With the beginning of the new year, many people have set new goals for improvements in their life and health. Whether patients are suffering from cigarette addiction, diabetes, obesity or mesothelioma, setting goals can have a positive outcome on longevity, pain management and quality of life. Focusing on goal attainment can improve feelings of self-worth and personal satisfaction while improving the quality of life, regardless of one's prognosis. To set positive and practical goals one must maintain several elements.
First, Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and make constraints that are reasonable. It would be unreasonable to expect oneself to write a book in 24 hours. However, writing a book within 6 months is attainable! Setting reasonable time frames for goals encourages the successes that build self-confidence and self-esteem. Setting unreasonable time-frames will create feelings of failure, so this is the first important element of goal setting.
Secondly, goals must be personally meaningful, but small enough to achieve within the allowable time-frame. Setting a time-frame of 12 months to loose 120 pounds, for instance, might be intimidating. But a goal to loose 10 pounds per month would achieve this goal in more manageable steps and allow one to build confidence with each monthly success.
Next, good goal setting is measurable. This allows the goal-setter to monitor and improve their techniques. When goals are met, it also acts as a cue for celebration of a worthy achievement. For instance, setting a goal to "eat a better diet" provides no means for knowing whether it has been obtained. However, setting a goal to eat no more than 2000 calories per day, with at least 24 grams of fiber, is specific, measurable and attainable.
Good goal setting also includes a specific plan for achieving the measurable outcome. If, as above, one were planning a 2000 calorie diet, the plan might include means for measuring the calorie content of foods, methods for tracking ingested foods on a daily basis and ways to determine the food's fiber content.
Finally, goal setting should include a means for keeping on track with plans. Most people find it easy to set goals with a little practice, but difficult to carry through with them consistently, because most goals require a consistent change in behavior. The easiest methods for helping oneself stay on track with new goals is to post pertinent reminders in logical locations. For dietary changes, posting goal reminders and tracking successes is often done in the kitchen or on the refrigerator door. Other goals, such as remembering to take needed medications, may require other cues. Consider using the alarm-clock setting on a cell phone for time-sensitive items.
These elements of goal setting, including timeliness, personal meaning, measurement and planning will ensure a more positive outcome and can be applied to any worthy goal from relaxation to pain management. As each goal is reached, don't forget the importance of celebration and self-congratulations. Reaching goals deserves self-acknowledgement and builds confidence.