Are you struggling to stick to your goals beyond just a few days of setting them? Are you beating yourself up about it and saying – “Maybe I just don’t have it in me!”? Here’s the thing, you’re not alone.
As a counsellor, I often get repeat clients who come back for sessions only to confess that they haven’t been able to follow through with their goals. Here’re verbatim responses from one of my clients at different points in time:
After the first session :
I would do that. No point of procrastination now. This has to be done
Two months later:
I messed up…my self-confidence is an all-time low… Maybe I am lazy…
Often, in such cases, I advise my clients to maintain a journal.
A journal can be effective for a variety of applications, but here we’ll just focus on one – goal management.
Steps in Goal Management
1. Problem Identification
As the famous American Inventor, Charles Kettering puts it
A problem well stated is a problem half-solved
Often, however, we’re too worn out to be able to identify the exact problem that’s troubling us.
A good problem statement has three key parts, the current state, the goal state and the list of obstacles. Example:
I am living an unhealthy lifestyle. I need to work out
Here the current state is the unhealthy lifestyle, the goal state is good health and the obstacle is the lack of exercise.
Once ready, the problem statement is the first thing you should document in your journal.
2. Goal Setting
Goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Continuing with the above example, one can set a SMART goal as:
I will go to the gym for 30 minutes in the morning, 5 days a week from tomorrow
Put the goal statement down in your journal.
If you have to go from Point A to Point B, there is only one way to find out if you will succeed – by tracking your progress regularly.
Convert the goal statement into one or more simple Yes/No questions and then track the responses periodically.
In the above example, someone who wants to focus on serious bodybuilding may define the goal questions as:
Did I workout my Legs today? (Target 1/week),
Did I workout my Chest today? (Target 1/week),
Did I workout my Back and Abs today? (Target 1/week), etc.
On the other hand, if someone wants to simply de-stress the goal question could be:
Did I exercise for 30 minutes today? (Target 5/week)
Put the goal question/s down in your journal.
Note: Depending on your level of comfort, you could maintain a record in a diary, mark on a calendar or use a spreadsheet on your computer. There are quite a few smartphone apps which are quite good for journaling. If your goals are fitness specific, there are some cool wearables available in the market.
When you keep track of your progress, your journal becomes a rich repository of data or information.
Data should lead to insights, which in turn should lead to action. For example:
I worked out on Monday, but missed it on Tuesday and Wednesday
I have already exhausted the 2 days of rest in my 5-day-a-week plan
From Thursday to Sunday, I have to work out every day to meet my goal
The corrective action that one takes to get back on track to achieve a goal is called remediation.
Make a note of the remediation plan in your journal for ready reference.
Goals are not written in stone. You can recalibrate them. Constant failure on goals can indicate that they’re too high. On the contrary, if they’re too easy to achieve, they will not be fulfilling.
Also, suppose you want to add another worthwhile goal, eg., learning to play a guitar, to your routine. You may need to take time off from your other goals. eg., replacing serious bodybuilding with basic fitness. It’s perfectly fine to make these personal choices and adjust goals accordingly.
However, ensure that you put down the rationale for these changes in your journal.
You need to stay motivated to achieve your goals of your own volition.
Reward yourself for reaching the milestones. Finished the first month of your workout successfully? Go buy yourself a three scoop ice-cream or a chilled can of beer!
If you overindulged, as long as you remember to burn those extra calories, you can skip journaling it ☺
Why is Journaling Effective?
Journaling for goal management helps us in making a commitment to ourselves. It helps us stay focused and motivated. It is a mirror of our learning and progress through the milestones we define for ourselves.
Want more tips, tricks and tools on better goal management? Want to become the best version of yourselves? Talk to an Expert at YourDOST today for personalised guidance.