It's a goal. Tuesday September 17, 2013
Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the feeling that your life is directionless, that you're drifting rather than heading anywhere in particular? It's as if you are wandering without aim rather than focusing on a journey to a specific destination.
Thinking about your goals - or lack of them can be very helpful.
People are goal-driven animals. When we are hungry, our goal is to find food. When we are hot our goal is to get cool. For the most part, we are not aware of these everyday goals and our responses to them. But nevertheless they drive our behaviour.
There are also goals that we consciously set (like getting a certain qualification, moving to a different part of the country or taking control of our anger). Behavioural scientist have studied goals for many years and here's some advice which may help you.
As a rule, stretch goals (ones that are at the limit of your capability) are more likely to be achieved (and be more beneficial) than easy goals. It sounds paradoxical, but if a goal is too easily achieved, it's hard to get motivated. On the other hand, there's no point is setting yourself up for failure by picking a goal that's over-ambitious. So your aim should be to choose a goal that's possible but still a significant challenge.
To be effective, a goal needs to be concrete and specific. You need to know when you've succeeded. There's a saying a business that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. So aiming to get fitter isn't a genuine goal but an intention. On the other hand, aiming to be fit enough to run 5 miles in say 40 minutes is an authentic goal. You can plan for it and measure your progress. Managing your money better isn't a goal, whereas cutting your expenses by £100 a month is a genuine target.
In a similar way, goals need a deadline. So your fitness target should be 5 miles in 40 minutes by, say, within 3 months. Goals needn't always be long term. It's sometimes useful to set yourself what might be called 'now' goals - targets you can achieve quickly in order to boost your self confidence and help you on your way to achieve a more substantial target. For your fitness programme, for instance, a now goal might be to acquire a comfortable pair of jogging shoes.
The moral is, success breeds success.
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