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How to set goals you'll actually
Posted 18 December 2018
Counsellor Lisa Bondarenko chats to us about the key to setting goals and sticking to them.
Habits are the key to success
Setting goals and sticking to them is one of life’s many challenges. They are often set upon with great intentions, yet too often fall short of the mark. But what if it didn’t need to be so difficult, or if you had all the tips and tricks at your fingertips to ensure you had the best possible shot at seeing them through? Keep reading…
To achieve a goal, we need to have developed and “nailed” the specific habit that will play a vital part in helping you cross the finish line. Habits are the key to success. They can often be really boring behaviours, however these habits, performed consistently, are the keys to success.
What are the best ways to form a habit?
1. Pick a small 'to do action'
Break down the action you’re choosing. For example, spending more time with family isn’t small and might be hard to fulfil long term. Instead, set yourself the goal of not looking at your work phone or computer in the evenings until the kids are in bed.
2. Attach the new action to a previous habit
Pick one that’s already established in your life. For example, when you’re in a work meeting your phone is on DND/Silent and you respond when you’re next available. Therefore, you can engage the same process during weeknights between 6pm-9pm in family time.
3. The habit has to be easy and doable
It commonly takes 21 days to create a new one so make sure you are setting yourself up for success in those first few weeks. Pick two nights a week to begin with, and increase it incrementally.
Unsurprisingly, the most common themes for new goals are around exercising more, losing weight and eating healthier. These can be good healthy goals, after all, physical health is imperative to doing life well.
However, these types of goals only bring into focus one-third of the trifecta! What about mental and emotional health goals? Are they even important, and what could they be?
Emotional health is an important part of overall health. It is simple. People who are emotionally healthy are in control and aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. These things in turn increase personal accountability for all things wellbeing.
Remove 'should' from your vocabulary
When you think you ‘should’ do something, it probably means you don’t want to do it at all but feel pressured because it is what is expected. It is so important to be aligned with your own core values and beliefs so when the big SHOULD raises its head you are able to say yes or no confidently.
Collectively, hindsight is a powerful experience “I should have done XYZ” is something I commonly hear. As an all-to-familiar human emotion, make sure it doesn’t hold you ransom. It serves no purpose. If you could have done the “should”, you would have, but for whatever reason – you were not able too.
Mental health has a huge influence on how we think, feel, and respond to daily behaviour. The state of your mental health is known to directly affect the ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s curve balls.
We have all done it before; pushed ourselves to do something we didn’t want to, or said, “I’m fine” when in actual fact, we were far from it. Being honest and authentic about what you say and do is incredibly important for your mental health. Don’t remain out of sync. Become congruent from the inside out.
Mental health goals
The ability to set realistic goals depends largely on having hope. But how do you find hope when your life has had a series of disappointment, failures, loss, and potential judgment due to a misunderstanding of your mental health challenges?
A far better approach to mental health “goals” is to identify interests, desires or aspirations. A purpose. Every human being on the planet requires and desires purpose, even without knowing it! What interests you, what have you always wanted to do, what awakens you or helps you jump out of bed in the morning? Dare to dream, it’s one of life’s greatest weapons especially in the face of building a healthy mental state.
From a biological perspective, finding meaning and purpose is essential to brain health as it can help generate new cells and create new neural pathways in the brain. It also is known to strengthen the immune system, relieve pain and stress, and keep people motivated in the pursuit of overall health and wellbeing.
Guilt is a wasted emotion
After all, we can’t change the past, only the future. Sometimes we are forced to make decisions that can cause pain for yourself and others. This doesn’t mean it was the wrong one. Life brings with it the light and dark, highs and lows and difficult conversations and choices. Sometimes we need to be brave and courageous for our health, but guilt holds no place in that.
The golden rules
- Go slow
- Run your own race
- Focus on every part of your ‘human being’
- Less is best
Do something every day of every week of every month and the chances are, this time next year you will look back and be so glad you did.
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Lisa Bondarenko is a counsellor supporting people to function more effectively in their lives and relationships. She has a holistic approach to physical, emotional and mental health, encouraging her clients to live consciously and proactively, as well as develop increased self-awareness, insight and skills.