Goal-Setting for the Real World

We’ve all got goals and may have an idea in mind of how goal-setting might look in our lives. Our goals may be big and life-changing, or they may be as small as wanting to be more consistent in cleaning your baseboards, but no matter the size, we’ve all got them.

I hear so often, especially around the holidays and the new year, “I’m going to *insert goal here* EVERY DAY!” We create goals with the ultimate optimism that we’ll always live up to our highest expectations, only to find a week later that doing something new every single day isn’t quite as realistic as we originally thought. We then often completely abandon the goal as unachievable, and add it to our running list in our head of the ways we’ve fallen short or screwed up. It’s an ugly cycle that usually doesn’t get us much closer to where we really want to be, and often ends with us feeling depressed, deflated, and insecure.

What if, instead of holding ourselves to insanely high standards and seeing anything short of that as a failure, we started goal-setting in realistic ways?

What if we celebrated our small successes as valid, gave ourselves props for any forward motion, and cut ourselves slack for the moments we’re less than perfect? What might that mean for our long term success?

Take a moment.

Think about the last time you set a goal. When you (inevitably) were less than perfect in pursuing that goal, did you extend grace to yourself, or did you start a running mental diatribe against yourself? Following that mental beat-down, was your motivation any higher, or did you actually feel more like giving up altogether?

We think we are motivating ourselves by beating ourselves up when we misstep, when the opposite is actually true.

This year, when looking at your goals or New Year Resolutions, try taking a gentler, more self-supporting approach and see if you actually have more success than expected.

Molly Halbrooks, LAMFT

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