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.