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​Seniors Matter(s): Setting goals!

April 5, 2023

Research shows that less than 10 per cent of folks who set a task/goal actually stick with it for more than a few months. Why? It’s because change is hard. We become comfortable and entrenched in our daily habits, whether bad or good.

Often change seems daunting and overwhelming. Similar to what I discussed before about downsizing your house, there are many effective strategies that you can implement to make change easier.

One of the best ways to get to your larger goals is to accomplish smaller goals first, building momentum.

Sometimes, your goal is too large, too time-consuming, too daunting. When you are overwhelmed with a task/goal, it is often because you have had no (or little) success. When you have a taste of success, it’s much easier for you to build on that and keep going.

The idea is, therefore, to lower the bar by breaking larger goals into smaller, more manageable chunks. You can then begin to raise the bar after hitting each successful milestone. You feel the change, and while the change continues to shrink, you continue to grow.

For example, I wanted to get started with an exercise program. I started right in bed by doing leg raises, holding them, sit-ups and breathing exercises. I started committing five minutes a day even though my overall goal is an hour a day. I’m now over 20 minutes/day and it is a lot easier to look at the one hour/day goal now.

This works for sleep, weight-loss, over-eating, drinking, biking walking. Regardless of what you choose, make it specific and measurable.

The more focused your goal, the more you will find yourself motivated to accomplish it. For example, if you wish to lose weight, pick a reasonable goal of five kilograms in four weeks. The overall goal of 20 kilograms is too large, and can add frustration over an unrealistic time frame.

Your goals must be measurable. As you write your goal, you need to ensure that it has built-in markers for what it would mean to achieve it. You should be able to break the goal down into specific milestones along the way in order to track your progress.

For example, exercise five minutes daily this week, eight minutes next week, 10 minutes the third week, etc. Your goals must be time-bound. The most successful goals are those with a sense of urgency. You need to time-key your goals with a deadline, frequency or a time trigger/per day/per week/per month, until the goal is reached and measurable in its success or need for modification.

You need to set relevant goals. Before you commit to your goals, you must review them and ensure that they are considering your life circumstances as well as your values. What you hope to achieve this year must be balanced with the reality of your circumstances.

If you’re putting energy toward a certain outcome, that outcome should move your greater objective forward. Establishing a deadline for your goal adds accountability. Without an established end, there’s no clear cue to begin working toward your goal. Setting time-based parameters is also a good metric to help measure your success.

The time frame of a reasonable length allows you to see an end to your goals, check their appropriateness, and modify for the next stage, as necessary.

Finally, the purpose of a goal is to affect change, and by moving in small measurable and rewarding units, you can change your habits permanently.

Clearly one hour a day exercise would be a daunting initial goal, but now being at at 20 minutes/day, it looks, and feels, a lot more attainable.

Any exercise you do is running laps on those stuck on the couch!

‘Till next time!

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