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Setting Goals Effectively

Goals are tend to come up often. In this life, we are often for accomplishing big goals - getting good grades, going to a good college, getting a job, getting a promotion, etc.

These goals, however, are often extrinsic, set by our culture. Often, it can be helpful to think about what goals do you want to accomplish? What sort of goals will help you live a more intentional, meaningful life? What will feel satisfying and nourishing? These are big questions that can often be hard to answer. A place to start can be to think about your values. What are some landmarks that will keep you going towards the destination of your values, whatever they may be? For example, if you value connection, maybe a goal would be to schedule a lunch with a friend this week or take one of your kids out on a special "date" every weakened.

And when setting goals, the way you go about it can be helpful in setting yourself up for success.

  1. Be precise about what is that you want to accomplish. It is very common to set goals that are vague, "e.g., I will spend more time with my kids" The best goals are specific, where you will know whether you achieved it or not, e.g., "I will read to my kids each night for 20 minutes before bed"

  2. You want to set the kind of goals where you can measure how you are doing. It can often be helpful to keep a written record of your goals and progress each week.

  3. You want your goals to be active, where you define your goals in terms of what to do rather than what not do. E.g., instead of saying "stop scrolling on my phone while spending time with my kids" you may say "leave my phone in another room and be present when spending time with my kids"

  4. You want to make changes that are reasonable/feasible for you. If you don't socialize much, it may be unrealistic to schedule three lunches with different friends each week. Meeting up with one friend each week may be a more realistic goal. Other unrealistic goals may be to never yell at your kids; to say yes to all invitations to spend time with friends. Avoid setting goals that use words such as always, never, and every day.

  5. You want your goals to be limited. Don't set more than 1-2 goals per week; or you may become overwhelmed.


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