7 Strategies for Setting Goals You Will Actually Accomplish

We are nearing the end of March. How are those New Year’s resolutions? Still working on them? Most people do not stick with New Year’s resolutions for the long term and the same can be true of goals.

Does that mean we shouldn’t make goals?! Not at all. We just need strategies for setting goals you will actually accomplish. Here are seven strategies to help you do just that!

Let’s take a goal of getting in 12,000 steps per day as an example.

Figure out your WHY

Most workplaces have step challenges, whether formal or just between co-workers. It’s easy to sign up for the challenge because someone else is doing it or because you don’t want to miss out. While participating has great benefits, what’s the reason why this challenge appeals to you? Why this goal?

Daily walking has a host of health benefits. It’s a simple and free form of daily movement, can break up the workday and helps build community with your co-workers.

Dig deep here and figure out the WHY behind your goals. I like to ask my clients WHY at least 5 times. That usually gets us to the root of the why behind a specific goal.

Know Yourself

How do you handle expectations? One of my favorite books is Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin where she outlines a framework for how people handle expectations.

Essentially, people are broken into 4 categories. Upholders can meet external and internal expectations with ease. Obligers, like me, do well with external expectations but resist meeting internally. Questioners resist meeting external expectations but do well with internal expectations. Rebels resist both internal and external expectations.

Knowing how you meet expectations is an important indication of how you will meet goals. Realizing that I do well with external accountability was a game changer for me!

There is a free quiz online you can take to find your tendency.

Create goals carefully

You should be creating 2 types of goals. An Outcome Goal: the big, overarching goal you want to achieve. And a Behavioral Goal: the small daily goals that help you meet that big goal.

Outcome goal example: Participate in every day of the step challenge, by taking 12,000 steps.

Behavioral goal examples: I commit to knocking out 2,000 steps before I get to work. I commit to taking 3 – 4 walk breaks throughout the work day with Karen.

Just a reminder to make sure you are creating SMART goals. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Make a plan of action

Once you have your behavioral goals or commitment statements, it’s time to put a plan into action. The behavioral goals will help structure your plan. This is also the time to recruit or implement any external accountability needed. Remember your tendency here!

Perhaps you want to take a couple of your workday walk breaks with a friend and you will add a gold star to your planner at the end of each day if you met your goal (I give myself a goal star for every workout I do each week!).

Also, consider how you might handle your behavioral goals if the day does not go according to plan. Perhaps walking on the treadmill if it’s raining outside or walking inside the office building. Create a contingency plan and jot down a few alternative options.

Set up check-ins

How are you going to check in on your progress and evaluate your action plan? Daily, weekly, monthly? What will these check-ins look like?

You can ask yourself: Am I meeting my daily goals? Why or why not? If it’s a yes, do you want to keep moving forward in the same way? If it’s a no, what’s going on that’s preventing you from meeting your goals? Do you need to tweak your behavioral or outcome goals? Do you need to recruit extra accountability? Do you need to revisit your why?

Tweak if necessary

Remember that no matter how well you set up your goals and systems and plans, there is always the possibility that life will happen. We don’t always have control over what will happen in our day, but we do how the power to choose how we will respond. Sometimes it means powering through and shifting your mindset. Other times it means changing things up. It’s okay to not be perfect in your pursuit of meeting your goals and it’s okay to tweak your method.

Celebrate small victories

If you went from walking an average of 7,000 steps per day and started doing 12,000 steps 4 – 5 days per week, that’s HUGE! Sometimes we think that we need to reach big milestones to celebrate. All the little victories you accomplish will add up to helping you reach your big goal. Get comfortable with 12,000 steps 4 – 5 days a week and then slowly add in another day.

Bonus: Recruit outside help

Sometimes you just need outside help, whether it be a friend or formal coach. Having an outside perspective can be so helpful in pointing out areas of improvement or even uncovering hidden potential.

So, now that you have a few strategies to implement, what goal are you working on?

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Jen Elliott, CES, CPT, PN1

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