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  • Writer's pictureDr. Stephanie Juffs

No More Boring Goals!

This picture is my monthly calendar showing my exercise log from July and I’m proud to say my physical activity increased a lot from the months prior to July and I reached a big goal of increasing my physical activity! (I should also admit I missed a performance related one, but hey, failure is an important part of the process, am I right? And because it wasn’t for lack of effort, I’m not disappointed.)

I did NOT achieve my goal of increasing my physical activity by reading a motivational quote, promising myself to work harder and then voila, new goal achieved! I can promise you now, that doesn't work. (Okay, disclaimer: I'm being dramatic. Research shows this type of "goal setting" doesn't work 90% of the time. If you're in that 10%, good for you! I don't like those odds myself...)

So how did I do it? I achieved my goal via the tried and true way, but with one small difference. I set myself a realistic goal for the month, I outlined ways I could achieve it that I enjoy doing, tracked my activities, and so ultimately I achieved what I set out to do. I used the SMART acronym, but I also made sure to follow one more little (but very important!) detail.

I'll leave you in suspense for a minute. First, a reminder of our old friend, the SMART method of goal setting:

The SMART method is well-researched and goes back years. It hasn't changed much because it is very effective. The other goal setting detail? My goal was something that was more difficult to attain than I usually set, and that I was really pumped about!

DID YOU KNOW: Research into goal setting says that to be most effective, goals shouldn't just be SMART goals, but they also need to be CHALLENGING and EXCITING!!

“The more difficult and specific a goal is, the harder people work to achieve it.”

Your goals should be within your reach, but I want you to ignore the ‘A’ in SMART a little bit. You should also challenge yourself! Push a bit further and dream bigger. You’re actually more likely to stick with your goals and achieve them if they challenge you. Do you remember that performance goal I talked about earlier that I said I missed? It was a pretty big reach on a new PR. After reflecting, I'm reminding myself I'm further ahead than I would have been had I set an easier goal because the challenge really motivated me to stick to the plan. I knew I had to stick to my schedule to get there. I also recognize that although I "failed" at a pretty big reach, I improved a lot on that task. I'm still proud of myself, and have reset and readjusted my goal, and I'm excited to take another crack at it. The challenge helped with my adherence and my work ethic.

“The excitement of the possibility pushes us to take action.”

If the idea of goal setting makes you groan, I want you to forget about the concept/theory of goal setting for a minute and remember a moment in your life when you were really happy about something. Were you going on a big vacation? Winning a big game? Getting a big promotion? Hitting a new PR? Now, pull yourself back to the present moment. Do you want that feeling again? You’ve got to set a goal about something like THAT! Let’s recreate this feeling of happiness and excitement with something new. When you come up with a new goal I want you to remember this. Does this goal get you excited? Do you WANT it? Does it give you those little butterflies in your stomach? Are you pumped to get out there and start making changes? It’s time to build momentum, and don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t set boring goals… set the ones that get you FIRED UP to make changes!

In the clinic, I’ll often ask you about your goals for treatment. I know I’m putting you on the spot, so don’t worry if you don’t have an answer right away. I want to get you thinking. What do you want to get back to doing? What else would you like to achieve if you could? I want to know what you find challenging and exciting. These ideas will help us come up with an effective treatment plan together, and let us know when we’ve gotten there!

You may have heard that you should write your goals down (you’ll be more likely to achieve them), but research has shown telling a friend and updating them regularly is just as effective (if not more)! So tell me your goals, and then it's time to get going on a plan. Dream big, and set big goals. Set goals that excite you so much they actually scare you a little. You're more likely to stick with them.

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