Setting Successful Goals

by Shelly Burke


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If you're like many of us, you started the year determined to lose weight, get out of debt, and not nag your spouse so much. If you're like most people who set goals, you did so with the best of intentions, but by now, just a few months into the new year, you've given up on working towards these goals.

If you're like more and more people, you're not bothering to set goals anymore. I've spoken at two conventions this year, and few people even set goals; they said they grew discouraged with consistently and excitedly setting goals in years past just to abandon or give up on those goals a few weeks later.

It's never to late to set goals! In fact, this is the perfect time to do so, just as we're beginning to get ready for spring. Setting goals gives you a way to work toward and measure your accomplishments. Do it right, and you'll reach your goals. Follow these guidelines.

To be effective, goals must be:

  1. Measurable - We've all made goals like "I'll exercise more" or "I'll do more around the house." However, it is impossible to measure "more" so you can't tell if you've met this goal or not.

    On the other hand, you can measure "I'll walk around the block every day" or "I'll wipe down the kitchen counters on Monday and dust the office on Tuesday."

  2. Attainable/realistic - Set your goals according to what you can accomplish, not what you think you should accomplish, or what "other people" do. If you do not enjoy jogging, do not make that an exercise goal, even if your best friend loves to jog. You're just setting yourself up for failure as you'll dread every day you're supposed to jog.

  3. For you - Only you can work toward your goals. Do not make goals such as "My husband will lose 20 lbs." or "My daughter will get straight A's on her report card." Your husband and daughter are the only ones who can accomplish those goals! You can make goals for yourself that will ultimately help them like "I'll ask my husband to walk with me every evening" or "I'll check my daughter's homework every night."

How to Set Your Goals

  1. Write them down. When you write down your goals, it makes them "real" and shows your commitment to working toward them. You might be motivated by recording goals in a fancy notebook, or you might just want to jot them down on sticky notes and put them on your mirror. Do what works for you!

  2. Document your results. Keep track of your progress. Put a star on your calendar the days you exercise, keep a journal recording the books you've read, make a list of the new recipes you've tried. Now you have visible evidence that you're accomplishing something!

  3. Make intermediate goals. If you have a big goal, you'll need smaller intermediate goals. A goal stating "I will clean the whole house, basement to attic, including the closets, by the end of the year" is overwhelming without smaller, intermediate goals. You might make a goal to clean the basement in January, one bedroom a week in February, and one closet a week in March.

  4. Evaluate your goals. Evaluate each goal about a month after you make it. At that time, you'll have met it (congratulations!) or need to re-evaluate it. If you've made a weekly cleaning plan, are you able to get the scheduled tasks done every day? If so, great! Make this schedule a permanent part of your life. But if you find you're too tired by Friday to get that day's jobs done, either take a day off during the week or break your jobs down into smaller chunks. Re-evaluate your new goal in another month or so.

  5. Give yourself rewards! (This is the fun part!) Along with the satisfaction of reaching your goals, rewards will motivate you. For me, a great reward is taking a warm bath while reading a new novel. You might choose a movie with a friend, working in your garden, or taking a walk.

Don't be intimidated by all of these guidelines and steps to making goals. It just takes a few minutes to follow the steps, and assures your success in doing so. The process is vital to setting and reaching goals, and easy if you follow these steps. This time, you're going to reach those previously elusive goals!


Shelly Burke, RN, is the author of Home is Where the Mom Is. Home is Where the Mom Is is the most comprehensive resource for all moms, especially at-home moms. The above article is an excerpt from Home is Where the Mom Is. Shelly believes moms need to care for themselves, first, so they can better care for those around them. Shelly's next book, What Should I Say? is also available.

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