by Kristin Kuiper, MSW, LMSW
2012 has arrived—can you believe it? For most, the parties are over, the gifts unwrapped, school has begun. I’m enjoying hearing my clients reflect on the past year —listening to them share how they are growing and how they are working to overcome the obstacles they face in their lives. Being a goal setter myself, I look forward to carving out new ways to focus my time and energy this year. A lot of the goals that I’m hearing about lately have to do with body image, with friendships and family relationships, and with work and career. As I’m listening to people develop goals there are several things that consistently come to mind when I think of setting yourself up for success in working towards something that is important to you. I encourage you to keep these things in mind as you begin this new year.
- When you set a goal, it’s helpful to focus on the process, not just the goal itself. For example, if you are trying to get into better physical shape, focusing on steps like “I’m going to work out 3 times per week” or “I’m going to eat one portion of dessert instead of 2” can be more easily achieved than “I’m going to lose 20 pounds.”
- Recognize what is realistic given your stage of life and other commitments. One helpful saying that I heard a long time ago is “You might be able to have it all, just not all at once.” If you are working full time and have teens at home, it might be difficult to accomplish a goal that involves a lot of extra time and energy! If you have an aging parent you are caring for, it may be unrealistic to develop a lot of new friendships over the coming months. If you are going through a very difficult transition, right now might not be the time to quit smoking. When you set goals, be real with yourself and allow for the possibility that the goal might need to be reset along the way.
- Check in with your values when you are setting goals. It is often more motivating to work towards something when it clearly reflects a value of yours or feels purposeful to you. When you examine ways that you would like to be challenged this coming year, it is helpful to ask yourself how your pursuits line up with your values and beliefs. For example, how does going back to school line up with your broader values of work and purpose? Or, how does beginning a date night with your spouse reflect the importance you put on the strength of your marriage and family? I’m sure you can think of some examples too…
I wish each of you a healthy, safe, and joyful 2012. Even if you aren’t a New Year’s resolution fan, remember that goal setting and personal growth can happen any time of year!