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Beyond Resolutions: Setting Goals You Can Stick To (Part II of IV)

In the first part of this series on making changes that last, we looked at how mindful observation of the present, combined with consistent and manageable actions can be powerful tools for sustaining real growth. Now it's time to think about how to set specific goals that actually stick.

In the first part of this series on making changes that last, we looked at how mindful observation of the present, combined with consistent and manageable actions can be powerful tools for sustaining real growth. Now it's time to think about how to set specific goals that actually stick.


Resolutions often get a bad rap because they too often rely on a state of powerful but fleeting feelings. This isn't a bad thing, really -- just because your attitude changes on a topic doesn't necessarily mean something's wrong with you. In fact, accepting that our attitudes and emotions come and go (and therefore aren't the most reliable arbiters of truth or winning strategy) can be an important thing to keep in mind! So how then do we add sustainable inspiration fuel to our change-making process?


First things first, bid adieu to those lofty, vague goals that sound impressive but lack a clear roadmap (you know, things like "eat better," "get more sleep," "be more confident," "stop being anxious," etc.). Instead, focus on crafting specific and measurable objectives. Break down your big aspirations into smaller, concrete, doable tasks. Break your project into manageable steps, and suddenly it's not so overwhelming. Using one of the examples above: it's a lot easier to know whether you're succeeding in "doing one thing that scares me every day this week" vs. "stop being anxious."


Next up, let's think about timelines. Ever set a goal with no end in sight? It's like wandering in a maze without an exit. Give yourself a realistic timeline for each of your concrete objectives. Not too tight that it induces stress, but not too loose that it loses its sense of urgency. A sweet spot that keeps you on your toes without feeling overwhelmed, and has a sense of excitement to it.


A third thing that can help with identifying and maintaining realistic objectives is the practice of accountability. Sharing your goals with a friend, a family member, or even a mentor. (Notice we're not saying "share your goals with EVERYONE" (i.e., Instagram, or at that dinner party coming up, or whatever. There's actually some data that shows being too eager to talk about your goals before taking action on them can prevent you from ever getting started!)) If you invite someone into this process, they should be someone who's invested in your goal with you because they understand the goal's meaning to you. Having someone like this cheering you on and checking in from time to time can add a layer of motivation and support.


Lastly, embrace the power of adaptability. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes our plans need a little tweaking. Instead of seeing a detour as a failure, view it as a chance to recalibrate. Flexibility is your ally on the road to success. For example, if you identify one objective that turns out to be unmanageable or incompatible with realistic expectations, revamp! Use your new knowledge to get more strategic.


In summary, you can set more manageable and effective goals by being specific, focusing on realistic timelines, inviting effective accountability, and accepting that sometimes your approach may need to adapt. In the next part of this series, "Beyond Resolutions: Building Bridges to Sustainable Habits," we'll delve deeper into the strategies that promote transformative routines. Stay tuned!


 



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