How to Set Effective Goals

It’s the time of year when so many of us are thinking about how to set effective goals for the new year ahead. We know that most people don’t succeed in keeping their new year’s resolutions. Why? If you’re going to achieve a goal, it’s imperative to set yourself up for success.

Goals should be:

  1. Specific – Be clear on what you are trying to achieve. If your goal is too vague (I want to be happier) you may not know when you’ve reached it.
  2. Achievable – Break larger goals into smaller pieces to avoid becoming overwhelmed or discouraged.
  3. Time limited – Choose a realistic date by which you will achieve your goal (or sub-goals).
  4. Framed in the positive – When possible, state what you will do rather than what you are trying to refrain from or change (I will eat 5 servings of veggies every day rather than I won’t eat processed foods).

Goal setting tips:

  1. Write down your goals.
  2. Check-in with yourself on a regular basis.
  3. Evaluate your progress.
  4. Adjust your goals and dates as needed.
  5. Reward your successes.
  6. Have a friend, therapist, sponsor or someone who will hold you accountable and offer encouragement.

Let me know how you’re doing with your goals.

In the meantime, there’s a lot more good stuff in the Grow Happiness newsletter.

Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in the San Jose area, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in Campbell, CA where she is available for in-person counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism.

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