Each year, millions of people set out with new goals at the beginning of the year yet results show that 8% of people achieve their goals. In fact, some goal setting is more harmful than beneficial says Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School and author of the book “Presence.” The reason? We do not set reasonable attainable goals and instead of improving our situation in life we create more stress and strain. In “Presence,” she explores how being authentic to our “true selves” is essential for reducing stress that holds us back from our full potential.
Here are 4 recommendations Cuddy makes for setting reasonable goals:
1. Avoid “absolute” goals such as go the gym every day. This is unrealistic and does not allow for the interruptions of life.
2. Frame your goals in the positive. When we address changes in a negative way it can stir up feelings and emotions that can contribute to avoidance. Instead of saying “I want to stop eating junk food, say I choose to eat healthier foods.”
3. State your goals as desired outcomes that are attainable. For example, instead of setting a goal of walking 100 miles, break it down to 10 mile segments, so there will be 10 celebrations.
4. Avoid goals that focus on outside forces. Conditions can change and people will let you down. Set goals that are within your sphere of control and constantly set small goals that will lead to the larger desired outcome.
As a final recommendation, give yourself plenty of time to achieve your goals. We over estimate what we can do in the short run and underestimate what we can do in the long run. Plan for down time to make meaning of the life you are living, to appreciate the ups and downs, and to love the ones that count. If we can help add even an hour or two to your week, it might be the difference in an average and a great 2017!
Adapted from Business Insider article by Richard Feloni on Jan 2, 2017