As one year ends and another begins, you might be considering how the new year will be different than the last. You might know exactly what you want to accomplish in the new year, but have no idea how to get there. Or maybe you know that you want change but you’re not sure exactly what you want to accomplish. Finding answers to all of these possibilities is where incorporating healthy goal-setting techniques can be helpful.

At Skyterra, guests set goals for themselves before they leave our campus. Those who are successful at incorporating those new goals into their lives use the following four tips:

Tip 1: Remember why goal setting works

Goal setting is important because it allows you to utilize your strengths and skills to grow your abilities.

  • Direction: Goals work because they give you direction. In action, direction helps you focus your attention on tasks that are relevant to achieving the goal. You will spend less time wasting energy on tasks that do not contribute to your goal.
  • Energized performance: Goals work because they energize performance. In action, your effort level will match the task difficulty, encouraging endurance to see the goal through to completion.
  • Persistence: Goals work because they motivate persistence. In action, you will persist through challenges and difficulties because you are motivated by the goal.

Tip 2: Think about these key principles of successful goal setting

According to Positive Psychology, research into goal setting resulted in the suggestion of the following five key principles for successful goal achievement. When combined, the principles lead to better outcomes for specific goals.

  • Commitment: Goal performance is the strongest when people are attached to the goal and are determined to reach it (even when faced with obstacles). If you are highly committed to reaching a goal, you will likely increase your effort or adjust your strategy in order to achieve the goal. If you are less committed to reaching a goal, especially more challenging goals, you are more likely to give up.
  • Clarity: More specific and clearly defined goals are easier to achieve than vague goals. When a goal is clear in your mind, you have a better understanding of what is required to be successful and are also more likely to be motivated.
  • Challenging: Goals should be challenging yet attainable. If you set a goal that you are not able to achieve, you will be dissatisfied and frustrated. If you set a goal that is challenging yet attainable, the anticipation of achievement will motivate you to succeed. 
  • Task Complexity: Overly complex goals can be overwhelming and negatively impact motivation. Allowing enough time to work toward a goal will give you flexibility to reassess the goal complexity as needed.
  • Feedback: Goal setting is more effective when you can know how you are progressing towards being successful. Feedback will allow you to reflect and set new, more attainable goals if necessary. If there is no feedback, you are less likely to be successful because you do not have a way to measure your progress. When feedback is positive, you will feel more motivated and confident in setting future goals.

Tip 3: Set goals in positive terms

Thinking positively about the future boosts our ability to create goals and follow through with the actions necessary to achieve them. Reframe negative goals (I want to stop eating so much junk food) into more positive terms (I want to feel healthy and will change my diet in order to do so). Negative connotations lead to self-criticism and are not a source of motivation. 

Tip 4: Practice important goal setting skills

There are several skills that are required for successful goal setting and achievement. Through practice, they can be learned and developed then applied to your individual goals.

  • Planning: Proper planning affects performance
  • Self-motivation: Without the desire to achieve a goal, you will not develop the techniques and skills in order to succeed. Motivation to persist is key to goal attainment.
  • Time management: Allocating the appropriate amount of time to planning, performing, reviewing and reassessing a goal means that you are more likely to succeed
  • Flexibility: Things usually do not go as planned. Having flexibility means adapting to difficulty so that you can persevere through adversity to reach your goal. 
  • Self-regulation: Regulating and managing your emotions in order to properly consider your goals is key to determining how to achieve them. Developing emotional intelligence helps with self-regulation.
  • Commitment and focus: It is important to be committed to your goal on a personal level and to know that you are capable of successfully meeting the goal. At the least, you must know that you can make substantial progress towards the goal.

As you begin to think about what 2021 will hold, we wish you success at reaching your desired goals. For more information, tune in to Skyterra’s Inspired Intentions podcast for the entire month of February for our four-part series on habits!