Every year, we see clients create lofty resolutions or goals for the next year. Then, as sessions progress, we notice a decline in the desired behavior. Why does this happen?
Goals Aren’t SMART Enough
When creating a resolution or goal, make sure it is SMART:
Goals can fail because they are not specific enough. Stating “I want to be happier” will not produce fair results. Specifying a particular avenue in your life can increase your awareness of the desired behavior. Ex. “I want to be happier in my relationship”.
Next, goals need to be measurable, as it helps track your progress. In this case, you can create ‘mini goals’ to help achieve the greater final product. Using the example of being happier in a relationship, you can create a smaller goal of “not arguing with my partner for 3 days of the next week”. This way, you can notice an improvement in your overall mood, as well as track specific and measurable behaviors that interact with it.
This one is important. Make sure that you are setting goals for yourself that are challenging, but achievable. Overwhelming yourself with impossible feats will deplete your self esteem to set future goals. For instance, many New Year’s resolutions involve going to the gym. Some people want their “dream beach body” in 30 days, and feel defeated when they do not see immediate results. If you are practicing a new behavior, be patient with yourself and set your expectations on the lower side.
Similar to setting attainable goals, make sure that they are realistic. This involves being 100% honest with yourself about what you are capable of achieving, and what might take additional work in the future.
Finally, make sure that your goal is timely. Give yourself a deadline in order to achieve this goal. This provides the right amount of pressure, so that you are able to work on this goal daily and not let it fall to the wayside.