It’s that time of year again… the beginning of a new year and time to make goals and set intentions for the upcoming year. One of our goals here at Clara Healing Institute is to launch our blog (hence this post).
Now, let’s talk goals from a compassionate lens. Setting goals or wanting something to happen are the easy parts. Achieving and maintaining goals are where things can get difficult. Here are a few psychology backed tips on how to actually achieve your goals this year.
1. Define your goals
It’s scientifically proven that you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t have any. It can be easy to say “I want to do more of X in the new year” or make vague, loose goals, but the goals that actually stick are the ones that are clear, concise, and defined. Choosing goals that are consistent with your values is also important. Find out what is important to you and create goals based on those values. For example, if family is one of your values, creating a goal to see family 1x a week could be a realistic goal based on your values.
Using the acronym “S.M.A.R.T.” can be a great way to help define goals. The “S.M.A.R.T.” framework is listed below.
2. Make them manageable
With goal setting, it can be easy to become over ambitious and set goals that aren’t actually manageable or realistic. This is a great way to set yourself up for failure. Yes, going to the gym every day might sound great, but realistically will you be able to achieve that goal? Setting a goal to go to the gym 2-3 times a week may be more manageable. Making manageable goals requires you to be honest and compassionate with yourself. What can you realistically handle? Set small, manageable goals to start and then build from there. Baby steps are still important steps.
3. Figure out a strategy
What’s your game plan? Planning is one of the most important strategies to achieve any goal. Planning is essential to achieving goals because you need to know how you are going to get from point A to point B. It isn’t going to happen magically, and it’s going to take work. Figuring out a strategy to achieve your goals is a foolproof way to hold yourself accountable and turn your dreams into reality. For example, your goal may be to get a 4.0 in school. How are you going to achieve this goal? Your strategy could include attending all classes, studying 3x/week, or reaching out to a tutor.
4. Hold yourself accountable
One of the hardest things to do when setting goals is to hold yourself accountable. Yet, this is a huge key in achieving your goals. Our brains are hardwired to stay in our comfort zones, and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort involves accountability. In order to create real change, we must push past what our brain is telling us in the moment and do what we said we were going to do. A few ways to hold yourself accountable include, knowing your “why”, writing it down, having an accountability buddy, or finding a network to share your journey with.
5. Know when to say no
Knowing how and when to say “no” is not only a crucial part of life and setting boundaries, but is a great way to stay on track and keep you focused on your goals. Outside distractions can set you off your path. For example, if a friend asks you to go out to dinner and one of your goals is to save money, well, you must learn how to exercise some self control and say no. Be more mindful of what you give your energy to, because at the end of the day, you only have so much energy to go around. Are you going to use that energy to complete your goals or are you going to let yourself be distracted and potentially waste energy that could be put to good use. Stay focused and say no! Remember, also, that you are ALLOWED to put yourself FIRST.
Here at Clara Healing Institute, we wanted to create a space to share goals and hold ourselves accountable, together. And so, our goal mural was born. This display is a collective space where our therapists and our clients can create goals together, write them down, and display them. In doing this, we hope to share our goals and hold ourselves accountable.
For those of you who come to CLARA for services and programs, we welcome you to add your goals to this board as well. In the waiting area you will see two round dry erase boards and a table with supplies. We invite you to interact with this space and add your own goals and intentions.
As always, if you are finding yourself very stuck when it comes to your goals and need extra support, we are here for you! Depression, isolation, stress, and the ongoing uncertainty of these times can make these steps very difficult, even if we want our goal or change deeply. You do NOT need to do it alone! Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started with your therapy journey, and I can help connect you to the best therapist or program for you.
Happy New Year!