A Guide to Setting Healthy Goals
“New year, new me!” If you’ve managed to go without hearing that phrase until now, congratulations. As we turn the page to a New Year, it’s common to have feelings about the highly idealized topic of resolutions and goal setting. While it is healthy and good to have goals to work toward, a lot of important nuance about the reason we set goals and what it truly requires to reach them is left out of the conversation. As a result, we may find ourselves spending energy trying to reach goals for the wrong reasons, or even the wrong goals for our own purposes entirely. While goal setting is top of mind, let’s dive into a few ways we can set goals successfully to experience the healthy benefits of achieving something we’ve set our mind to.
Check your vision
Before setting healthy goals, it can be helpful to take a step back to consider your larger vision. What direction would you like to see your life take? This step is crucial to ensuring the goals that you pick are directly influenced by the life you want to be living as a result of accomplishing them. When we don’t take the time to make sure that the goals we’re setting align with our long-term dreams, the chance of being influenced by external factors increases.
For example, it may feel inspiring to scroll through your favorite influencer’s motivational videos. However, without careful consideration of your own bigger vision, it becomes easier to be led by the goals of those around you rather than the goals that will be more beneficial to your ultimate destination. Checking in with your vision prevents you from being swayed by the goals of people who aren’t even heading in the direction you want to go.
Make a plan
Once you know where you’re heading, it’s time to create a plan that consists of some long-term goals and short-term goals. Keep in mind that this is a general guideline that you can return to and adjust as needed. Try not to get overwhelmed as if you’re setting these things in stone and think of them as benchmarks designed to support you along the way. When planning, you might find it helpful to ask for support from loved ones or peers who want to see you succeed. Read our recent article for more about When To Ask For Support.
This list doesn’t need to be exhaustive or final. As you begin working toward your goals, new goals may be identified and the list may change. This is normal and does not indicate failure. Adaptability is key to avoiding getting stuck or holding onto things that aren’t serving your journey any longer.
Examine your habits
Now that you’ve identified your goals, it’s time to take a look at your habits. This is an important factor that often makes or breaks our ability to reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves. If you set a goal to run a 10k but make no adjustments to the habits you currently have as a person who does not run, chances are that when it comes time to run a 10k that goal will be difficult or impossible to reach. Additionally, the timing of your habit changes matter too. Even if you start changing your habits on day 1, it’s unlikely that you’ll be running a 10k in 2 weeks. To someone unfamiliar with the goal-setting process, this news might be disappointing enough to prevent them from moving forward at all. However, to someone equipped with the understanding that small habit changes over a long period of time lead to major results, the process of achieving a goal likely seems much less overwhelming.
Identify the changes you need to make in your daily life to reach your goal. Keep in mind that small changes are highly valuable and much easier to stick to. Three minuscule changes that you can stick to for the next six months are far more powerful for progress than one huge change that you struggle to be consistent with. The less resistance you place on changes to your behavior, the higher chance you have at achieving your newly set goals.
Measure your progress
This step is an important part of goal setting and achieving as it gives you data that can be applied to your process. Measuring progress can give you insight into what habits need to change, if methods are effective, and whether the goal is bringing you closer to your long-term vision. This data makes it easier to adjust without feeling like you’ve “failed” at a goal because any changes you make are based on measured facts and not just your feelings.
Measuring your progress also gives you an opportunity to celebrate your successes and see how far you’ve come. Use this information as motivation to keep moving toward the big picture.
Last but perhaps the most important, commit to consistency. Often the most valuable changes we make in our lives do not happen overnight. When you dedicate yourself to making small changes every single day, it’s not always possible to see huge results immediately. However, these changes add up far more quickly than we realize, proving that every day wasted not taking action on our goals deprives us of progress whether we realize it or not.
Accomplishing your goals doesn’t need to hurt or make huge waves in your everyday life to be highly effective in the long run. Consistency and baby steps are key to achieving even the largest goals we have in life.
If you’re looking for support along your journey, we’d love to help here at Genesis Counseling of South Tampa. Book now to meet with a therapist who can help you navigate the process of planning and goal setting at any time of year as it pertains to your specific goals and needs.