Do you ever feel like you are sleepwalking through life? Like you have no real idea of what you want, what direction to take or how to get started? 2022 has arrived and the question is: Do you do another year without having set goals or knowing what you want to achieve? Or do you make 2022 the year where you live with purpose? And what better time to start putting plans in action than now!
New year? New challenges? New beginnings? What does this mean?
What are Goals?
You might not have thought about what it is that you want to achieve this year. Or maybe you know exactly what you want to achieve, but are just not sure how to get there. And this is exactly where goal setting comes into play. ‘Goals’, as defined by Latham & Locke (2002, p.705), are “the object or aim of an action, for example, to attain a specific standard of proficiency, usually within a specified time limit.” Goal setting considers the level of competence we wish to achieve and allows us to assess our current performance. It is a great motivator, allows us to plan for the future, turn our plans into reality and plays an important role in achieving personal developments.
According to Locke (2019) “Every person’s life depends on the process of choosing goals to pursue; if you remain passive you are not going to thrive as a human being.”
Goal Setting for 2022
A fundamental part of goal setting involves planning for the future. MacLeod, Coates & Hetherton (2008) found that setting goals and skill-oriented planning significantly improved subjective well-being in those who took part in a goal-setting intervention program. Thinking positively is crucial when thinking about the future. It helps boost our ability to create goals, gives us new perspective, helps us think more creatively and consider the actions required to achieve the goals.
It is important to understand what each goal means to you. As well as the techniques and the processes it will take to achieve these goals and make this a successful journey. When setting goals, you do need to dream big. But you also need to be realistic at the end of the day. Starting off with realistic smaller goals which are more attainable sets you up for achievement and gives you a feeling of satisfaction. That, in turn, makes you feel capable and excited about doing and achieving more. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, it allows you to measure your achievements and will help you see progress instead of a feeling of being on a long pointless journey. This will lift your self-confidence, allowing you to recognise your own ability and competence.
As mentioned above you need to dream big. But in order to reach your big goal, you need to start small. Overall goal setting can be broken down into 3 steps:
- Step 1: You create your “big picture”, whether it be a goal you want to achieve in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or a lifetime goal. It could be 1 major goal or multiple major goals, it is your goals!
- Step 2: Break these big goals down into smaller goals, it is the process and timelines set-out that you will need to follow to achieve your end goal.
- Step 3: Once you understand your goal/s, the processes and the commitments it will take to achieve this goal, you need to get started!
Goal Setting Tools
With all that said, how do we go about setting these goals to make sure we are successful? Most of us have heard of the SMART principle, which considers parameters such as being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound in the order to ascertain their importance. But is there more to it?
Here are some other factors to consider when setting your goals:
It is important to look at this process as a positive experience. Rather than stating your goals as things not to do, state them as how to achieve them. For instance, instead of saying that you should not be eating sugars or carbs, rather say you will increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
It’s not only important to set specific goals, but also to have specific dates these goals need to be achieved. Set an amount of time to achieve each goal. And furthermore, the amount that needs to be achieved in this time. This allows you to know what you want to achieve and by when you want to achieve it.
Prioritise your Goals
By prioritising your goals, it allows you to know where to start. Removing the feeling of being overwhelmed, which often leads to a person avoiding the process in its entirety.
Put Pen to Paper
It is important to write down your goals. By doing so, you make it more permanent and makes them come alive. For some, it also helps to share their plans with a spouse or friend, as this increases the accountability factor.
Keep “small” goals small
As mentioned earlier, you want to break down your big dream into smaller goals, to make it easier to achieve. But even these small goals need to be realistic and achievable. If a goal is too large, it can seem that you aren’t making any progress, which can lead to a sense of failure, creating a negative effect on the journey. Smaller steps/goals also provide you with the opportunity for reward – something we all thrive on.
Set Goals that you have Control over
To set a goal that can easily be influenced by outside factors can be hard and often unattainable. Setting goals that rely on other people, business outcomes, etc. might not be the best option, as these external factors can change over time and therefore negatively affect your progress in achieving your goal. Set goals based on your personal performance where you are the only person responsible for the outcome. With that said, you should also be mindful of the fact that circumstances can change and not let this derail you.
Fit your Goal into your Schedule
When working out your plan to achieve your goal, it is important to work around your already established schedule. We all have busy lives and to try and make your goal the revolving point is just not possible.
Why is it so hard to achieve goals?
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have those resolutions or goals that have fallen by the wayside. And that is acceptable. But why do we so often fail to achieve our goals?
Our lost or forgotten goals and dreams can often be attributed to having our focus directed on the wrong outcomes, negative emotions or external factors influencing us. By not setting out proper processes to achieve our goals, we are often taking on more than we can handle. Life today is extremely stressful and places huge demands on our time. When we are exhausted, achieving our goals becomes more difficult. Hence it is important to strike a balance between reaching for new achievements and enjoying those we have already gained.
When it comes to planning, it is better to focus on the processes and journey to achieve the goal than the goal itself. Pablo Picasso once said, “our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
It is important to be in the right state of mind and to be positive from the start, whether you are embarking on a short-term or long-term goal. Don’t let your mind be your worst enemy during this process. Expect to have good and bad days, be flexible to change and re-evaluate your processes from time to time or when necessary. By laying a good foundation in the mind from the start, you have no reason not to achieve your goals and dreams. And when you do reach those goals – make sure to reward yourself for all the hard work and effort you had to put in to make it a reality.
At Fish and Field Biokineticists we are trained to assist you with setting health and physical rehabilitation goals. We can help you develop a routine, and keep you accountable and inspired to follow through on your plans for a better, healthier tomorrow.
Dr Ledivia Strauss and Dr Rolene Strauss. (2021). Revita Health Team. Retrieved from Revita Health: https://www.revitahealth.co.za/team
Houston, E. (2020, December 28). What is Goal Setting and How to Do it Well. Retrieved from Positive Psychology: https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting/
Leaf, D. C. (2019, January 22). Why We Don’t Achieve Our Goals. Retrieved from Dr Leaf: https://drleaf.com/blogs/news/why-we-don-t-achieve-our-goals
Personal Goal Setting. (2019). Retrieved from Mind tools: https://www.mindtools.com/page6.html