Before even thinking about setting a goal, ensure it is DRIVEN, motivated, inspired, meaningful and/or purposeful.
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Goal setting and "SMART" goals are embedded in our brains as far back as elementary school, whether we actually use them or not. To refresh your memory, SMART is an acronym for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Unfortunately, so much focus is put on ensuring our goals are SMART, an important key factor in ensuring long term success is often skipped over.
It doesn’t matter how SMART or well written your goals are, they are completely useless if they hold no meaning, you have no motivation or don’t care enough about the end result. They need to be DRIVEN.
Case in point:
Working in an occupational rehabilitation setting I had the exciting job of helping injured workers set rehabilitation related goals with the end goal of returning to work. For some, these worked like a charm, but for others, they did absolutely nothing. Yes they all wanted their injuries to improve and pain to go away (duh!), but few actually wanted to return to work (not that most would admit this). The “reward” did not justify the means. Their desire to return to work was low, making their motivation to work towards their rehabilitation goals low. Unfortunately, with the insurance company as the actual client in this setting, helping these workers' return to work was a necessity. Perhaps they should have chosen more meaningful careers . . . a topic for a future post!
Setting personal goals should be different.
When it comes to personal goals, no one is forcing you to do something and the motivation is usually intrinsic. This means it comes from within, whether it be to feel good about yourself, learn something, set a personal best or improve your health. There is nothing wrong with extrinsic motivation, such as financial gain or to impress someone, but often it is not enough. When it comes to lifestyle goals, you are more likely to follow through when you are intrinsically motivated.
Analyze your motivation and the meaning your goal holds. Without these, you will fail every time. And not just a little motivation, it needs to be a lot. Ask yourself WHY. What is your motivation to make the change? What is the reward? Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? Rank your motivation on a scale of 1-10. How can you increase this ranking? Based on this number will you follow through? Is there anyone who can help to motivate you along the way?
Realized you are not as motivated as you previously thought?
Pick a new goal. Or, figure out how to find the motivation. Do your research. You picked that goal for a reason. The more educated you are the better you will understand the benefits of making a change and follow through.
When it comes to health, understand and accept that the benefits might take time or even be invisible.
Yes, improving your diet can result in factors such as increased energy, better digestion or reduced weight. But if those things were not an issue before, the benefits might not be immediately noticeable. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Maybe your blood pressure or cholesterol dropped or your chances of getting heart disease or cancer are lower. Maybe you will live an extra 5 years. We are healthy until we are not. Take charge of your health before it is too late. It’s a lot easier to prevent disease and illness than to fight them.
Only once you have determined which goals are DRIVEN, MEANINGFUL and you are MOTIVATED to achieve, move forward with the goal setting process. Good luck!