Goal Setting for Positive Change

December 7, 2003 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

“It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are,
without any self deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events,
by which the path to success may be recognized.”

— I Ching

As we experience the end of 2003 and transition into the New Year, I encourage you to refrain from making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions made at this arbitrary time of year are often based vastly on emotions and rarely include a realistic action plan that has been defined for your success.

Instead, I encourage the practice of setting goals for yourself. Goal setting is an ongoing skillful practice – all year round. Moreover, it is a practice that can help you experience successful change, if engaged in realistically and with awareness.

In setting goals for yourself, a concrete plan can keep you on course and increase your commitment. Start with a bite-sized, realistic goal, something that you will be able to accomplish in the next several weeks. If you have a large goal, break it down into smaller steps that will be less overwhelming and more reachable. Try putting together a plan that includes the following elements:

· Specific
Set a concrete goal that addresses behavior and results, not emotions.

· Measurable
You must be able to tell when you arrive, and to set milestones along the way.

· Agreed upon
Don’t be the Lone Ranger; ask others to help you and support you.

· Rewarding
Make your behavior change as much fun as possible. Decide how you will reward and acknowledge yourself; both for achieving your main goal and for passing the milestones along the way.

(Source: Stress Management, Beaverton, OR: Great Performances, Inc., 1987)

Goal: I will develop a regular stress reduction practice over the next six weeks.
Measurable: I will begin by practicing mindful yoga or meditation 20 minutes, three days a week for the first two weeks, work up to practicing 20 minutes, four days a week for the second two weeks, and practice 20 minutes, five days a week by the end of the six weeks.
Agreed upon: I will share this plan with my sister and check in with her each week about my progress.
Reward: At each milestone, I will by myself some flowers for my office at work.


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