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A goal is a personal commitment. It is a contractual agreement you make to reach a certain mark on or before a certain date. If a goal is not personal, then the chance of reaching that goal diminishes significantly. Why work towards something that you do not want to accomplish?
In order to accomplish a goal, it must be attainable. The following are characteristics that need to be considered when setting a goal:
- Realistic - your goals should match your abilities. If you have never played the piano before, setting the goal to play Beethoven in two months time is unrealistic. Setting a goal to be able to play chopsticks in two months time is more realistic.
- Credible - you have to believe in yourself that you have the ability to reach your goal within the time period you set forth. You have to have the credentials; you have to be credible.
- Measurable - if you set the goal, "I want to be thin," but you do not define "thin," then this is not a measurable goal. To make this goal measurable, you might say. "I want to lose 15 pounds and then I will be thin."
- Short range - long range goals are difficult to work towards because there is no self-gratification of immediate success. By taking your weight loss plan and breaking it down into weeks instead of the months it would take to lose 15 pounds, you will be more likely to stay on task and complete your goal. If you would state that you want to lose two pounds each week for the next eight weeks, then you would have a goal accomplished each week, instead of waiting two months (this is a process centered goal instead of an outcome centered goal).
- Flexible - sometimes goals do not work exactly as planned and may need to be adjusted. Using the above example, perhaps your ideal body weight is just 10 pounds off of what you currently weigh and losing 15 pounds would put your health at risk. In this circumstance, you would want to adjust your weight loss goal from 15 to 10 pounds.
- Personal - your plan must be personal to you; it must fulfill a personal need or want. If you are losing weight because someone told you that you should and not because you really want to lose the weight, chances are you will not reach your goal.
When developing your goal, a good starting point is to answer the following questions:
- What is the final goal that I want to reach?
- Is this goal attainable in one action or a series of smaller actions?
- If a series of smaller actions are needed, am I capable of reaching these smaller goals?
- What is the time period I am giving myself to reach my goals?
- Can I visualize the end result?
- Is my current lifestyle one that will help me to reach my goal? If not, what can I do to change my behavior(s) to reach my goal?
- Is my plan for my goal short, specific, and attainable?