Setting Goals When Making Lifestyle Changes By Brita Mutti, ND, FABNO

Goal setting is a process for thinking about your ideal future. It provides motivation to turn your vision into reality. The benefits of goal setting are many. It will help you organize your time and resources. It fosters a sense of achievement when goals are accomplished. It also helps identify distractions that get in the way of achieving your goals.

The simple act of just setting a goal sets the groundwork for things to happen. It sets positive energy in motion, and allows what comes into your life to help you along the way. When you are getting started, begin with creating your big picture. What are the large-scale, lifetime goals you want to achieve? Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision-making. Start by looking at your life and brainstorm what you want to achieve. Once this is clear in your mind, break these goals down into smaller goals that you must reach in order to achieve your lifetime goals. Think about what you can do in the next five years, then the next year, next month, next week, and today. Then, start moving towards them.

When thinking about your lifetime goals, consider what you want to achieve, being sure to cover all important areas in your life. List them in order of importance and include details (place, time, amounts), which will help you better measure your achievements along the way.  Write these goals down! We all have moments of clarity when we are feeling particularly brilliant. If we write down our goals we remember them better then, they can help motivate us when we are not feeling strong. Some areas of your life you may want to set goals for may include:

  • Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
  • Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
  • Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
  • Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
  • Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
  • Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
  • Public Service – Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?
  • Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
  • Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?

Once you have decided the categories you want to cover, spend time brainstorming ways to get there. If this feels overwhelming, consider narrowing your goals so that you can focus on the ones most important to you. Setting smaller, more attainable goals is also a good strategy for success. Make a list of progressively smaller goals that will help you to achieve your lifetime goals. You can:

  • Create daily to-do lists.
  • Regularly reevaluate how realistic your big picture goals are.
  • Once you have broken your goals into smaller steps you may find the need to revaluate these goals as well. How realistic are they? If you find they are too difficult to achieve, how can you set smaller, more realistic goals that are along the same path and will still meet your desires?
  • Set your goals so they are in harmony with each other and the way you want to live you life.
  • And of course, celebrate your achievements along the way! When you feel stuck, look back at the things you have already accomplished. Sometimes the path can be more satisfying than the destination.

Tips for Success

Once you have decided your goals, continue evaluating and revaluating them. Make sure your goals are in congruence with the way you want to live your like. If one of you goals is to become CEO of your company and another one is to spend more time with your family, perhaps those goals need to be revaluated and prioritized. Make sure one goal doesn’t compromise another one.

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. SMART usually stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).

M – Measurable (or Meaningful).

A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).

R – Relevant (or Rewarding).

T – Time-bound (or Trackable)

For example, instead of having “To sail around the world” as a goal, it’s more powerful to say “To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015.” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!

Avoiding pit falls

Its often easy to get motivated about setting goals and thinking about where and what you want in life. It is easy to get discouraged when we don’t accomplish our goals. If it is a large goal, you might wake up next week being no closer to your goal and feeling discouraged. Then you may start to feel negative about your goal and yourself. The more negative energy you stir around your goal and yourself, the more roadblocks you are setting up, preventing you from getting where you want to go. Here are a few ways to avoid this.

  • State goals as positive statements (ex. – exercise for 3-5 days a week, NOT don’t be sedentary)
  • Give goals time to take form. Let the universe help guide how you achieve your goal. Once the goal is in the forefront of your mind, you will find that things will come up in your life to help you along the way. Let your environment and circumstances guide you and help define your goals.
  • Make sure you are authentically inspired by your goals. If you aren’t authentically inspired by your goals you will not be inspired to make them happen – make sure they are goals you have made for yourself and not ones other people are pushing you to achieve
  • Allow yourself to fail. You are allowed to make mistakes. Every one does. It is a part of life. Be kind to yourself. Know that failure is part of trying AND LEARNING. The only people who don’t fail are those that don’t try.

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