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How to: Create a Goal You Can Achieve

Amanda Cofer, MPH

It’s that time of year again. The time when we all start thinking about what we want to achieve in the New Year and start plotting out our resolutions. But how many times have you tried to set a goal and then found yourself a bit off course or feeling discouraged? This happens to all of us! Literally, everyone has been here at least a time or two! In fact, one statistic says that 80% of us will lose sight of our New Year’s resolution by February (yikes!!!). But don’t let that statistic scare you! Here are some pointers to help you keep the faith and set goals you can achieve using a little bit of creativity!

Give your goal meaning

At the end of the day your goals are your’s and your’s alone (you’re not alone in working towards them of course but you catch my drift). You will be the one working towards them each day with the support of those around you so having a goal that is meaningful to YOU can help you keep your motivation. You can create a goal as unique as you are! Whether that’s signing up for your first 5k, doing some new yoga poses, losing weight, or even reading more. Thinking about this meaning can also help you determine how important this goal is to you because we know the more important something is to you, the more likely it is that you’ll stick with it.

Set a process goal

Many of us have an idea of what we want to accomplish but we may not have a clear plan on how to get there. SMART goals can be long-term or short-term and it can be incredibly helpful to have both! These short-term goals could also be thought of as “process goals”. These goals focus on the small steps involved in learning a new behavior, creating a new habit, or breaking an old one. Kind of the “Rome wasn’t built in a day” mentality to help you focus on the aspects that you can control and help you take action towards your goal no matter what the outcome may be. Goals that use this gradual approach can also help build self-efficacy towards healthy habits even if you don’t see the results immediately.

Utilize eustress

Did you know there are different types of stress? We aren’t talking about the difference between work stress and hosting your in-laws stress, but actually different forms of stress. Eustress is a positive form of stress brought on by the feeling of excitement or nervousness, different from negative feelings of distress. Stress like this, in the short term, can actually lead to enhanced performance and success! This idea may help you create positive challenges for yourself that you believe in. By thinking through challenges that excite you in this way, you may have a more positive mindset in taking action toward the goal you’ve set out to achieve.  

Go with the flow

While it’s important for goals to be specific and well thought out, it’s also important to remember that sometimes life can throw you a curveball and things change. Goals can certainly be modified as you go! This can help you avoid the all-or-nothing thinking that many of us experience when something unexpected sends our intentions a bit left of center. As you learn to work with the unexpected and go with the flow, your confidence in working towards your goal grows. The fear of failing diminishes and you see that your commitment to your goal is what matters in the end. If there is a foreseeable curveball in your future, you may even visualize a Plan B beforehand to help you hit that sucker out of the park!