Goals and Flexibility
I’ve been thinking a lot about New Year’s Resolutions and setting goals. I know it’s way past New Year’s Resolution time, but that’s exactly why I wanted to write about them.
If you’re like most people, we have all the best intentions in the world when setting our goals for the New Year. We may set our goals on quitting smoking, being a better parent, reading more books – things that could really add value to our lives. Then, something happens. Real life sets in, old habits are not as easy to break as we had hoped, and we lose our way. We start down the slippery slope of losing our motivation and, for some of us, we just stop trying. We quit. We give up.
For anyone out there who has started 2013 off with goals to achieve something new or change a habit that is no longer positive and fell off the track, I want you to consider something new. I want you to consider being kind, compassionate, and flexible with yourself regarding not only the goals but with falling off the track in the first place
Setting goals – smart goals – the kind that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-sensitive can be extremely rewarding. Achieving goals can feel fantastic! But what happens if we slip away from those goals and find ourselves not following through?
I know that might sound overly simplistic, but give it a try. All is not lost just because it’s not January 1st of whatever year. Consider starting over and, this time, build in some flexibility. It’s not that the goal isn’t important or not worth the effort. The goal is important and you are worth the effort. But sometimes we have the best of plans, the best of ideas, and something gets in the way. Consider the stuff that gets in the way as new opportunities to find new ways to stay committed to the long-term goal. Make peace with the obstacle and see if there isn’t some way around it, through it, or over it. Consider looking at the goal and seeing if something needs to be reevaluated to incorporate the obstacle – perhaps a different time line, a more realistic outcome, or a different action is required.
Today, at my office, I came in ready to take on the world. I had a full schedule and was ready to tackle whatever issues came forward. To my surprise, there was a water main break in the middle of our office, throwing our schedules out the window. In writing this blog, I’ve had to look at my own goals for the day, reprioritize, and realize what could and could not be accomplished today.
This is the invitation to most of us each and every day. We start out with our plan and then something tips things over. Rather than getting upset, throwing all the goals out the window, or sulking in our room, try embracing the opportunity that is available. This flexibility can help us stay true to our goals and resolutions but with less rigidity.
This flexibility can have other positive results as well. We may achieve the goal better than we first anticipated with less stress, anxiety, or tension. We may be less stressed out with family members and at work. We may find a new way to approach achieving our goal can be healthier and happier in the long run.
Let me know what you think!
Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.
Excellent post and it's so true that goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound). There is also a little technique you can use, if you have the courage that will almost guarantee the achievement of big goals and dreams. It is based on the idea of “social pressure”. Think about this; let’s say you have a goal to lose a certain amount of weight or achieve some desired level of fitness. You can set the goal privately and tell yourself, “I am going to achieve this goal by August 1.” On the other hand, you can make the goal public by telling all of your friends and family what you intend to do and even give a date for your desired completion. As soon as you take that goal public, you move into a different state of mind. No longer are you at the mercy of your own self-discipline (which has been tarnished by years of bad habits). Now you have a much more powerful force dictating your day to day actions and decisions.