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  • Shannon Schell, LMHC

New Year, New You- 4 Tips for Setting Goals

Here's to setting goals, not resolutions


The year is 2020 and optimism is in the air! Did you vow to make big career changes this year? Did you commit to going back to school to finish up that degree you started five years ago? In 2020 are you taking control of your health by making changes in your diet and increasing activity levels? While having a vision is imperative, it will be incredibly challenging to make your vision a reality without goals and an action plan to see you through to the finish line. For this reason, let’s make 2020 the year to set goals, not resolutions.


Before we get into some strategies for goal setting, it is important to take a step back and reflect on self-esteem. After all, self-esteem will have an influence on your confidence and motivation to pursue your dreams. If Walt Disney really listened and believed the newspaper organization that said he “lacked imagination,” we would not have Disney World. If Dr. Seuss gave up on writing and thought of himself as a failure after being rejected by 27 publishers for his first book, we would not have his wonderful children’s stories that exist today. These are just a few examples of famous failures that continued to persevere despite the criticism and adversity they faced early in their careers. They did not internalize these harsh messages from their critics and allow it to bring down their self-esteem. There will always be outside critics who doubt us and tell us we can’t go after our dreams and goals. We must rise above this and continue to seek validation from within. That said, how do you feel about yourself? Do you have a harsh, critical inner voice that tells you that you can’t be successful? Is fear of failure holding you back? Are you just so overwhelmed that you aren’t sure where to start and how to make this dream a reality? If you are having these thoughts, there are some simple ways to work towards reframing this negative thinking to more positive thinking, which will be conducive for you accomplishing your goals. By placing a priority on self-love and self-compassion, we are “mothering” ourselves. By “mothering” ourselves, we actively work to nurture, love, and accept ourselves despite mistakes or setbacks that happen along the way. “Mothering” ourselves is spending a few minutes in the morning or in the evening reciting positive affirmations and mantras about ourselves. For more information about how to go about creating a personal mantra, please click here to refer to a previous blog post I wrote. “Mothering” ourselves is spending a little bit of time each day practicing deep breathing while breathing in the beauty of the world and breathing out the stress of the day. We can’t “mother” ourselves without “fathering” ourselves as well. “Fathering” ourselves is setting high expectations and goals for ourselves. “Fathering” ourselves is following through and accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves.


Below are four strategies to consider when creating goals that will help to set you up for success in accomplishing your goals.


4 Tips for Setting Goals


1. Ensure your goal is measurable and specific. Let’s say you created a goal to “be well and healthy in 2020.” How can this type of goal be measured? There is simply no way to measure this. This goal is vague, and we need more information to be able to measure it. Perhaps instead you created a goal that stated, “I will run three miles three times a week.” Another goal related to health and well being could state, “I will have at least one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables every day.” Are these goals specific? Yes. Can these goals be measured? Yes. Be sure to also include dates, times, and amounts in your goal statements so that you will be able to measure achievement.


2. Ensure your goal is positive. Let’s say, for instance, you created a goal of, “I will never eat junk food.” Our brains tend to focus on the negative word “never”. This word is a very strong, absolute word. We are human beings, after all, and realistically there will be times when we slip up. A more positive way to word this goal is to create a statement specific to increasing amounts of healthy foods consumed. For another example, let’s look at the goal, “I will try to eat one serving of vegetables each day.” Does this goal sound like a commitment or a possibility? Would you loan money to someone who told you they would try to pay you back? Likely, not. Therefore, commit to creating goals that are positive.


3. Ensure your goal is realistic. Is your goal practical? I could set a goal of earning $1 million by the end of the week but it is not very practical or realistic. Also, when creating a long-term goal, it is important to consider the steps it will take to accomplish the goal. Often, we can become anxious and overwhelmed when we focus too much on the future and the major goals we are striving for and working to accomplish. One approach to this that would help reduce your anxiety is to stay mindful and focus on the here-and-now. For instance, adopt a mentality in which you wake up in the morning and determine what steps you will take to work towards your goal. Even if they are small steps, little by little and day by day, you are working towards accomplishing your objectives.


4. Ensure your goal is important. Is the goal important to you? In other words, are you working towards this goal for YOU and not because it is what society wants, what your partner wants, what your parents want, etc.? Are the objectives that you are striving to reach a true reflection of your own personal values and interests? You will have more drive and persistence to continue to reach for the stars when your objectives are aligned with what you truly want, not what others out there want for you.


You are valued. You are enough. You are worthy. Get past those fears that are paralyzing you and keeping you from going after what you want. Go get it in 2020! It is going to be a great year!


Did any of this resonate with you? Is fear holding you back from accomplishing your goals? Do you have big dreams and goals, but you are completely overwhelmed and not sure where to start? I would be honored to partner with you and help you to reach the personal growth you are striving for. Feel free to click here to send me a message or contact me at (813) 501-2703 if you would like to set up an appointment for counseling. I am currently accepting new clients for evenings and Saturday mornings. My office is located in the Carrollwood area at 13801 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. Tampa, FL.


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