Last month I was going through a distraction funk. I was feeling overwhelmed and stretched thin. A million work ideas and projects I want to bring into fruition were flying through my head, coupled with a piling to do list from our newly purchased home. I ended up taking a few days off to recharge and reconnect.
Before I jumped back into my day to day grind, I made a point to not go back into the same distracting habits…namely my endless and unrealistic to do list.
Getting rid of to do lists and instead setting 2-3 SMART weekly goals for myself has always been a very helpful way for me to stay on task, reduce overwhelm, and get things done. The science supports this. Goal setting helps to create an awareness and recognition of where we are, where we want to be, and what tools we already have to get ourselves there. I somehow fell out of the habit, so I thought it was time for a self-refresher. I just got distracted again and never posted it…so here we go.
SET SMART GOALS
Use the SMART acronym to keep your goal setting simple and focused. Don’t over do it - pick 2-3 goals at a time to keep you moving forward.
Be as specific as possible. Make sure to answer Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why? in your goal.
Example: I will go to the gym and workout 45 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday for better health vs. I will get in better shape.
Define clear criteria for measuring your progress towards achieving each of your goals. Measuring your progress holds you accountable, helps you stay on plan, and gives you a sense of accomplishment and achievement that propels you forward.
Setting clear, wise, & specific goals within a time frame helps give structure for attaining your goals. Almost anything can be accomplished when you lay the framework in which to move from. I find that the more I intentionally take steps towards my goals, the more possibilities open up to me that were previously clouded. Success fuels more success, so making your goals attainable only helps you accomplish even more.
A goal is realistic only in relationship to the effort in which you are ready to perform. You have to be willing and capable of doing the work necessary to get there. Goals should not be so easy that there is little sense of accomplishment, but should not be so high that they will take forever to achieve. Challenging goals will inspire more motivation than a low set goal. Achieving that first goal will encourage more positive progress.
Goals need time frames to foster urgency and motivation to achieve it. Make it realistic and specific. If I tell myself I need to lose 10lbs I can put diet & exercise off day after day. If I tell myself I need to lose 10lbs in 3 months, I have a clear deadline encouraging me to keep doing what I need to do in order to accomplish it.
IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS & MAKE THEM REALISTIC
In order to set meaningful goals we must be aware of what our strengths and limitations truly are. Goals should be attainable but challenging. Having clear and measurable goals helps to evaluate performance and identify the steps needed for improvement.
If you have a hard time pinpointing and focusing down your goals into actionable plans, keeping a mental training log for 3-4 weeks is a great tool. It will help to identify the beliefs, thoughts, and habits that impact your performance in the area that you want to change. Keep a journal or utilize a note storage app to record a daily inventory. In the 24 hours after each activity (the thing you want to change) write down your inner thoughts, feelings, reactions, strengths, and frustrations. Pay attention to your inner dialogue.
Did you put yourself down?
How did that affect your performance?
What did you do that was particularly helpful or efficient?
What led up to that moment?
Also release any negativity into your journal. Use it as a place to let go of your frustrations and self doubt. It’s important to stay aware of all aspects of our experience. Use your journal as a learning tool to build the foundation for a stronger and more clear mental outlook. After 3-4 weeks review your log.
What patterns do you see?
What do you need to work on?
What are you really good at?
What relationship is there between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors/outcomes?
Once you have identified areas that need to be addressed it’s much easier to clearly define your goals.
Still having trouble clearly defining your goals?
TRY THIS EXERCISE:
Write your answers to the following questions as they come, without evaluating or placing judgements on them. Afterwards review your answers, assign them into categories, and rank them by priority. Think about when you started with your current goal or activity.
What inspired you?
What did you want to accomplish when you started?
What do you want to accomplish now?
Where do you want to go in the future?
GOAL SETTING THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Some issues to be aware of so you don’t unintentionally derail your efforts.
Avoid vague or inappropriate goals. They decrease motivation and feelings of self worth.
Do it for you. Only you can control your own behavior. Your goals must be something that YOU want to pursue and achieve. Pursuing the goals that others have set for you can lead to resentment, poor performance, and decreased mood.
Don’t beat your self up. We aren’t perfect. Focus on your strengths, and do more of what works.
View changes as experiments - trying things on to see what fits.
Don’t focus on too many things at one time. Break it down.
Don’t forget your motivation. What is the reason behind your efforts?