2016 and your goals
So, February is fast approaching, how have you got on with your new year´s resolutions? Today´s blog is focussed on helping you achieve your goals. Have you ever wondered what´s the difference between a dream and a goal? It´s all in the plan! We all have dreams we are chasing and dreams do come true of course, but, we are much more likely to achieve our dreams if we see them as goals. And goals need plans.
Susan Michie and colleagues have collated a list of evidenced based techniques that can be used by health professionals to help individuals achieve their goals. In their taxonomy of 2003 they identified 93 different techniques – so there´s something for everyone! One strategy that can be easily implemented is “Goal setting and Action Planning”.
Goal setting sounds simple, but in reality people often skip the planning stage – and that´s the crucial bit. Imagine we want to lose 4 kilos in weight. We set the goal and time frame, 8 kilos in 4 weeks, 2 kilos a month. Simple, off we go! But how often does that work?
First of all, we are more likely to achieve positive goals than negative ones, so saying “I will lose 8 kilos,” would be better phrased as, “I will reach my target weight”. It’s a subtle difference but one that has shown positive effects in influencing behaviours such as stopping smoking, weight loss and increasing exercise.
Secondly, goal setting involves making a commitment and there is evidence that verbalising that commitment enhances the likelihood of success. One study showed that when people made statements about their commitment to change behaviour that increased in intensity throughout the therapy, improvements in treatment outcome were observed. Importantly the authors found that when people came into therapy stating vague commitments such as “I might” make changes, which later they revised to “I will” make changes, the increased commitment was associated with better success. So if we want something we need to make “an affirmation”. Saying out loud, to yourself or to others “I will achieve my target weight,” “I will exercise three times a week,” “I will be a non-smoker,” will help us believe that we can make the change and improve our chances of doing so.
But just saying it out loud won´t make it happen either. We need to plan! Action planning addresses the when, how, where and why of the behaviour. “If – then plans” are a helpful way of thinking about action planning. For example, someone who dreams of being a non-smoker, but has difficulty not smoking when at social events, might commit to “If (I am in a social place and want a cigarette) then (I will use nicotine gum instead). In this way the plan helps trigger the desired behaviour.
If – then plans can also be used to help overcome obstacles and barriers. Behaviour change is a process, achieving your goal should be seen as a journey. And in all journeys there will be obstacles. If – then plans help provide a pathway back to the desired behaviour after a problem. If (I fail to stick to my diet plan) then (I will revise my motivations). Or to put it another way, “It´s a lapse – not a collapse!”
We all have the skills within us to achieve our dreams, Goal setting and Action Planning is one tool in our box of tricks, so why not give it a go. Set your goal and shout it out loud.
Please do feel free to give me a call or drop an email if you want any help achieving your goals this year.
Rachel Garrod Ph.D. Respiratory Physiotherapist and stop smoking counsellor
The contents of the above is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for specific advice or legal advice on a particular matter. This blog is provided by a third party, [Rachel Garrod], and therefore we accept no liability for the above content or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of any such information.