Get in the Driver’s Seat
I have never liked goal setting. I think it’s because I hate not measuring up. It feels more comfortable to not make goals than to be disappointed in myself for not following through on them. It is a dangerous cycle because I end up achieving nothing. So why when I was in school did I do so well? It must be because I wanted to please my teachers and they set the goals and due dates. I got a lot of positive feedback that reinforced my desire to excel. However, when it comes to setting goals for my adult life or for my own personal growth, I am terrified. How will I know when I’m done? How will I measure my progress? How will I even know what to make a goal about? When I think about big goals, questions like these swirl around in my mind. Maybe you’re like me and goals are a little scary.
So, what is a good thing to do if goals feel scary? Make smaller goals that don’t feel scary and do those. Accomplishing small goals consistently will add up to accomplishing big goals, not to mention it will boost your self-confidence. I might feel scared if I state my goal as “write an entire blog post.” But if my goal is to write an outline, or write one paragraph, it feels doable. Another step is to think about and/or research the topic. The more bite-size your goals are, the less overwhelmed you’ll feel.
The most ideal situation in which to accomplish goals is if you are excited about them or have a great reason why you want to do them. The more motivated you are, the easier it is to follow through. A few years ago, I chose to completely change what I ate because of severe digestive issues which were very painful and resulted in hospitalization. Preventing future pain and suffering motivated me to change, and I saw immediate improvement. There are other goals, however, where progress and results are harder to identify and track.
One way to set goals is to make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. This method is known by an acronym, SMART. Going back to the example of the blog post, a SMART goal could be, “I will write at least one paragraph each day for the next five days.” A paragraph a day is specific and measurable. I know a week is a reasonable time frame to complete a blog and meet my deadline. SMART goals are about the “how” of what you are doing, and not just a general “what.” Goals allow us to be intentional agents as opposed to leaves blowing in the wind. Setting small goals gives you a feeling of control over your life. So, get in the driver’s seat and turn the key. It will be scary but worth it. Small and simple things, done consistently, can bring about great things. I’m still scared about big things, but I can handle small things. You can too.