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 The “Which” of Goal Setting

Last week I talked about planning to acquire resources you need to complete your goal.  Equally important is discussing which obstacles that you may run into along the way to successful achievement of said goal.

When you try anything new, the biggest obstacle to your own achievement is ….well…uhm…er…YOU.  Let’s start there.  You are the person trying to integrate a new behavior change into your routine.  Your own brain, however, is wired against your attempts to change anything.  When we do something repeatedly, it becomes a habit (like eating whatever you want whenever you want and not caring about the choice involved). Over time, your brain develops a “memory” of that behavior habit and when you try to change it or alter it in any way, your brain fights that.  You may be successful a time or two, but then the old habit starts winning over the new one and you’re right back where you started.

To break an old habit, you need to repeat the new pattern many times over.  Eventually, the old “memory” that’s associated with that old behavior habit will be overwritten by the new memory that you’ve now associated with the new behavior habit.  It’s a lot more scientific than I’m getting here, but for purposes of this blog – let’s try to keep it simple.  I think it’s important that  I address the fact that this is going on in any attempt to change an existing behavior to something new.  When you address that it’s just “not in your makeup,” you’re not giving yourself an excuse to fail, but rather you’re giving yourself greater power to succeed in spite of that challenge.  As a side note here, exercise actually helps you in this entire process – whatever the new behavior habit is that you’re trying to implement, exercising helps your brain in building the new “memory” that’s associated with it through something called neurogenesis.

There are other obstacles that you may run into along the way to reaching this new goal. It’s important that you look at your past performance to determine if there is anything there to give you a clue to what you may face again that could derail you. What has happened in the past that’s kept you from being successful in reaching goals?  How did you handle it?  Were you effective in dealing with that particular obstacle(s)?  What didn’t work in your effort to overcome it?  How might you approach this obstacle(s) differently this time with a more successful outcome?

It’s always helpful to run the idea of potential obstacles past other people who know you and support your efforts to reach your goals. You might be surprised to hear what others see in and around you that you may have missed.  Once you’ve identified the things that can (and have) pull you off course, work out strategies to deal with them should they happen.  Everyone is better with a plan.  It’s typically the unexpected thing that arises – the thing we didn’t think about  and have no plan on how to deal with – that keeps us from staying on the forward track to achieve our goals.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.  Essentially, this is the process of “risk planning/management,” for the goal seeker.

Next Week:  The “What-If” of Goal Setting