Friday, April 3, 2009

The Importance of Setting Goals

I have been working toward improvement in several areas of my life: losing weight, gaining health, keeping a cleaner house, paying bills on time, etc.  But when I tackle all of these growth areas at once, especially without a plan, I get easily overwhelmed, and pretty much nothing gets done.  What seems to help is setting goals.  In my work with young children with special needs, we set goals annually that we work toward on a daily basis.  Quarterly reports state how close to the goal we have come, and all the wonderful things the child has learned to do in the process.  In my own goal plan, or Individualized Life Plan (ILP), I have addressed the areas needing growth as stated above, but planned small steps.  I want to continue progressing in the area of cleaning the house while I'm losing weight, so my expectations have to be somewhat low.  In this way, I am successful with little accomplishments, and can find the motivation to keep going to the next goal level.
Some people find that rewards help them stay focused.  I have found this helpful, but not for the tiny steps (losing 5 pounds, for example).  What I have done in the past is reward myself with purchased things: a new bathing suit for losing weight, a night out for keeping the house clean and tidy, etc.  However, my new mindful attitude changes all that, and I need to incorporate new ways to celebrate victories.  Here's my list:

  • Music night at home with friends (playing instruments is one of our favorite things to do but doesn't get done enough)
  • Trip to the western part of the state (2 hour drive) to check out the mountains, the museums or the towns
  • Hike by the river
  • Family bike ride
  • Girl time with my friends over a cup of tea
  • Visit to Boston to see a show or museum (with a pass)
Setting goals cuts work into small, manageable pieces, where looking at the whole experience would be challenging and less attainable.  We do it all the time at work without thinking about it, and we teach our children how to do it as well.  So it makes sense to incorporate it for our own ILP's.
What would you put on your ILP?  And what would your rewards be?

1 comment:

Angela said...

Baby steps is the key for me to get anything done! Like you said, otherwise it's overwhelming and I get NOTHING done.
I love your idea of the rewards- they're all nonmaterial but something to look forward to. I especially love "playing music with friends." that sounds really fun.