Archive for Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Learning the art of goal-setting

January 19, 2000

This is the time of year when we ask ourselves, "How are we doing with our New Year's resolutions."

Those New Year's goals that everyone kids us about can be useful when taken seriously. Of course, the first step is to actually establish a few. The second step is to take them seriously and stick with them! This is easier said than done.

I'm always amazed at how many of my friends and family members say they've tried setting goals, but proceeded to forget about them. Another famous one that I hear often is "my New Year's goal is not to set any (goals)."

Benefits of making and keeping goals include: tackling a problem, either large or small; getting ahead, whatever it may be; self-satisfaction; realizing achievement; increasing self-esteem; increasing feelings of pride; and feeling like something's been accomplished.

The opposite of the benefits include letting a "problem" continue; remaining the same or becoming worse; little self-satisfaction; continued low self-esteem; procrastination; laziness; and apathy.

For some, goal-setting is a real puzzlement. A goal can be as small as cutting down on one cup of coffee or one cigarette per day or as monumental as increasing your portfolio by several thousands of dollars. For some people, setting seemingly minute goals can actually be giant steps for those people on a road toward healthier and happier living.

Personally, I always divide my goals into six areas. These include: personal, family, work, home, financial and spiritual. I usually set at least three goals under each area. Some are one-time goals such as "completing a project by a certain date."

Others are on-going such as "Continue to be the best mother I possibly can to my children." I usually type a new "goal list" every year and then store it in a sacred place where I know I'll always find it.

I check my list about once every two months to make sure that I'm staying on track. When I reach a goal, I make note of it in the blank space beside it and put a big check mark on it. At the end of the year, I look at what I've accomplished and decide whether I did "good or bad." From there, I create my next list and decide if I want to carry forward any of the unmet goals. Of course, the goals I met I don't have to worry about anymore. There is always certainly a feeling of self-pride and personal accomplishment.

Anyone can design yearly goals in as simple or as sophisticated way as they want. They can check it as often as once a day or as little as once a year. Setting one goal and sticking to it may be the least overwhelming and the easiest to accomplish. Perhaps learning how to set and achieve multiple goals through more formal programs such as Franklin-Covey Inc. would prove to be more intellectually satisfying since a person learns how to achieve personal goals through daily living decisions.

Whatever your decision, always remember not to get discouraged. If you fall off for a while, it'll never be too late to get back on. If you're proud of yourself because you actually made a goal, then maybe next year you'll be ready to set another and stick to it.

Always remember to keep your personal sense of satisfaction as the primary goal when "goal-setting." If you accomplish it, then you're going to feel really good about yourself.

Teresa Reichart-Vernon lives in Tonganoxie and is a licensed specialist clinical social worker.

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