How many times have you made a New Year’s Resolution and mid-year realized you made no progress and the resolution is now forgotten? (If you could see me, my hand is raised.) Yes, I am a therapist and I’ve failed at New Year’s Resolution’s. I can’t say how many times this has occurred, but I remember the feelings of guilt and shame for not succeeding at a New Year’s Resolution, which we might also call a goal.
Let’s talk about goals and why we either succeed or don’t succeed with them.
Many mental health professionals use a common format, SMART, when creating goals with clients. Why? It prevents clients from feelings of failure and becoming overwhelmed with expectations. There are various definitions of a SMART goal, but here is a snap-shot of what to aim for. When creating a goal, ask yourself the following:
Is your goal Specific?
Is your goal Measureable?
Is your goal Attainable or Action oriented?
Is your goal Realistic?
Is your goal Time-sensitive?
If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, you may then face greater difficulty meeting and following through with your goal.
Many of us create goals around weight loss or improving a part of our lifestyle. However, these goals are often too broad and not defined very well. When this happens and we have not achieved the goal, we feel defeated and ultimately “give up” on or lose interest in the goal. For some people, it might not be realistic to lose 20-30 pounds or “go to the gym” every day. Did you give yourself enough time to lose 20-30 pounds? Is going to the gym all that is needed to lose those pounds? I’m starting to feel defeated just writing about this goal!
Besides the SMART format, here are a few other ways to aid you in achieving your goal:
- Motivation– Why are you creating this goal and what is the ultimate purpose? Typically, goals are created due to the current fad or trend or because someone suggested the change. The question, is do YOU want the goal and outcome associated wit the goal?
- Knowledge– Let’s go back to our prior weight loss example. Sure you know you need to lose a few pounds (or at least that’s what your wife/husband/partner/doctor/best friend/current TV personalitysaid), but do you know HOW to lose that weight? Just because you saw a 20 minute segment about a current trend does not mean it will work for youwithout the knowledge of WHY or HOW it works.
- Individuality-Unless you are a human clone, you are a UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL. That means you are not the same as any other person on this earth. What works for your best friend might not work for you. Again, knowledge and resources will help you here too.
Don’t give up on those past New Year’s Resolutions, but make them work for YOU!