“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll wind up someplace else”.Yogi Berra
This quote by Yogi Berra highlights the need for clear direction and purposeful goal setting in our lives. Goals help to identify what you want to accomplish and how to get there. They empower you to take control of your life and implement change. But how do we set goals we can achieve? How do we stay motivated when the demands of life get in the way? The process of goal setting can be broken down into three stages. By following these guidelines, you can set yourself up for success from the beginning.
Stage One: Select
You may have a very clear idea of what you wish to accomplish, or you may need to spend time flushing it out. Sometimes, there are several issues to be addressed. Spend some time exploring these areas and select the best place to start. What is impacting your life the most? What would be the most realistic for you right now?
Stage Two: Simplify
Once you’ve decided where to start, you can work on simplifying your goal. We often say things like “I just want to be happy” or “I feel stuck”. In this stage, start to explore what this means to you. How are current problems showing up in your life? What does happiness mean to you? What would you like to change? It is quite common in this stage to use tools such as tracking worksheets or journaling to help understand your current situation and break down broad themes into specific goals.
To help with this, try creating a SMART goal:
Specific: My goal is specific, concrete, and action oriented.
Measurable: My goal can easily be quantified.
Attainable: I can achieve this goal given my current resources, capabilities, and circumstance.
Realistic: My goal is realistic for the time, effort, and skill level I have right now.
Timely: My goal can be achieved in the time I have allotted to it.
Stage Three: Adjust
After you have set a goal and tried it out, reflect on how it’s going and determine if any adjustments need to be made. Are you on track to achieve your goal? Is anything getting in the way? Consider the skills and resources needed to be successful and reach out for help if necessary. In this stage, it is often useful to consult with a counsellor, as they have knowledge on how a goal can be adjusted. Discussing goals with a helping professional also leads to greater reflection and a deeper understanding of what is going on and how to change it.
Ready to create a plan for achieving your goals? Reach out to one of our counsellors for a free 15-minute consultation.
Written by Cat Zydyk
Agapie, E., Areán, P.A., Hsieh, G. & Munson, S.A. (2022). A longitudinal goal setting model for addressing complex personal problems in mental health. Proc. ACM Hum—Comp. Interact, 6(270), 1-28. https://doi.Org/10.1145/3555160
Parsons, R.D. & Zhang, N. (2014). Chapter 5: Goal setting: Identifying what is desired. Becoming a skilled counselor (pp.165-184). Sage Publications. https://doi.Org/10.4135/9781506374444