“The outcome will only be as good as the quality of the goals we set.”
Health Psychology has lots to say about how to set achievable goals! Let’s face it, setting goals is tricky, especially when we create benchmarks too far down the road. That’s why we brought all our best folks together to build the following six step workflow with sustainability in mind. We draw from influential work published by Andrea Drugay and Evernote, sure to enrich your journey for the coming months.
Kickstarting Your Future
The Holidays are an exciting time of year. As November and December approach, I start to pensively ponder potential achievements for the upcoming year. I’m not talking about New Years resolutions, which in fact I find completely soul sucking, not to mention an absolute waste of time. I’m talking about effective goal setting.
In a previous article on SMART goal setting, we discussed how to nail down the specifics of therapeutically oriented goals. (If you are a member, we also sent you a SMART roadmap). However, what if you wanted to set broad goals for an entire year?
The Finding My Psych team came together and created an easy to follow six step process. To do this, we conceptualized goal setting as a funnel, moving through each step starting from creative road mapping, to specific measurable outcomes.
Step 1 – Build An Overview (The Andrea Drugay R&P Method)
If you are a consumer of articles on Medium, you have certainly ran into work written by Andrea Drugay, UX Writing Manager for Dropbox. In her most recent article, “Supercharge Your Life in the New Year with these 20 Lists,” Andrea proposes prompts designed to help you reflect on the prior year and plan with broad strokes.
This is an excellent starting place as you work from the top of your creative goal setting funnel. It is critical to engage the creative mind by thinking about how things have gone, and where you want to go.
We suggest that in order to complete this first critical step, you write out your response to each of Andrea’s 20 prompts. It will set the tone for the next five steps for mastering your goal setting journey.
Hint: If you are partial to journal writing, this is an excellent activity to do the night before the upcoming drill down in the remaining steps. It will allow for a deeper creative process as you walk along your path.
Step 2 – Document Broad Goals for the Year
Evernote is the most well known and widely used tool for the prolific note taker. In 2018, Evernote popularized several templates easily imported when creating a new note.
The next step in working through your personal goal setting journey, is to create general goal categories for the upcoming year. For example, you might want to decrease your credit card debt, add money to your savings account, or increase time walking outdoors each day. Then, without diving into excessive detail, map each as a goal month-to-month.
Hint: You never need to wait until the new year to engage in this process. Start at any point and carry your planning out for as many months you like, not bound by the calendar.
Step 3 – Build a 30 Day Quick Win (#everbetterchallenge)
It’s time to commit. We started by thinking in broad strokes with Drugay’s 20 inquisitive prompts. We then built an overview using categories for the upcoming year. Now, we focus the next 30 days on one specific goal.
Hint: When considering the next 30 days for the goal you want to nail, build your plan thinking about why you chose your gaol, and habits that have the potential to get in the way. Building awareness is key to dodging barriers.
Step 4 – Deep Dive with Evernote Habit Tracking
Data is your friend. For each day over the next month, check off that you completed an action towards your goal and what you did. For instance, if you committed to walking every day, record that you walked (check mark), the distance, and time. This will help you see your progress during the month.
Hint: The trick to great data is reliable data. Use your favourite activity tracker to record the specifics you are interested in.
Step 5 – Pull Together Your Support Network
Tough times are guaranteed. We think that anticipating setbacks before you start your journey will help you navigate challenges along the way.
When motivation wanes, you need to pull together your support network to provide both encouragement and accountability. Drawing from your community is essential.
Hint: There is power in numbers. Chip away at your goal every day with a partner. You will experience difficulties at different times along the way, providing an opportunity for encouragement when the other is down.
Step 6 – Reflect on Progress and Course Correct
As you progress through each week, reflect on your achievement. If you accomplished an activity each day towards your 30 day goal, spend time thinking about what happened that made it possible.
Next, consider a course correction if you found that the activity was too difficult to complete. It is possible that the daily activity you chose towards your goal was too lofty. If so, adjust your activity and/or overall goal to something more reasonable.
Hint: Dare to be average! Originally stated by Dr. David Burns (Feeling Good Handbook), eliminating perfectionism will decrease disappointment and shame. Any step you make towards completing your goal is monumental.
Evaluate Primary and Secondary Benefits of Your Achievement
You did it! You started your journey by thinking in broad terms about your previous and upcoming year. You followed this up by creating general goals with monthly benchmarks. Finally, using the Every Better 30 Day Challenge by Evernote, you took one of your goals and committed to a process ending in success. Be proud!
Finally, examine both the primary and secondary benefits of your achievement. The primary benefits, in the example of walking every day, resulted in improved health and potential weight loss. The secondary benefits were seen in increased self-efficacy, improved relationships with the individuals you walked with every day, and momentum for the next 30 day cycle.
Now that you have accomplished your first 30 days, you can either target the same 30 day category, or move onto the next. There are twelve months in the year, providing lots of time to focus on different goal categories throughout the year.
Keep going! You got this!