We want the things we want.
Ideally, with minimal effort. Right?
The key to getting maximum impact for the energy we invest in getting what we want is to get really good at goal-setting.
Goals (and wishes)
Some of the things we want are goals. The rest are wishes.
What’s the difference?
Goals are achievable. Wishes? There is usually little we can do to make them come true.
The things we wish for depend on luck. We can buy a lottery ticket, but we have no control over who wins. So, winning the lottery is a wish, not a goal.
There’s nothing wrong with wishing. It's just helpful to understand the difference between wishes and goals. And to know how to convert our wishes into goals whenever possible.
Goals are oriented to the future and can focus on three things:
- Something we have and want to maintain;
- Something we used to have and want to regain; or
- Something that we have never had but want in our life at a future date.
In all of these cases, the secret of goal-setting is simple: make sure your goal is achievable. This post will tell you how.
Good Goal Strategy #1: Get It All Out
It’s not always obvious if something you want is achievable. Is it a goal or a wish? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
We created a Wishes & Goals Worksheet to help you get all your wishes and goals out on paper. Print as many as pages you need and write absolutely everything down. Do a thorough brain-dump!
One you've done that, go through your worksheets and ask yourself how much control you have over each thing: If I put the effort in, can I achieve this?
Some of the things on your list will be wishes. That’s fine. Stash those on your wish list.
Everything else is a potential goal.
Good Goal Strategy #2: Add Scaffolding
Some things you already know that can do. You just need to decide to do them. Those are perfect goals.
Other items on your list may become achievable at a future date, if your capacities or resources change. Keep them on the back-burner for now.
Still other things might be just out of reach, but could be attainable if you put the right supports--or scaffolding--in place. In other words, sometimes, a wish can be transformed into a goal with a few modifications.
Spend a little time identifying the scaffolding you need to make your goals achievable.
Sometimes these involve other people, but they don't need to. Reminders are one example of a powerful scaffolding strategy that can take moments to implement.
Sometimes the supports you need to achieve your goal are readily available, and it only takes a few minutes of thinking to identify them and a few more minutes to set them up. Minimum effort: maximum impact.
Good Goal Strategy #3: Be SMART
Do a quick assessment to determine the SMARTness of each of your goals.
This SMART goal worksheet will help you to:
- Separate goals from wishes; and
- Increase the ‘reachability’ of your goals.
Remember, a SMART goal is five things: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic; and time-bound.
Good Goal Strategy #4: Reframe
Reframing is one more quick-but- effective strategy for setting goals that work.
Almost any challenge can be framed in more than one way. For example, you can frame your goal as an obstacle or an opportunity.
When you write a goal down, think about the language you use. A positive spin can change the way you think, as well as how you feel and behave when you are working to achieve your goal.
I recently used the strategy of reframing in a challenging situation. Not only did reframing change my perspective (and help me to reduce my anxiety so I could think clearly), but it also enabled me to radically redesign how I tackled the situation. Read about my experience here.
Bonus Strategy #5: Troubleshooting
If you can’t achieve a goal, don’t take it personally.
You aren’t the problem.
The problem lies with the goal.
If a goal isn’t achievable, it might need some adjusting. Or reframing. It might need to be scrapped and a new goal put in its place.
'Learning to set achievable goals’ could be your next goal.
It can take time, and a few false starts, to figure out which goal-setting strategies work best for you.
Our self-experimentation method is all about setting goals for healing.
Learn more about self-experimentation through our free newsletter and our new program.
Autoimmune Healing Intensive
The Autoimmune Healing Intensive puts the power of healing back in your hands.
This self-directed online program is designed to guide you through a practical approach to wellness using low-risk 'experiments'. Delivered on an exclusive website with detailed, downloadable worksheets and guides.
Enrollment open in January 2018. Find more information here.