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Self-Improvement: How to Set Realistic Goals

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It’s already April. So, how are your resolutions going? You may be sticking to them, or you may have already reverted to your 2016 ways. If you’re not happy with your efforts since the turn of the year, now is the perfect time to reflect, refine and return to your resolutions. Here are some key points that explain how to set realistic goals.

Keep It Real

Real, sustainable change comes from breaking down a large task into manageable pieces and working on it consistently. Ask yourself if your goals are a bit extreme. Instead of going to the gym every day, how about starting with twice a week? Instead of running, why not use the elliptical machine or walk on the treadmill with an incline? And of course, if your goal is related to your body, it’s always wise to check with your doctor for a sensible plan of action.

One Thing at a Time

How many goals did you set for yourself? If your heart is set on finding a new job, finishing your college degree and spending more quality time with your spouse and children, you are probably not setting realistic goals. Trying to improve in more than one area of your life can drain the energy you need for change. This can lead to frustration, not satisfaction. Try selecting just one particular thing you want to concentrate on. Pick the one that is most important to you.

What’s Your Motivation?

It might be helpful to ask yourself why you selected this particular self-improvement project in the first place. Is it something you want, or was it driven by an external source? Are you trying to change for someone else? If so, remember that guilt and shame are terrible motivators. They can create a negative image of self-worth. If you are under pressure from a spouse or significant other to change your behavior, other factors in the relationship could be at play. You may want to consider counseling to uncover and address hidden issues that may be sabotaging efforts to reach your goals.

What’s in it for You?

On the other hand, working on a goal that genuinely resonates with you can be very powerful. The letter “I” should be prominent in the statement of your goal. For example, “If I exercise, I will feel better” or “If I learn to drive, I will have more freedom.” When you are the beneficiary of the process, it is much easier to stay with the program. The satisfaction you receive and the positive habits you develop will pay dividends when you move on to your next project.

Deal with Setbacks

Setbacks are always possible. It’s how we manage them that matters. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just discovered 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Be kind to yourself during the self-improvement process. Remember, you haven’t failed. You’ve found a method that doesn’t work for you. If one approach doesn’t succeed, try another.

Find Support

Many people find that coaching helps keep them from getting discouraged. Find a support group or check with your local park district to see if they offer classes on the area you are trying to develop. Many people respond better working with others rather than trying to work things out on their own.

If you feel you are spinning your wheels and still can’t figure out why, just talking to someone who is objective might help. Our counselors at Stenzel Clinical are here to assist you as you go through your journey of self-improvement. Talk to us today.