Happy New Year! Are you like so many people who have decided to make a few New Year’s resolutions? Or, have you sworn off resolutions because by the time February hits you have given up on them? Here are some suggestions for setting goals this year that might help you succeed:
1. Define the goal: What do you want to change? Is this a feeling that you don’t like such as anxiety, or is it something that you want to do? What do you want to feel, think or do more of in 2013? What do you want to do less of?
2. Impact: How does this issue affect your life at school, being with friends, going on trips, or at home? How do you feel about yourself when this happens? What would be different in your life if you met your goal?
3. Barriers: What might get in the way of reaching your goals? What things might make it difficult to find solutions? What have you tried in the past that has not worked? What are some things that have helped in the past?
4. Strengths: What skills do you have that could help you reach your goal? Who can support or coach you?
5. Signs: What would be some signs that you are feeling better? How will you know if you are achieving your goals? Who might be the first to notice the change in you? What are some of the pro’s of making this change? What are the con’s?
For example, I am working with a 9 year old client who would like to get over her fear of dogs. This impacts her life in many ways. When she wants to go sell Girl Scout cookies she can only go to the houses she knows that don’t have dogs. She also won’t go over to friends houses if they own dogs. For Halloween she didn’t even want to go Trick or Treating for fear she would go to a house that had a dog. In the past she has tried going up to dogs, having her parents go up to the dog first and even bought her own dog. These situations were too intense and not successful. Some of the skills she has are her strong motivation to change as well as her love of animals. She also has the support of her parents and some wonderful friends that want to see her succeed. Some signs she will notice that she is getting better are her ability to say hello to the neighbors dog, meet her friends new dog, and pet other dogs without avoidance. Her parents would be some of the first to notice the change in her. If she succeeds in reaching her goal, she will be able to go most anywhere without being afraid a dog might be there. She will have more play dates, have fun selling Girl Scout Cookies, and enjoy Halloween this year.
In the above example, I worked with the client to establish an exposure hierarchy. This is when a person breaks down the goal into small pieces and gives a number to indicate how comfortable they would feel doing the action. For example, looking outside at the neighbors dog might be a 1 out of 10, with 10 being the scariest feeling. Playing in the backyard with the dog might be a 10. Once we have this list we can set the goal of accomplishing all tasks that are less than 5 on our scale by the end of February.
Remember, goals should be SMART :
- Action Plan
- Time frame
Good luck and all the best for a wonderful 2013!