bballhoop*goaling = pondering over, setting, achieving, and generally working with GOALS.

Welcome to the first of three blog articles on effective goaling. Right in time for the looming new year's resolutions that you might be tempted to make, or indeed for any other goal you want to set yourself. This is an invitation for you to take some time for yourself to make your life better than it already is. Set a goal, organize the necessary steps and support, learn how to deal with setbacks and obstacles, and celebrate your outcome. May I suggest you subscribe to my posts' RSS feed (available in the top right-hand corner) and you'll receive a convenient notification when the next installment arrives. Make this your own personal coaching alert, your own private "How to plan for success in 2009"- online course.

Last week we talked about being thankful for what we've achieved this year, now it's time to set some goals for what's ahead. Whether you want to learn a language, lose some weight, start a business, get married, or become the mayor of your hometown, you won't know how to get there if you don't know where you're going. First thing: set your goal. In case you haven't heard of it yet, one way of making sure your goals won't turn into regrets is setting them up the SMART way.

S - specific. "I want to lose weight" is too vague for your brain to kick into gear and actually help you achieve it. "I want a BMI of 25" or "I want to fit into a size 10" is better, because you'll definitely know when you've reached that goal. Same with, "I want to be more balanced" or "I want to be happier". "I want to remain calm next time my boss yells at me" is more specific. Find a way to describe your goal in your own definite terms. These should be terms that feel right and that your subconscious or your values cannot argue with.

M - measurable. The weight-goal is an easy one to quantify, e.g. gain 10 pounds, or lose 5. If you can't put a number on your specific goal, the question to ask yourself is, "How or when will I know that I've achieved it? How would my friends or any outsiders know?"

A - attainable. "Aim for the moon, because even when you miss you'll be amongst stars." W. Clement Stone said that, and I agree. I also think that it's better for the self-esteem in the long run if a couple of your goals actually do come true. In part this plays into knowing yourself, your strengths, and your limitations. Even Superman has his kryptonite, so there's no need to feel bad about them, and by acknowledging your challenges you'll save yourself arguing with reality. If you're unsure of what your areas for improvement might be but really want to know, don't be afraid to ask your co-workers, friends, and family for feedback. It's only natural we have blind spots, so it will be easier for other people to notice something we may struggle with. For best chances of success, make your goals attainable in a way that makes use of your strengths while stretching your comfort-zone a little. You'll be all the prouder for reaching it if there's a challenge that's not too easy. The other part attainability plays into is regarding the involvement of other people. Can you alone make this goal a reality, or would somebody else have to change in order for you to reach it? I'm not saying you have to do it all on your own, of course you can involve people and other resources to help, as we'll discuss next week. But if your goal is "Have Adam propose by Christmas", you might get disappointed.

R - relevant. Take a moment to listen to your inner self-talk. Is there a "should" involved in your goal? "I should set up a regular cleaning schedule and do the dishes every night" sounds to me like that's really a goal someone else might have for you. In fact, that sounds alarmingly like my mother! ;-) I'm not saying you don't want to live in a clean and sanitary household, and if that's your goal, you will find a way to make it reality. But it's also ok to take as long as necessary to question the goals you have and identify which of them will actually serve to make your life better, and which would serve the purpose of getting somebody else off your case. And that is another set of goals that may be achieved in different ways. Another - in my opinion - interesting tangent that you may want to explore is what your goal's good intentions are. What are you ultimately hoping to improve or achieve? Could it be that the goal you are working on is really a placeholder for another, superficially hidden, purpose? Talk to your coach about underlying beliefs and cognitive restructuring, you may find out some pretty interesting stuff!

T - timely. Or time-boxed, or time-limited, whichever you prefer, as long as you put a deadline on it. "I'll travel to France" is a great goal that will remain a dream until you actually set in motion the chain of actions and events that will get you there. By when do you want to reach your goal? When will you take your first step? When will you call that person who can help you? Check back next week to see what to do if your time-line isn't working out. And again, this is where working on your goals with a coach comes in really handy, because they are the best accountability partners. Did you know that WeightWatchers members who go to meetings lose 30 % more weight on average than members who follow the program online? Your coaching appointments will do the same thing, they help keep you on the straight and narrow, and your coach will call you or send you emails and ask you how you've been getting along.

There are many ways to aid your goaling, e.g. you can write affirmations every night, make a wishing board, a scrapbook, even go all out and buy one of Jack Canfield's "dream big" products - the imagery will serve as motivation and reminders to keep your goal fresh in your mind. However, keeping reminders, looking at pictures, even knowing exactly and SMARTly what you want to achieve isn't going to get you there. Just like when you go on a road trip, you'll need a map to figure out how to get to your destination, plus actually get in the car and drive. Check back next week for more tips on how to do just that.

Til then, have a good time!

Thanks to Raycan for the free image!

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