Guaranteed to Fail

It’s just about that time … many of us start to think about goals for the New Year. Does this sound like you: exercise more often; lose weight; eat healthier; better self care; take a vacation; start my own practice, etc. The list just goes on and on.

The sad thing is that for most people goals remain just that… an ambition or a dream that stands little chance of becoming reality.

But why is that? Why do so many people set goals but then don’t stick with them? Research has shown that the #1 goal (exercising!) is forgotten by the middle of February, when most fall right back into their old habits.

You see, there are 3 main reasons contributing to this phenomenon:  goals are too unrealistic, there is no measurability attached to them and they are not written down.

The goal is too unrealistic

It’s easy to see how some goals might be too unrealistic. Just look at an example:  Jack is significantly out of shape, he does not exercise on a regular basis and his goal is to FINISH the Tour de France within the year. While some might be able to pull this off, for most of us (and for Jack!) it would be VERY difficult, if not next to impossible.

Suffice it to say, it is important to set goals that we can accomplish; otherwise we just set ourselves up for failure. Let me be clear though, this does not mean that you should not stretch and push yourself to test your own limits and reach new heights.

The goal has no measurability attached to it

When setting a goal we need to build in some measure to let us know that we are on the right track to accomplish it. If the goal lacks a way of measuring progress, it most likely will fall to the wayside.

A prime example here is “I will start to exercise”. Well, how many days per week are you going to exercise? How long will each workout last? Will you work out in the morning or in the evening? And what type of exercise will you do? … All of this is very easy to measure: either you worked or you didn’t!

Defining what it is that you will do to meet your new goal allows you to measure your success and build in some degree of accountability. That way you stay on track from the start (or you get back on track) so that you can reach your goal (starting to exercise) and stick with it (exercise from now on).

Goal is not written down

Remember the saying: “If it’s not written down it doesn’t exist”? Well, this certainly seems to be true for goal setting. It’s likely we will forget a goal unless we wrote it down. And it’s likely that we get off track with a goal unless it got written down. More often than not a goal unwritten becomes vague and often morphs into something different altogether.

Think about your charting. For most providers it’s difficult to follow up and remember everything discussed with a patient, even though the visit may have happened just a few days ago. You may have discussed and agreed on a certain treatment goal, but unless you wrote it down (charted it) it’s hard to follow up because you may not remember all the details.

Additionally, setting goals allows you to get clarity on what it is that you want and what you may expect from others. Having clear goals makes it easier to evaluate opportunities and choose the best course of action at the time.

Goals allow you to define milestones to measure your progress and make corrections should you have gotten of course. On the other hand, if you don’t know where you’re going it really doesn’t matter how, when or if you get there!

So take the time to plan for the months ahead, it just might be well worth your time!

©2011, Johanna Hofmann, MBA, MAc, LAc.  All Rights Reserved.

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  1. Pingback: Best In Nurse Blogs: "Live and Let Live" Award Edition! | The Millionaire Nurse Blog

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