How can I reach my goals?

Choose positive support systems to help you achieve success and reach your goals. Find people who will cheer you on and encourage you as you go. Stay away from nay-sayers. Their buzz kill will limit your stride and self-esteem. Leave room for productive days and unproductive ones. Find inspirational quotes and use self-encouraging statements to nudge you along the climb. Also, take the time to look into what it takes to reach your goal so as to hold a realistic expectation as you persevere.
Brooke Randolph
Marriage & Family Therapy
In goal setting and achievement I encourage my clients to consider the smallest change they can make immediately, as well as the very first, smallest sign of progress they will notice. We are most likely to achieve and maintain large goals in small steps, undertaking one at a time, rather than trying to create an entirely new life or way of being overnight.

In general people do not pay enough attention to how successful and powerful they actually are already. Preparing a healthy lunch rather than stopping at Taco Bell just one day is a major change for that day. A smaller change would be to go to the same eating establishment, but order lighter fare instead of the usual. Too often people do not even consider the accomplishment of altering one's daily pattern and do not count a change until it is a habit. When you are not giving yourself credit for our achievements along the path to a larger goal, you will feel like you have not made any progress and all your hard work has been for naught. Reaching high goals takes time, but you can progress down the path every day. Recognize what you are doing and what you have done. This will encourage you to keep going and increase your self-esteem.

In the same way, recognizing your achievements can encourage you to undertake even higher goals and take bigger steps at a time. As I started back into my running habit, I remembered how far I had run during the Indy Mini without training or preparation. I doubled my normal first day's run and felt fine the next day. I realized that my endurance is higher than that with which I was crediting myself, and I immediately achieved more. How much more quickly will I meet my recovery goals at this pace?

It is my guess that you have achieved more than you are considering. How have you been successful in your career? What have you done right? What do you do well on a regular basis? On what aspects do you receive compliments? Highlight your achievements, even the small ones. Every day (or every hour!) takes stock of what you have done well. Did you order water rather than soda? Did you take the stairs rather than the escalator? Did you order your dressing on the side? These were conscious choices that took effort and discipline. Well done!
In setting goals it's important to think realistically (doing some exercise but not too much exercise) about setting 2-3 small, short term goals that come out of your long term goals: losing weight and the ability to be active with my family. Those goals should include intent (intending to go to the gym) and effort (I was able to climb one or two more stairs). As you find yourself reaching one goal you'll find your confidence increasing to reach the next goal. You will also need to take into consideration what 'things' help you to reach your goals: groups, friends and family and what 'things' get in the way of your goals: time, energy, work and motivation. Once you are aware of what things you need to reach your goals and what gets in the way you are better able to incorporate those into your goals to help you move forward and build confidence. For example, if you don't like to workout alone then it's important to be aware of that, add that to your goals and find someone to workout with you. If work is a barrier to exercise, add that to your goals and find a way to either incorporate exercise into your work or add it before or after your work. 

Reaching goals boosts your self-confidence, but only if your goals are realistic and attainable. Try the SMART technique:

  • Specific - Be as specific as possible. Exercise 30 minutes per day instead of "exercise more."
  • Measurable - Find a way to measure your success. Learn to play a new song a week instead of "play guitar better."
  • Attainable - Are you sure you can reach your goal at this time? You can't save $100 per month if you only have $50 each month after paying bills.
  • Realistic - Stretch yourself, but don't aim for pie-in-the-sky limits. Giving up coffee completely might be too rough right now versus drinking coffee only once a week.
  • Timely - Give yourself a clear time frame to reach your goal. Everyone needs a deadline to stay motivated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.