Practical Goal Setting

the principles of practical goal setting

The principles of practical goal setting are not difficult; in fact, they are rather simple. Too often, goals are missed, or never embarked upon, because of being made too complicated. There are generally considered 5 concerns: goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. This is considered the SMART approach. However, there are several psychological factors that play into setting and achieving goals. For example, there is a pattern of behavior known as ‘approach-avoidance’ which is when we start doing things to avoid reaching our goal as we get closer to it. There are any number of ways we can self-sabotage reaching a goal for various reasons such as self-doubt or concerns for how attaining our goal may impact others in our lives. Then, of course, there is the issue of motivation in the first place. Do we really want this goal, or is it something others want for us, or are pressuring us to attain? The motivation behind the goal can make a huge difference in maintaining the drive, consistency and perserverance often necessary to achieve a goal.

Other psychological issues of import have to do with how we think about our goals. Too often people set goals around what they don’t want, such as wanting to lose weight or not wanting to smoke. The mind works in such a way that it does not register ‘not’ or ‘don’t’ so a goal of not eating chocolate cake is far, far less effective than a goal of eating healthy food. The mind cannot visualize and hold an image of what it would be like to ‘not be angry’ but instead holds the image of ‘be angry.’ If a person has a goal of not being angry, it would need to be rephrased to something like being calm or being easy going, which the mind can visualize.

The use of affirmations and visualization is a critical factor in achieving goals. How best to design and apply affirmations, and how to most effectively harness the mind’s power of visualization is something one often needs to learn, and then practice. If you are serious about employing practical goal setting techniques, consider online counseling with a professional familiar with such tactics. Open Mind Counseling does provide this kind of skill building.  You may enjoy reading from one of our blog posts about  formative affirmations.