Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Six Ways to Improve Your Goal Setting...Today!

Goals are standards that most of us use to measure where we are in relation to where we want to end up. Many people believe that behavior is actually guided by the presence, or absence, of goals. For example, poorly defined and ambiguous goals often lead to weak intentions to meet those goals. That leads to amotivation, procrastination or inconsistent behaviors toward goal attainment. But, fortunately the opposite is also true. There are a number of steps you can take to develop well defined and truly achievable goals.

    1. Specific Goals

  • The more specific the goal, the better!. A very vague goal may not be actionable (e.g.to be more successful in my relationship). While this is a noble goal, it is not specific. Instead, you may adopt the goal of "speaking empathically to my partner everyday or noting my non-verbal (body language) communication a few times a day", which is more concrete and easier to monitor. It is more likely for you to postpone vague or open-ended tasks with distant deadlines than focused and short-term projects. Vague, broad and distant goals may also be overwhelming and may, inadvertently, actually cause you to shut down emotionally or behaviorally.

  • 2. Protect Your Goal

  • We are all tempted to develop a number of, presumably positive, goals. You may want to improve your eating habits, improve connection with a partner, and achieve more financial independence. All noble goals and, if clearly defined, achievable. BUT, are you accidentally setting yourself up to fail by focusing on all goals at the same time? Pretty likely. Instead, you need to protect your goal. What goal will you work on now, for the next set period of time? You will focus your attention on this goal, keeping the others to the side... for now. To do otherwise just makes it more likely that you will struggle with all of your desired goals or areas of wanted change.

  • 3. Divide and Conquer

  • I don't know how many of you remember the movie, "What About Bob." In this movie actor Bill Murray plays an emotionally challenged patient who is advised by his psychiatrist, Richard Drefus, to "take baby steps, Bob." Bill Murray, naturally, adds much comedic relief to this saying by walking about town mumbling, "baby steps off the bus, baby steps to the car." You may be wondering what this has to do with successful goal setting and achievement. Well, focus your attention off of the ultimate goal to a series of doable tasks. What can I do today, that is nearly 100% likely to be achieved, to work toward my goal of being successful in my relationship? Specific goals allow for better monitoring of progress toward the goal.

  • 4. Disengage From Impractical Goals

  • Please indulge me in an analogy; in one of Kenny Roger's song, "you have to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." That is true both in poker and in life. Sometimes life requires us to move on from goals that may not be healthy for us or may not be achievable. But, realizing that you may be trapped by a goal and then letting it go gives you the emotional, cognitive and physical space to move on to more achievable options.

  • 5. How Bad Do You Want It?

  • People who pursue goals for their own, personally chosen reasons have greater intrinsic motivation for attainment and are not pressured by outside forces. Decisions that feel autonomous lead to less exhaustion and better self-control performance than making choices when one feels forced. For example, people who diet for more personal reasons tend to be more successful at losing weight than people who diet for more external reasons.

  • 6. Beware of False Hope

  • Have you ever heard the saying, "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it?" This adage is very appropriate to goal selection and attainment. A decision to pursue a goal is based on an expectation of how much the goal achievement will make you feel happy. But, this prediction can be inaccurate for a number of reasons, leading to the phenomenon of "miswanting" - wanting something that is not enjoyed, or liked, when actually received. For example, in the context of dieting, it is way too easy to believe that a thinner body will get you what you want. Although losing weight is likely to improve your health, it may not substantially and positively affect your personality or improve your acceptance by peers. When weight loss fails to produce these global and unrealistic effects, self-control may fail. Thus, decisions made on the basis of false predicted happiness are likely to turn out to fail to maximize eventual experienced happiness. So, choose your goals carefully with an accurate understanding of what their attainment will actually bring!

Being mindful takes practice. Don't be discouraged or give up. If you find you are struggling with an issue in your life or would like to work on incorporating mindfulness techniques into your life, we are here to help!

Set up an appointment today!
Call (516) 869-3101 or send a confidential message to schiumo@optonline.net