I believe that most everyone understands the concept and value of setting goals. Everyday I see people setting goals of managing their stress, exercising more regularly, ending their procrastination, finishing school, leaving an unhealthy relationship. Many people never achieve their goals because they get overwhelmed with the enormity of it or frustrated because it isn’t happening fast enough. They give up, only to start again in the future.
Through the course of my life and my work as a counselor I have found the following tips enhance the probability of achieving your goals.
- Make sure your goals align with your values. As you set goals consciously connect the goals with one or more of your values, whether it be health, honesty, peace, helping others. Be sure they are YOUR values and not those of your parents, partner, friends. You want your goal to be meaningful to YOU and not to make someone else happy. Two of my top values are health and time in nature so paddle boarding on the Neuse River with lots of wildlife was a good fit for my values.
- Set short term goals and celebrate your success along the way. I see many people who complete a goal and barely recognize it before moving on to the next thing. The more we celebrate and focus on our success, however small, the better our brain will hold onto this memory. We need to consciously store memories of success so that over time they will outnumber the memories of failure which are automatically stored. If we reflect on our past and see ourselves as successful, we are much more likely to stick with a goal until completion. Yesterday after my 100th hour of paddling, I celebrated with a lunch out, a cold beer and lots of Facebook cheering from the 100/100 Facebook group.
- Surround yourself with supportive people (and that includes the voices in your head). We never achieve anything of significance alone. We need others to inspire and motive us when we get discouraged. Make sure you tell the positive people in your life about your goal and be specific with how they can help. Maybe they have already achieved what you are working on and can provide guidance; maybe they will let you know they believe in you on a regular basis; maybe they will be a part of your celebrations along the way. Don’t be shy in asking for help while also offering your support to others. Finally make sure your thoughts are supportive. Quiet the voices of doubt and criticism in your head. Reflect on your past successes and the steps you are taking towards your goals. Put little emphasis on your failures or mistakes only keeping the lessons you have learned from them.
- Enjoy the journey towards your goal. Many people give up on their goal because after months of effort they aren’t there yet. If you are enjoying the journey towards your goal you are much more likely to stay the course. In addition to following tips 1-3, practicing mindfulness will also help you enjoy the journey. Stay fully present with what is happening right now. Are you meeting new people, learning a new skill, having more energy, speaking more truthfully as you work towards your goal? Try not to think about how much farther until you reach your goal and focus on what needs to be completed today. It took me six years to write my novel Hungry Mother Creek and I never would have finished if I hadn’t enjoyed the process - making friends with other writers, improving my writing skills through workshops, expressing myself creatively. I think most of our emphasis should be on the journey as the actual achievement of a goal lasts a very short while and sometimes even feels anti-climatic, while it's the journey that actually changes us as people.
Cotton Sykes was born mean. He came into the world breech, ass backward. Bout killed his Momma because that was back before ultrasounds. Well maybe some people were getting them but not the wife of a fisherman from Pamlico County, North Carolina. Anyhow, Cotton was colicky and cried and cried as a baby. His Momma never did have any peace. Once he was old enough to walk, all hell broke lose in their house. He would break things, throw his food on the floor and pinch his baby brother Tony, lying quiet as you please in his crib. Can you believe that? Anyone who’d hurt an innocent baby just for meanness, well there’s no hope for him. I won’t even tell you what he did to that old tabby cat that hung around his Daddy’s dock, it being close to super and all. Might ruin your appetite.
Check out these wonderful Indie authors who are also sharing parts of their work this month.