulnerable and be visible. If you make your goals well known you increase your chances of achieving them. This is especially true if you can surround yourself with people who want you to achieve your goals. Find a friend who loves the gym and make her your exercise buddy. She will want to go to the gym and will expect you to stick to your plans. This partner is better than the friend who also wants to lose weight but sometimes backs out of your workouts, thus tempting you to do the same. Updating your weight loss goals publicly on Facebook or your blog may just be the accountability you need. The encouragement you get from others cheering you on may be the difference between success and giving up.
Do you set goals each year? What can you do to make sure you achieve them this year?
If you want to take a slow and steady approach and join me I will be running a 52 week challenge to simplify your life from the inside out. We will not be rushing to the end game of the changes, but first taking time to identifying our values and priorities, create a vision for our future and a mission statement to guide our paths. Then we will tackle our relationships, health, finances, time management, inner clutter and our issues with “stuff”. I will explain more details at the kick off on January 2.
If you plan to join in (and have a blog) I would love it if you displayed this wonderful button created for me by Bianca of A Little Delightful. The code is below for you to add on your blog as a button.
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Find your simple,
goal sheet (available for download at julie ann art)
I am linking up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM – check out all the other great posts!