Med One to One Fall/Winter 2023 ISSUE 77

Tips for Setting Goals

Tips for Setting Goals

By Troy Tait

With the end of 2023 upon us and 2024 just around the corner, many people are probably starting to think about the new year and the annual selection of resolutions that will be the focus for the year (or at least for the first few weeks).

I don’t know about you, but it seems like each year I somehow manage to have the same resolutions as the previous year – lose weight, save more money, eat better, stop some type of bad habit, etc. I guess that means I’m either not doing a particularly good job of accomplishing my goals, or I really need to get more creative about the things I need to change.

While I haven’t been particularly successful with some of my New Year’s Resolutions, there are several goals which I have had success in reaching. I have a couple of tips that have helped me and thought I would share them. There are probably many things you have heard before but sometimes it is good to have a reminder.

I think the most important tip when setting a goal is to first identify the “why” behind the goal. Throughout my life, I have always heard it is much easier to do something when you have clearly identified and understand the “why.” If there is a real purpose, with real meaning to you, chances are you will be more motivated to achieve your goal.

Once you have identified your “why,” the next step would be to convince yourself you are willing to make a change. Remember the old saying, “If you want different results, you have to do things differently.” I was hopeful this wouldn’t be true, but it is. We can’t do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Recently, I was working on a goal of losing a few pounds. I was consistent at exercising daily and eating what I would call a healthy diet. However, after I really looked at what I was doing, I realized I wasn’t doing anything different. I was doing things that I was comfortable with and still fit into the narrative of working to achieve my goal, but I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. Once I made a real change, I started to see actual results.

The crazy thing about this goal, was the change I had to make wasn’t really that drastic. I was still able to do just about everything I was already doing, but there were a few things that did need to be done differently. For me, change really brought change.

So, identifying your why and committing to change are – in my opinion – the first and most important steps to achieving your goal. In fact, I think you could categorize them as 1A and 1B. Once these two items have been identified it is time to move on to the next step – creating the plan. There is a great quote for this step – “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about creating a plan, other than to say the plan needs to include a reasonable timeframe, include available resources and be measurable to provide accountability. The plan also needs to be flexible, allowing for modifications and adjustments along the way. Sometimes when we are trying to achieve a goal, real life will get in the way. Rather than adjusting the goal, we can simply adjust the plan. Remember, without a plan a goal is just a wish, and we don’t set wishes, we set goals.

Once the goal is identified and the plan created, it is time to start working on the plan. As you are working on the plan, remember there are always going to be challenges that pop up. How you respond will determine your ability to succeed. One rule of thumb I like to follow is this, “Don’t sweat the small things, fix them.” I have found that it is usually the things that start out as something small and then turn out to be the big thing that derailed success. So, the first part of the old statement, “Don’t sweat the small things” is 100% accurate, but don’t just let them linger. Take the time to fix them so they don’t become overwhelming and unmanageable.

Here is a recap of my tips to successfully achieving your goals – remember, these are just my own thoughts, and I am not a trained professional. I have probably failed more times than I have succeeded, but these tips have been helpful whether I achieved my goal or failed while trying.

1A & 1B – Identify your “why” and commit yourself to making real change. Truly identifying and understanding why you want to achieve your goal and then committing to do things differently are the key first steps to success.

2. Make a reasonable plan to achieve your goal. The plan should be flexible with reasonable timeframes. Make sure you have the appropriate resources available for the plan. It also needs to be measurable so you can identify if the plan is working or if adjustments need to be made.

3. Work on the plan. Most people are good at creating a plan but sometimes fail to properly work the plan. That means sticking to the plan even when things get a little challenging. Be determined to work through the process, knowing you can adjust the plan without having to adjust the goal.

4. Don’t sweat the small things, fix them. Too often we let the small things linger until they become the big thing that derails success. Fix them while they are small and manageable.

5. The last step was not mentioned above, and it is to be real and honest with yourself. We are all different and that’s exactly how it needs to be. Recognize, celebrate, and focus on your strengths. Set goals that will help you improve in those areas and make you a better version of yourself.

There you have it. My five tips to goal setting, and if followed, will absolutely guarantee you a chance (you get to decide how great the chance is) to achieve your goal. Here’s to a great 2024 and resolutions that will be meaningful and impactful and bring about the change you are seeking.