Tuesday, January 3, 2012

With Goals, It's Not What, But How

     New Year’s resolutions are a well-established tradition for millions of us. And, why not? It’s a fine time for an annual review of achievements and aspirations. If you’d like to increase your odds of turning this year’s aspirations into next year’s achievements, take a look at HOW you state your goals.
     “Action goals energize us, results goals worry us,” advised sports psychologist Shane Murphy, when I interviewed him for The Spirited Walker. HOW you set a goal can be more important than WHAT you set. Action goals provide stepping stones that lead you to results, says Murphy. Without them, the path to achieving what you want is vague. It’s easy to veer off course.

 Goals that Energize 

    Here’s an example of a results goal: In 2012, I will get fit.
    Here’s an action goal: In 2012, I will exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes five days a week. The action goal offers clear steps that you can measure and will lead to increased fitness. 
    Another Results Goal: In 2012, I will be less cranky and more cheerful.
    Action Goal: In 2012, I will write at least two things a day that I appreciate in a gratitude notebook.
    Do you see the difference? An action goal gives you a plan. A results goal by-passes the HOW and leaves you without a clear route to success. Both pieces are essential for an effective map.

England's Coast to Coast Hike
    Now, here's a goal that’s personal: 
     Result goal:  This year I will successfully complete a 12-day, 130-mile walk across England. (Really! I'm making plans for August!)
    The action goal that will help me succeed: In 2012, I will hike Mt Pisgah four times a month. Mt Pisgah is 1.8 miles of uphill climb in a nearby park. With a pause at the top for water and the view. roundtrip takes me a little over an hour and provides both a workout for the body and renewal for the soul. These hikes, along with my routine exercise program, will help me rebuild strength and stamina after the setback of a broken arm in November. Without the action goal, the result I seek is unlikely. 
Make More than a Passing Nod 
    Make your resolutions more than a passing nod at things you want either to give up or to get hold of in the coming year. Strengthen clarity and commitment, by writing your goals down. Then, look at them carefully to confirm that you are identifying both the What and the How with action steps that lead to the results you seek.
    Both The Spirited Walker and Healing Walks for Hard Times include encouragement and practical guidelines for goal setting. Check the index in either book. Sign up for email alerts about new blog posts for help in sustaining commitment and action.

1 comment:

  1. A great reminder Carolyn, thanks. I am sending this off to a couple folks I know who have lots of WHATS on their list of New Year resolutions, but probably have not thought about the HOWS.... !


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