by Nancy Casey
People set goals in order to meet the challenges that stand between them and what they want.
As you begin to set your goals, it’s a good idea to give some careful thought to all the things that you want and all the things that are standing in your way. Here are some ideas for doing that.
List the challenges you face.
List every challenge that you have. Include verything that’s standing in the way of what you want. Make the list as long as you can. You might even add to it later.
Write one goal.
Pick out one of the challenges on your list. What is the smallest thing you can do to take on that challenge? Set a goal for that one little thing. Write it down. Here’s how:
- Say exactly what you are going to do. Make it specific. It must be easy to tell whether you have done this thing or not. When you use verbs such as walk, speak, read, set the alarm, eat, sing, go to class, or find out, you can be clear about what you must do. Words like improve, try, understand, or deal with can indeed reflect what you are striving for, but they are too spongy for you to say exactly when you succeed.
- Set a quantity. 10 pages. One hour. Two questions. Around the block. Use some kind of quantity that will help you know exactly how much is enough for you to meet your goal.
- Say when you are going to do this thing. You could set an exact time. You might say “In the mornings…” Maybe you would say, “On Tuesday…” Many people set goals that begin, “Just for today…” Try to be as specific and realistic as you can.
- Set a time frame for evaluating yourself. How often will you pause and take stock of how you are doing? Each day? Once a week? Starting out with a time frame that is short can help you stay focused. If the time frame is too long, your goal will be in danger of fizzling away.
One goal per challenge
Write one goal for every challenge that you face. Only one goal. There will be plenty of other steps to take, but it all starts with the first one. Write the goal for the first step and don’t worry about the rest yet.
Is this possible?
Consider the goals you have laid out in front of you. How much time and effort will all of this take? Imagine exactly how you will fit all of these things in your life. Is it really practical? Are you secretly counting on miracles?
Fiddle with your goals until you are sure it’s possible to achieve them all. You might need to make some goals a little bit smaller. Perhaps you will set some of the goals aside for now. You could mark them “Soon, I hope” or simply “Later.”
Evaluate as you go
At the end of the time frame you have set in Step 4 above, it is important to evaluate how you are doing. You might be pleased with the way things are going, or you might decide to make some changes. Next week’s post will discuss how to think about that.
Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center in the past and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project, large or small, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.