When I see clients in their first sessions, I ask them for a goal statement. Typically people will say they want to feel better, get rid of a bad habit, stop procrastinating, get their marriage back, that sort of thing.
That’s all well and good. But I tell them they are more likely to succeed if they refine their goal statements.
So I ask the client to write four “fill in the blank” statements about what they want to accomplish and why they want it.
First, “My therapy goal is …”
Second, “This is important to me because …”
Third, “Achieving this goal will say something good about me, such as …”
Fourth, “When I have some success, I will be able to do things differently, like …”
Another important feature in setting a goal is that it must move you to action. For that reason, the words contained in your goal statement are very important. For most people, emotion is critical in motivation. And so, when you choose words that contain a powerful feeling, you will be more likely to get going. For example, saying that you want to lose weight might be good enough if you have a life-threatening health condition. Otherwise, you should definitely use a more highly charged statement, like, “I want to lose 35 pounds and get in shape, so that I look awesome and make my cousins’ heads spin at the next family reunion. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces!”
In general your goals should be realistic and within your reach, and they should include behavior you can observe and measure.
Listed below are my six guidelines for effective goal-setting.
Your goal statement must be …
1. In your own words – State something you want to do … to know … to learn, and so on. If it’s in your words, you have claimed it as your goal. Don’t make it a goal because someone else says so.
2. In your control – It must be something you – not someone else – can and will do.
3. In the ‘here and now’ – It’s not in a far-off time or place. It’s about what you will do now. It’s like going for a touchdown. The touchdown is a far-away goal, but the first down is the ‘here and now’ goal.
4. Be specific – Example: “I want to pass 10th grade.” is not specific enough.
If you say, “I want to get the following: nothing lower than a C in Math; A or B in everything else this semester, and still have time for fun activities.” Much better!
That’s specific – it gives you a goal you can measure.
5. In terms of behavior – not “I want to be happy” or “feel better about myself” – but “I will do _____________” or “I will think___________” or “I will say___________”. A good goal motivates you toward behavior that helps you grow. Remember: thinking and speaking are behaviors, too!
6. In positive terms – If your goal is to “stop” or “quit” doing something … what will you do instead? A good goal statement names something you will do, not something you won’t do. It’s fine to say, “I want to quit smoking.” But that doesn’t make you do something else instead. So, if you want to quit smoking, say, “I also want to walk one mile 3 times each week to improve my breathing and energy.”
Getting Started on Making a Goal Statement:
1) Write a goal statement to the best of your ability.
2) Check it against the guidelines above. Does it match up with them? If not, keep going until it
matches enough to help you try a new behavior.
3) Explain all the benefits of reaching your goal. Imagine and explain how that benefit could lead to other good things. Example: “When I quit smoking, I will have more energy, I will probably sleep better and won’t wake up with nasty breath, I will be more productive at work, I will be proud of myself, my loved ones will respect me” etc.
Here is a link to a site that will give you four more tips on getting motivated to exercise.
http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/workout-motivation-tips/ — In short, the tips are: 1) Give yourself a real reward 2) Make a commitment in front of people who care about you to exercise with a goal in mind 3) Use positive thinking to visualize yourself having reached your specific, measurable goal 4) Arrange for someone else to “pay” you something for working out.
Anyone can go through a period of feeling stuck or just plain “blah”, and might not know what steps to take. If you’re in that position, please call me for a free consultation at (219) 309-3928. You will be pleasantly surprised at the amazing things you can do to help yourself get up and get going towards a dynamic and exciting life!