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It’s that time of year where people everywhere are trying to set some goals for the coming year.
As a parent, there are usually two types of goals you’ll be setting for yourself. First, you’ll be setting goals that relate to you as a parent - being a better parent or helping your kids achieve something. Second, you’ll be setting goals that are more directed at yourself - either doing better at work, being more active, eating more healthy, or whatever the need is. Both goal types are very similar in nature, and they should be set the same way.
Some people choose not to set goals for themselves at the first of the year. That’s totally fine as long as you’re constantly striving to improve yourself, and you’re setting smaller goals throughout the year. In fact, that’s more ideal than trying to set a huge goal for the entire year. Setting goals on a quarterly basis is a much better way to achieve what you want as you’re constantly re-evaluating where you’re at.
The following suggestions apply whether you’re setting your goals for the year, or if you set them on a regular basis (we highly recommend a regular review). Setting goals should be used to better yourself in some way. Always improving is an important first step.
Set goals you can control
When you set a goal for yourself, it needs to be something you can control. Setting goals that are trying to force someone else to do something is going to end in disappointment and failure. While the goal you set for yourself may be able to help someone else be better, it shouldn’t be something they need to achieve. Having control of the outcomes of your goals allow you to actually be able to achieve them.
For example, let’s say that you want your child to start eating healthier. Don’t set your goal to be something like: My child will eat healthy food for every meal. That’s a setup for failure. Rather, set your goal as it relates to you: I will provide healthy meals for my child every day, and I will not give in to providing unhealthy alternatives. While the outcome may be the same, you’re focusing your goal on what you can control. You control what you provide to your child for meals, and what alternatives they are given. You can achieve or fail at this goal, regardless of what your child ends up doing.
Set measurable goals
One of the biggest problems when setting goals is making them too generic. A generic goal is one that is too hard to determine if it was achieved or not. By not being specific in your goals you’re more likely to not complete the goal, or you’ll be far less likely to achieve big things - you’ll do the minimum to achieve it.
Setting measurable goals will provide a way for you to achieve each goal. For example, if you want to begin working out, don’t set your goal as I will start working out. This goal is simply too generic. What does “start” mean in this case? If you work out a few times a month, did you succeed? Be as specific as you can: I will work out 3 days a week. Be even more specific if you know what you want to do: I will run 3 days a week.
The above goal can be accomplished, and you will know if you’ve met the goal or not. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to put a plan together in how to achieve your goal. You now know that you need to find 3 days a week that you’re going to work out. You can plan exactly what days, and exactly what time. You can determine what workout routine you’re going to complete.
Evaluate your goals regularly
The second most common mistake when setting goals that people fall into is that they don’t review those goals. If they do review them, it’s generally only at the beginning/end of the year. Looking at your goals once a year is a good way to miss meeting them - you’re very likely to forget your goals.
Quarterly reviews of your goals allow you to review exactly what you’re trying to achieve, and where you’re at in relation to your goal. It also allows you to modify your goal if you need. Changing your goals throughout the year will allow you to more readily have goals that are achievable.
An example of why this is important can easily be seen from 2020. If your goal was related to anything social, or outside of the home, it’s very likely that you were unable to achieve that goal. “I will go to the gym 3 days a week” is a goal that would have failed pretty miserably if you only reviewed it at the end of the year. Reviewing the goal regularly would allow you to determine if you met it for the first 3 months, and then modify it for the rest of the year to something that could be achieved.
Ideally, you’re not removing goals or making them much easier to achieve, but sometimes you may be unable to avoid it. If you have to modify a goal to be easier, it should be because you’ve found a complete blocker to your goal. Your goal is impossible to achieve for some reason that you can’t control. Medical conditions, changes in income, and other such circumstances may lead to the need to change your goals. By reviewing your goals regularly, you'll much quicker be able to accommodate your needs.
Set goals that you can achieve, that you can measure, and that you regularly review. Goals are a great way to achieve heights that you may not have previously thought possible. Set goals that will help you be the best version of yourself as a parent, and in your personal life.