This is a continuation of the previous column…
Today we are going to look at the other level of goal making, the general life/mental health level.
General Life/Mental Health Level: Plenty of evidence exists showing a correlation between depression and a lack of goals. However, unrealistic goals can be just as off-putting as having none at all. As established in the last column, the biggest problem is that many people say they want to do something but have no idea how to get there. Whereas last time we looked at the specifics of health related goal setting, today’s focus is more generalized and may be applied to health as well as other aspects of your life.
First and foremost, set realistic expectations. If you aren’t sure if something you want to do is set in an achievable time-frame, do some research on the subject or ask an expert in that area. If your goal is weight loss, for instance, speaking with a registered dietician or certified fitness trainer will help you make realistic plans and minimize unrealistic expectations. There is no point if having a goal if you make it an impossible one.
Next, perform a self assessment of where you are now. Then look at where it is you want to reach (your goals). Your Intrepid Pharmacist divides his goal areas up into four categories that represent various aspects of his life:
- Professional (things he wants to accomplish this year where his career or his field of expertise are concerned),
- Financial (things he wants to accomplish this year in terms of savings, debt payoff, stocks, new major purchases, etc.),
- Personal (goals this year related to health, fitness, family, etc.) and
- Creative (goals this year relating to writing, designing, and artistic endeavors).
These four general categories work well for him, but you may find others work better for you.
Once you have these areas addressed, look at how you will measure progress along the way. Set some benchmarks for reaching certain points along the way. If you goal, for instance, is to write a short story, set personal deadline dates for outlining the story, writing the first draft, revising the draft and writing the final draft. Such “finish by” dates may need to be flexible based on what else is going on in your life. Then you can turn attention to a new goal of achieving publication.
Be prepared to be flexible with your deadlines and your goals, though. You are not opening an amusement park ride or building an office building and you never know what opportunities and roadblocks life may send your way over the coming 12 months. When he wrote his goals for 2009, your Intrepid Pharmacist had no idea that in the middle of the year aerochug.com would appear in his life. So, he readjusted his goals and went from there. That is an adjustment for unforeseen opportunity, but adjustments may need to be made for goals you are not having success with.
Likewise, his goal of traveling to two places that were not Florida (his home state) or North Carolina (his pharmacy school state) wound up being met in the most unusual of ways, both which involved the pharmacy profession. And he still found time to visit his usual stomping grounds. The goal is repeated again for this year. Why such an odd-sounding goal? To ensure he is forced to go new places and try new things rather than take the easy route and settle into just going back the tried and true territories.
Those are success stories. One goal your Intrepid Pharmacist failed at miserably during 2009 was consistently lifting at the gym, as was his habit, being he is part gym rat. The failure was caused by a combination of a long distance drive to his new (as of 11/08) work location well outside the city and coupled with his company’s unexpected (and awful) alteration of his pharmacy’s operating hours on March 1. Your Intrepid Pharmacist assessed the situation and opted to leave his distant work location in favor of a nearer one and with saner operating hours. The result: he is now back in the gym on a regular schedule again (and is very sore!).
And remember, your goals should be motivated by your desire to improve at something or to try something new, things about which you are passionate. If they start becoming a chore you dread chances are you are doing something wrong and need to reassess your program. That is not to say goals should be easily attainable, but they should not be impossible, either.
To recap the two New Year’s Resolution columns:
- New Year’s Resolutions, (aka setting goals) are important, but having specific goals is essential if one is to be successful.
- Divide your goals up under some general headings that represent various aspects of your life.
- Make realistic goals.
- Talk to experts or do research to learn if your goal is achievable in the time you allotted.
- Set benchmark deadlines along the way to keep you on track.
- Be prepared to alter your goals or your habits in the face of opportunities and roadblocks.
Best of luck to you in 2010!