Tag Archives: goals

The Big Picture

Picture yourself in 20 years. What year is it? How old are you? Where are you? What are you doing with your time and energy? How do you feel? Are you healthy? Peaceful? Relaxed? What have you done with the past 20 years?

What this picture is now and what it will become are both up to you. You can’t (and shouldn’t!) expect a doctor or a minister or a family member to change your life for you. You can’t wait for other people to change for you. Take actions on your own behalf. Stand up for yourself and treat yourself well.

You may be wondering, “Where do I start? How?” You may feel overwhelmed and confused. Planning to change your stress habits or to develop a new lifestyle is a large task, but not an impossible one. Like all goals, it requires an honest will to pursue a course of action. It needs time and energy. It needs a plan for change. Planning is a process, not a product. There is no perfect plan and no plan will work forever. Your plan must be revised throughout life.

Goals will change, and so will life. You will need to make mid-course corrections. Stresses will come and go, but after all is said and done, you still remain. Make sure you don’t look back with regret on what might have been.

Reach goals and make decisions using “if … then” technique

When considering options, do you suffer from analysis paralysis? Or, do you impulsively react? To counter both of these approaches use the “if … then technique:”
· If I do ­____ then ____ will happen.

For example, you have two job offers and must decide which to accept. One seems more interesting but pays significantly less; the other pays more but requires working more hours:

If I take the job that seems more interesting but pays less, then:
• I could only pay small amounts off my debt monthly.
• I’d enjoy my work more and be less stressed.
• Commuting would be less expensive and time-consuming since the job is closer to home.
• I’d spend more time with my family because I’d work fewer hours.

If I take the higher paying job, then:
• More commute time and over-time would keep me away from home more.
• With less time at home doing household chores and spending time with the family would become more challenging.
• My family might step up and help with chores. Maybe they’d even appreciate what I do around the house more.
• I could hire a housekeeper.

At first glance this technique seems like just the pros and cons of your choices. It’s different, however, in that it encourages you to think in terms of the consequences of your options. It helps you think before you act.
· If you rescue your child from her irresponsible behavior again then you’ll teach her you’ll rescue her and she won’t have to responsibility for herself.
· If you buy that expensive outfit then you’ll have less money and you’ll look great for the party. This forces you to choose what you value more: looking great or saving money.

To avoid the ready-aim-aim-aim-and-never-fire or the ready-fire-aim approaches, use if … then and join the ready-aim-fire group.

A second and different use of “if … then” is in planning and helping you accomplish goals.

For instance, for a weight loss goal, use if … then:
1. If ____ happens, then I’ll do ____.
o E.g., If dessert is offered I’ll decline and request water.
2. Then, add your specific goal: I’ll walk 30 minutes weekdays at 6:30 a.m.

NYU psychologist, Peter Gollwitzer reviewed 94 studies that researched people who used this 2-step planning technique and found significantly higher success rates for just about any goal. He explains it works because it speaks the language of your brain: the language of contingencies.

Deciding exactly how you’ll react to circumstances regarding your goal creates a link in your brain between the situation or cue (if) and the behavior that should follow (then.)
• When dessert is offered (cue) it links to your desired behavior – turn it down and request water.
Gollwitzer says this link keeps you from having to consciously monitor your goal. Your plans get carried out without apparent effort.

I’ve used this approach recently and have been very successful in achieving my stated goal. I encourage you to try it, too.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at https://wholeperson.com/x-selfhelp/selfhelp.html#Anchor-Let-11481.

Getting Organized & Getting it Done

Getting Organized

The first part of Valuing Skills is understanding what you value. To do this, you’ll need to do one thing first; relax for a bit! Sit down for five minutes at the office, find a quiet place in your home, or even lock yourself in the bathroom for a minute. Just take deep breaths and let go of some tension. Let your mind stop spinning for a bit so you can think clearly. Once you’ve done this, organize your thoughts. Lists are helpful; you can try making a list of all the things in your life right now that you enjoy. Family? Job? Book club? Pet? What are some things in your life you could do without? Mowing the lawn? Feeling panicked? Not spending enough time with someone special? Think about a typical week. How much time do you spend working or traveling? Sleeping? Playing? Relaxing? What kind of things do you do most? Does it match with your values? If not, that probably causes you stress.

Next, pick a value to set attainable goals around. Where do you want to be in a year? One month? How are you going to make this happen? Use some planning skills strategies; try to make a specific goal for this week, and connect it with others that work towards your long-term goal. Then get started! Break down big tasks into smaller ones, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • Do you usually meet your goals? Why or why not?


Getting it Done

Now that you’ve calmed down and thought about what you want, it’s time to make a plan. If you don’t commit to taking your plans into action, you’ll find yourself stressing again soon. It’s tempting to try to keep all your options open, but juggling multiple tasks results in dropping all of them. Pick one! Commit to making a good change.

Next, think about Time-Use Skills. What sort of things do you do that waste time? We all have tasks we can streamline. One common time-wasting habit is jumping from task to task without finishing them first. It’s more efficient to finish one then move to another. A second time waster is accepting nothing but perfection. This isn’t to say you should accept bad work, but recognize good work when you see it. Nothing is ever perfect. Another common time waster is putting off starting because you don’t know where to begin. Easy solution for that; start with the biggest and work your way down.

Last, don’t forget Pacing! Here’s an analogy: you’re on a timed run. You have 30 minutes to run as far as you can. If you sprint at the start, you will be exhausted in 5 minutes and trudge the next 25. You won’t get very far. If you go at a good pace, you will save yourself a lot of pain, and get much farther. You can tell when a pace is right for you; you feel challenged, not overwhelmed.

Your Goals and Your Stress

Kicking Your Stress Habits

Goals help you decide how to use your time and energy. They are motivators for long or short term plans. Some goals are concrete; get a degree, clean the refrigerator, get an oil change. Others aren’t as clear cut; be a good friend, increase self-esteem, be happy. You may feel distress if you don’t spend time on the goals that matter to you. Maybe you want to get a degree, but you feel trapped by your full time job. Your goal of getting your degree is making you feel pinched at work and panicked that you’ll never have time.

Having conflicting goals, or too many a once can also cause distress. If you are unsure of what your goals are, you will drift from one meaningless task to the next. A vague uneasiness is associated with a lack of goals, rather like that nagging feel when you think you’ve forgotten something.

Do you have too many goals? Too few? You may be comfortable with one goal to work consistently on, or you may prefer to have as many goals as hours in a day. We all have to figure out exactly what number of goals we each individually feel good about committing to; everyone is different.

  • What kind of goals do you have?
  • What kind of goals would you like to have?
  • Is this a good amount for you?

Kicking Your Holiday Stress Habits