Here’s how to set realistic goals
December 27, 2023

The New Year brings new opportunities and a blank slate.

We’re now in that time of year when many people reflect on their lives and evaluate what they have accomplished. Many people also set goals for the New Year.

Setting personal goals is important to help you stay motivated, in addition it gives you a direction on what you want to achieve. Research shows that using short-term and long-term goals can improve your self-confidence.

Surveys show, however, that few people succeed in the long run. One reason may be that your goals are too ambitious.

Setting goals is often about:

  • Begin something
  • Stop doing something
  • Do something even better
  • Do less of something
  • Cut bad habits, become a better human being, etc.

Changing habits and the way we do things does not happen by itself. It is hard work, and you must be willing to do the job. You want to change the way you do things, change habits and thought patterns that are deeply ingrained, perhaps over several years. This requires you to actually want to change (not just because you think you should).

Here are 5 tips!

It is not always easy to start the process of change. It also depends a little on the challenges you face and where you are in the process.

Changing something on its own is not the same as being able to do something about all of your life situations or events. Sometimes the most important thing is to recognize that you are doing the best you can, given the circumstances.

Self-efficacy and the experience of mastery is important when it comes to achieving your goals. Previous experiences create the fundation on how you think, feel and act in a situation.

To achieve your goals, you should first map the situation, find the motivation, set realistic goals and then start the work.

1) Identify the situation

Ask yourself:

  • What gives you energy?
  • What gives your life meaning?
  • What do you find challenging?
  • What would you like to change / do more or less of?

Change is not only about setting goals, but also about what can you do to stay motivated to keep making progress.

2) Motivation is the driving force to achieve your goals

Ask yourself:

  • Why do I want this? 
    By asking “Why” for every answer you get, after two to five rounds of questions you will find your deepest motivation.
  • How much time and effort should you set aside to implement?
    To achieve your goals, you must challenge yourself and work actively towards change. You must set aside time to implement. This requires you to actually want to change (not just because you think you should).
  • What are your obstacles?
    Changing habits requires some effort in the beginning. There are no quick solutions on the way to your goal. It is easy to give up because you feel discomfort.

Being aware of feelings, your physical reactions and the thoughts that may be your obstacles are all important as you now begin to start working to change.

What happens to you and how do you react when faced with a challenge?

3) Set realistic goals and start small

Set yourself intermediate goals on the way towards your big goal. Think of the process of change as if you are walking up a staircase, where each stair is synonymous with a step or intermediate goal on the way to the big goal. Every step counts.

By setting yourself interim goals and celebrating small milestones, you will get the feeling of having mastered/achieved something along the way. It will help you to persevere.

Here is how:

If your challenge is setting limits, one obstacle to change might be fear how other people react when you say no.

  1. Your first step could be to practice this in situations that you know you have mastered.
  2. Don’t try this first with the person you most dread saying no to. Practice in less challenging situations first.
  3. Write down suggestions for how you can solve your challenge, without assessing whether you will be able to carry it out.
  4. Choose the suggestion thats easiest to carry out first, and plan for how you can best execute it.
  5. Practice setting boundaries in different situations.

4) Don’t give up

Remember that little achievements count as progress—that you’re trying.

Change takes time. It is a long-term undertaking. The process of change consists of both ups and downs, and you can’t always expect to make progress. And even if you think that you haven’t gotten as far as you would like, this is also a step in the right direction. Every step counts.

  • Keep in mind when you’re working to change that there will probably be some “downturns.”
  • Don’t be disappointed with yourself, but think instead that at least you tried, and next time it will be better.
  • It is important to not give up.

5) Keep track of your progress

During the process of change, it is often easy to forget all the little things you have actually achieved on the way towards your big goal. This is one of many reasons why we have developed Mindfit.

We recommend that you record the positive events in your life and your feelings of mastery along the way.

Recording the small steps confirms that you are on the right path, and you can also look back at everything that you’ve actually achieved when you have a little “downturn” or relapse.

High self-efficacy affects your ability in reaching goals and gives you perseverance when solving difficult tasks. It can be easy to focus on everything you haven’t achieved, so recording progress will help keep your spirits up.

Research shows that when creating new habits, it’s wise to make the new behavior simple to implement, so that it ‘s easy to make it as a daily routine.

It sounds simple, but you have to decide to set aside a few minutes regularly for the process to work. This is perhaps where the greatest challenge lies—remembering to do it.

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