Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Setting Goals

Setting & achieving goals ..... how do you approach it?

I've had a few people mention recently that I'm pretty successful at reaching the goals I set.  It got me thinking a bit.  Yes, I have been pretty successful, but I think it's more about the way I approach SETTING my goals.

Personally I think there are a few ways to set goals:

1) LOW & EASILY ACHIEVABLE - You set your goals for the bare minimum.  Something you absolutely know you can achieve without too much effort.  For some people this keeps the pressure low and they feel successful, which may lead to them reaching further than they thought they could - thus achieving way more than their original goal.

2) HAPPY MEDIUM - You set your goals for something that seems a little outside of comfortable and definitely a challenge, but that you are pretty confident you can achieve with effort.  The pressure isn't too high, it isn't overwhelming, but in order to reach the goal you have to stay focused and determined or it will slip away from you.

3) HIGH & CHALLENGING - You set your goals super high, maybe even higher than is even possible.  This puts a ton of pressure on you, but maybe that drives you.  Perhaps you feel that by aiming way up high, even if you don't achieve the goal you originally set, you achieve more than someone who sets a more moderate goal. 

My husband believes in setting his goals VERY high, almost unattainable.  His reasoning is that if he sets them super high and doesn't quite achieve them that he achieves more than if he were to set his goals too low.  This has worked quite well for him.  But he has a very different personality than me.  He accepts the (perceived) failure of not quite reaching his goals with the knowledge that he has still achieved more than most people ever would have aimed for.  For example, while someone may aim to lose 2 lbs in a month and lose just those 2 lbs (thus success in reaching their goal) ... he would aim to lose 20 lbs and end up losing 12.  Did he reach his goal?  Nope, not even close.  But he still got a lot further than the person who only aimed for 2lbs.  This method works well for him, not so much for me.

Personally .... I rarely will set a goal unless I firmly believe I can achieve it. I'm the type that goes for the Happy Medium. I sit and think "hmmmm, what can I realistically do". I am uncomfortable with failure, so to set my goals super high would be a dangerous slope. I would feel defeated or frustrated and likely give up. But, I also know that if I set my goals on the low side, I would sit back and just achieve that bare minimum - never challenging myself. Like I said the other day, I'm way too stubborn to not meet my goals, so I know that by setting them just a bit out of reach I will work hard to get there.

I also try to set goals that are within my control.  For the most part ...
  • I CAN control how many miles I run, how often I exercise. 
  • I CAN control keeping a food journal. 
  • I CAN control how often I eat out, order in, or eat junk food. 

However ... I CAN NOT control the scale or the measuring tape.  We all know there are times when you can do everything 100% right and your body will not do what is expected.  Therefore, it is rare that I will set concrete weight/measurement goals.  Yes, I set them in the sense of having an idea of where I want to be and when, but I'm realistic in knowing that the stars may not align just because I set a goal. 

I also know I CAN NOT (realistically) preplan every single meal and expect to follow it 100%.  I do try to do a fair amount of preplanning but there is always wiggle room.  What if the tomatoes you had planned are suddenly in a shortage situation from suppliers?  Or they're all rotten at the store?  Sure you can try another store, but I'd much rather allow for adjustments where necessary.  Plus, what if I had planned roast chicken for Thursday night and come Thursday night the thought of eating that makes me gag.  Should I still go ahead???  Yeah, not me!

So .... what type of goal setter are you? 

Each method has it's advantages and disadvantages.  Everyone will have something that works better for them.  No method is outright wrong or right.  You just have to find which one suits you best.



Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

Hi Heidi!

I'm one of those crazy people who is never satisfied when they reach their goal...and it bugs the crap out of me! I am working on this, BTW...

I need to be more like you!

Anonymous said...

I think I am more of a happy medium goal person. I like to think big, but not unrealistically. I think it's good to set goals that are going to make you have to work for them, then you really appreciate the hard work that is put in. I love your attitude towards setting and achieving goals.

Angela said...

I'm definitely a happy medium person. I like to push myself hard, but I'm also firmly aware of my limitations. For example, if I'm setting a mileage goal for the week, it's just my personality to challenge myself, but I also take into account my work and personal obligations and come up with a number that I can meet if I don't slack off.

Syl said...

I don't like to set up goals that are not acheivable because then I feel like I have failed.

kimert said...

I use to set my goals as long term but have felt like such a failure if I don't reach them by the "date" I chose. So, recently I began setting lower/short term goals and it has proven to be much more successful. I also don't get as burnt out or feel like quitting.

Lynsey said...

I always bomb at my goals so I'm trying to set them a different way this month.

Oh, and go here, http://www.athlinks.com/results/89522/125644/f2/Avera-Race-Against-Breast-Cancer-2009.aspx

This is why I'm scared. I'll be so close to the end it's not funny. But yes, I will be fine. You are so right!

Teamarcia said...

I wonder if this is male/female thing because my hubby is the same as yours. He encourages outrageously lofty goals that I think/know are pretty much unattainable. I continually raise the bar but in more of an incremental fashion.

Cammy said...

Awesome post, Heidi!

I actually use all three of these methods, for different sets of goals. There's definitely value in all of them.

Heather said...

Great post. I am trying to be better about setting realistic goals, because I tend to go for the unattainable . . . :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post!

I am between a medium and high goal setter...when I aim too high, too consistently, I pretty often crash and burn, so I am learning how to aim for the medium. :)

Marcelle said...

I'm a terrible goal setter...I have learned living with myself for all these years that most goals I set I never achieve, so now set small goals - daily or weekly ones. More than that I cant do...used to when teaching set goals but now find I'm just being....in the moment.

Julie said...

Hmm, I think that I set goals that are within reason. I am hoping to run a 1:45 to 1:50 half marathon. If I continue to train and shave time off of my runs I should be able to succeed. It is possible that maybe I will only get a little faster...I don't know but time will tell:) As long as I enjoy running and continue to be happy...that is what is really important. Have a good one Heidi!

Marcelle said...

Good Thursday morning to you...
Woke up to your comment and question on my blog ...so here goes.

This is a famous Rathaus in a little town called Alsfeld.
Its a famous building so can imagine that your MIL might have a painting of this.
Alsfeld is the next town to where I live in Lauterbach - the town my gynie is in and where my hubby works.
Let me know about the painting will be interesting to know.