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Setting Goals and Keeping it Real

By: Centerstone

At a year’s end or beginning, many of us sit down and reflect on the past year, what’s to come, and how we can make positive changes for the next 12 months. Whether you want to quit smoking, read more, or learn a new skill, setting goals can be helpful stepping stones to achieving your desired life. Goals, however, can be hard to maintain for long periods. A 2022 Time Magazine study found that only 8% of people stick to their goals and resolutions for an entire year.  One challenge in fully executing our goals may be because they aren’t always realistic for us.

Why setting realistic goals is important, and how to know what’s realistic for you.

Realistic goals are more likely to keep you on track than larger, loftier goals. With a realistic goal, your chances for success and completion are higher which encourages continued, more sustainable improvement and progress.

Figuring out what is realistic for you may require some trial and error. What we think is realistic may not be, so having some flexibility is helpful. “Give yourself space to experiment and learn where you currently sit concerning your goal,” says Jenna Farmer-Brackett, Manager of Clinical Training at Centerstone.

Common pitfalls of goal setting and how to navigate them.

  1. Not having a clear ‘why’ for wanting to achieve it. Sometimes, wanting to achieve something for the benefit or approval of someone else can make the goal seem like a chore, rather than something that motivates you.
  2. Not taking time to celebrate victories. “Whether you track your progress in a journal, or have an accountability partner, keeping track of your progress toward your goal can help see it through,” adds Farmer-Brackett. “The key here is to celebrate all the victories and progress along the way!”
  3. You are taking on too much. When you stick to fewer, more meaningful goals, it’s easier to track progress and stay with it throughout the year, or your designated timeline.
  4. You’re taking an all-or-nothing approach. If you don’t hit your first benchmark right away, re-focus and reassess your goal. It’s important to remember that goals can change as we do.
  5. Not taking time to prepare. It can be harder to achieve goals without a specific plan in place to help you get there.

How to break up larger goals into smaller, more attainable ones.

To hit that milestone, it can be helpful to break it into smaller, more attainable goals to see progress sooner which ultimately will help with motivation. Keep the following steps in mind when looking at the big picture:

  1. Define your goal, and make it as specific as possible.
  2. Identify key milestones and identify the smaller, more attainable goals. Consider any major steps that need to be taken to reach your end goal, and create sub-goals that will help you achieve them.
  3. List tasks for each of the smaller, more attainable goals. Figure out what you need to do each day or week to keep you on track for the big picture.
  4. Prioritize and plan. Prioritize tasks based on the impact of achieving the overall goal.

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