Setting goals for yourself is one of the best things to keep you motivated to move forward. The trick is to know how big or small of goals to set.
I used to set goals for myself all the time. The only problem was that my goals were way too lofty and way too specific. I would either beat myself up to reach those goals or fall into a big depression if I couldn’t reach them. I did not know how to have a balance in my life; for me I needed to be the best in everything.
A problem with those goals was that even when I did meet them, I would feel like I still could have done better. An ‘A’ grade wasn’t good enough, I needed an ‘A+’. When I got an ‘A+’ it wasn’t good enough unless it was a 100%. You see how that can be toxic?
For a while I stopped setting goals for myself when I realized that my goals were becoming toxic and grossly unhelpful. But I recently learned that I need to make goals for myself to keep some motivation in my life.
Here are some tips that I came up with for keeping my goals realistic:
- Don’t set your goals too high. Make them something you know you can do, but that you might need a little push to be able to reach. I recently picked running back up, so one goal I set for myself the second day of running was that I was going to run the same distance in a little less time or see if I could go even farther. Know what happened? I ended up running over a mile more than the first day! It’s great what happens when you set reachable goals.
- Don’t set an unrealistic time frame. It is great to have goals for yourself, but do not set too short of a time frame for yourself. Maybe start with no time frame on your goal and see how things go. Then, for your next goal you can make an educated assumption of an appropriate time frame for meeting that goal. For myself, I like to set vague time frames like “by next summer I will ___”.
- Set your goals in increments. You may want to eventually be able to run a marathon or get your whole backyard landscaped. One way to increase your productivity and celebrate your successes is to make these goals in increments. You could say “I’m going to run 2 more miles by next month.” By making multiple smaller goals, you will celebrate your small successes, motivating and encouraging yourself to keep going. Also, if you can’t reach these small goals, you will be less disappointed if you don’t meet a small goal rather than one that you’ve been working toward for months.
- Celebrate everything you do. In order to meet goals you set for yourself you need to have the self confidence that you can reach those goals. The best way to do this is to celebrate whatever you do. If you meet small goals, don’t downplay their size or how hard you had to work and celebrate your successes. Make sure to celebrate even when you don’t meet a goal. Just recognize what you did do. Say things to yourself like, “I worked really hard to do X,Y and Z. Even though I didn’t get there all the way I still was able to do X and Y really well.”
I have tried all these tricks and they work so well for me. Sometimes things do not work out because of factors out of your control. But, you are awesome and you can do most of what you set your mind and heart to. But, if you don’t learn to be realistic about your goals and capabilities you will not accomplish anything, or if you do it just will not be very satisfying.
Hopefully these methods can work for you as well. I want everyone to be able to feel the self-pride that comes from meeting goals and celebrating yourself. Trust me, I know how hard it can be to recognize the great things you do, no matter how big or small. But once you are able to do that, it is so wonderful and healing for your soul.