Most of us don’t enjoy change. In fact, as we grow older we tend to resist it more. Change can feel overwhelming; and if we don’t know where we are in the process and how to be effective we can definitely lose our motivation and momentum in reaching our goals.
In the last issue of Living Well News we talked about Planning for Change. Planning is the most intensive part of the change process.
Contemplating change and assessing our needs takes time and cannot be rushed. Setting our goals and outlining the steps to reach them is our map. Sounds basic, but is it? How do we ensure that our map is realistic? That we are setting ourselves up for success?
Setting goals is not easy. Most of us have several goals that we are trying to work towards, but we can only focus on one at a time. Health and changing lifestyle behaviors are often at the top of many goals’ lists.
Whether you are trying to enhance your health status, stabilize or put a chronic condition – like depression, addiction, pain – into remission, the key to success is setting goals. Setting goals helps us focus and maximize our commitment.
SMART Goals – Do It Right!
Goal setting should be done with the SMART methodology in mind:
Specific: “Reduce stress by getting more sleep, eating better, exercising and practicing mindful breathing.” (click here to watch a video on mindful breathing)
Measureable: If you are inclined to get overwhelmed and upset throughout the day, measure how often you are having these experiences and log them as to when they occurred and what prompted your response. Track this behavior.
Achievable: Make sure that your goal is meaningful to you and that you are aware of how achieving it will improve your life. Notice how meeting your goal may also impact other facets of your life in a positive way and keep that in mind. “In becoming less anxious, I am able to pay attention more easily and enjoy other people and activities more often. I see more opportunity.”
Realistic: It is positive that your goal requires you to challenge yourself a bit, but not in a way that is out of reach for you. Make sure that you can sustain what is required of you. Working out for 90 minutes a day may not be possible on a consistent basis.
Time-Based: Set a time of completion for your goal. “I will stop working at 5:30 pm every day” or “I will not bring work home with me” or “shut my Smart phone down after work.” “By spring I will have changed my work schedule.”
Make Goals Manageable
Make goals manageable by breaking them down into mini-goals, and then tasks.
Perhaps you desire weight loss of 30 pounds. That can feel like a lot. But, if you break it down into 5 pound mini- goals and then tasks, it becomes more manageable: shopping for fresh veggies and fruits on Sunday afternoon , eating two fruit / daily and a salad or greens daily, 20 minutes of weight bearing exercise three times per week in the morning, four 30 minute brisk walks in the morning, and two extra glasses of water per day.
As you are aware of what you are doing and it feels achievable without creating too much disturbance to your schedule, you will feel more positive, confident, and in control. In turn, you will be more relaxed about the changes and will enjoy your everyday life because you are “taking care of business.”
Taking these steps also helps you master the skill of reshaping behavior, which can be applied to many parts of your life. Before you know it, what seemed impossible from the outset feels possible and within reach.
Can you imagine what your life would be like if you followed through with one task per day that invested in your future?