The problem with goal setting

It’s good to have goals, but you need a plan to reach them

By Dr. Matthew Lapp, Columnist, The Times

CTColLogoMattLappIf you are like many people, the beginning of a new year brings a clean slate that allows for new goals, resolutions, and opportunities.  For others, the new year brings a reminder of the resolutions we made in years past that have yet to be resolved, goals that have been king forgotten, or opportunities we feel we missed out on.

Whether you are still resolving last year’s goals or you have already begun to stray away from this year’s resolutions, there is still time to create opportunities that will allow you to feel successful and fulfill your commitment to a new you in this new year.

If you are still trying to figure out what went ‘wrong’ with last year’s resolution, there’s no need to beat yourself up!  We must first realize that there are some inherent challenges with the way many of us set out to achieve our well-meaning resolutions and goals.

All too often we set goals that are too difficult, too easy, too general, or even one’s that we have no vested interest in ever achieving.  In all of these situations we are left feeling like failures and promptly reinstate our previous self-limiting beliefs that lead us to wanting to make a change in the first place.

According to the website, some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, quit smoking, save money, and exercise more.  Although these are all commendable intentions, they are too general and non-specific to actually be helpful.  For example, how does someone know if their goal to “save more” was met?  Was fifty dollars sufficient in the savings account or was it $5,000 what they intended for? In both cases that person saved, but if they had intended for $5,000, then fifty dollars may not be perceived as a success.

In addition to getting more clear and detailed with our goals, it is also important to recognize and be willing to embrace the lifestyle changes that are necessary to achieve them.  That is why creating a plan of action to attain goals most often leads to measurable and achievable outcomes.

The most important factor is goal setting is to create goals that are challenging, achievable, and measurable and then consistently check in with your progress.  In addition, you shouldn’t make a goal unless your are passionate about the outcome you’re seeking.  It can be helpful to reframe the language you use as well because doing so may help you to recognize the ‘why’ behind your goal.  For example, instead of trying to lose weight, maybe you’d like to gain fitness in order to feel healthy, strong and confident.  Or, rather than quit smoking, you’d like to engage in quiet meditation and deep breathing to help you relax and calm your mind.

Here’s a few steps to get there.

1. To start, create a long-term (1 year or longer) goal and work backwards.

For example, ‘by the end of the year I would like to… (be as detailed as possible)”

2.  Create several short-term (3-6 months) goals that are congruent with your long-term goal i.e. “In 3 months I’ll be down to one pack of cigarettes a day, in 6 months, half a pack…”

3.  Create habits (monthly, weekly, daily) that lead you to the type of person, behaviors, attitudes that you want to create i.e. “I’m going to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.”

In addition to making specific goals, this is a great time of year to do a thorough check in with your all around level of wellbeing and happiness in different areas of your life, as well as celebrate all that you achieved since last year.  For more discussion on how to do that, read What is Wellness.

By applying these guidelines, you will not only be able to set achievable goals, but also to keep them and to create sustainable lifestyle habits that will inevitably allow you to grow and prosper in 2014 and beyond.

Drs. Allison and Matthew Lapp are the owners of Salus Chiropractic Studio in Thorndale. For more tips on living a health, happy life, visit them on Facebook at

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