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Effective Goal Setting: How To Make Your Goals More Attainable

Effective goal setting is the key to success. However, we often make goals for ourselves that are counter-productive to what we truly wish to achieve. Setting goals ineffectively can lead to adverse outcomes and can sometimes cause more confusion than relief.  Here are some tips on how to successfully make goals.

1.)    Clearly define what you want to accomplish.

Don’t make goals that are ambiguous. Clearly define what it is that you are looking to do. If goals are too vague you won’t have a place to start, let alone know how to get there. By making goals that are easily defined you can then take the proper steps to understand how and where to go.

2.)    Make goals that are realistic and accomplishable.

Too often individuals make goals that are too idealistic and, quite frankly, hard to attain. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a goal of one day living in a 1.8 million dollar home with a fleet of high-end Mercedes in your driveway (if that is what is important to you). However, how about starting off small? How about we start off with goals that may include getting a job in a field you enjoy, gaining the proper education or skill set to gain proper experience, or simply, setting a priority list (which is the perfect segue into the next point).

3.)    Set priorities (Make To-Do lists!)

Although you may have a nice set of goals that you would like to accomplish, there may be too many to choose from. Why not set priorities to help you organize what exactly you would like to achieve? Try not to list, as your first priority, achieving your vision of an ideal family. Why not set a goal of having a family get-together at least once a week? Ask your family members to not schedule anything in their planners on one specific evening per week and have the family gather. Then, work from there. Make a tangible set of goals for your family to accomplish. Now that you have the family getting together once a week, try to focus on another aspect of your family functioning, such as the conversation in the home. Then maybe set a goal of having a weekly movie night. As you progress through the list of goals, it will help facilitate a new dynamic in the home, and may make your top priority an easier and more fluid transition.

4.)    Set timelines/deadlines

It is one thing to have qualitative goals to work towards (that is, observational goals that cannot be touched or gauged numerically), but being able to quantify portions of these goals (having goals that you can set a numerical value to) helps to set the pace and give you something to work for. Deadlines and timelines provide consistency and give the goal maker a sense of organization, predictability and consistency. If your attitudes towards goals are more “laissez faire” than “get me there,” it becomes harder to stay motivated and involved. Setting timelines and deadlines also helps you stay focused. For example, if you know that a school paper is due on a particular date, you are more likely to get that paper accomplished by or before that date. On the other hand, if a teacher states that you can pass in a paper at any point during the semester, how many people do you think will be writing their paper the night before the semester ends?   Setting timelines and deadlines to accomplish goals assists in helping the goal maker more properly organize and prioritize their ambitions.

5.)    Do not set goals that overlap or negate one another.

In other words, you should not set goals that may have a negative impact on one or more of your other goals. If your goal is to buy a house for $400,000, but you only make $50,000 a year, than the goal that you set does not align with the practicality of your life. It may be reasonable to set a goal of obtaining a $400,000 home, but if you are basing this goal solely off of an incomparable income, than your goal is missing a few steps. You need to realign your goals and set smaller steps in between.

6.)    Your goals should have a positive attitude.

Try and stay “strength based.” Focus on the positive side of the goals. Do not set goals with a negative connotation. Negative thinking leads to negative experience. If you feel dark emotionally, the day may feel a bit more cloudy than usual. However, the opposite works as well.  If you attack your goals sheet with a positive outlook, you will feel better and more motivated to accomplish these goals as you progress.

Goals are an important aspect in one’s life. Goals are what help us organize and achieve some equilibrium in our lives. Although these are not listed above, here are some other very important facets of getting goals accomplished. First, WRITE THEM DOWN. Write down goals so you can not only remember them, but you can also organize them into a more tangible list. USE SUPPORTS, if necessary. Although there are many goals that you may be privately working on, don’t be afraid to ask others for help or support in accomplishing some of them. You have friends and family in your life for a reason. Don’t forget they are there! REWARD YOURSELF. You’ve accomplished some goals, you deserve something special. Positive reinforcement is a great way of continuing positive behavior. However, don’t reward yourself with something that will, again, negate one of your goals. Just because you’ve obtained your goal of losing 10 pounds through proper eating and exercise does not mean you should reward yourself by binge eating because “you deserve it.” Find other ways to constructively reward yourself.

Use these techniques and you will find that setting and attaining your goals is easier than you thought.

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