How to Set a Goal that is Right for YOU

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In a previous post, Want to Reach Your Goals? Here’s How, I told you all about self-determination theory and discussed why it’s extremely important to set a goal and to know WHY you are choosing that goal.

I’ve been thinking about that post and I want to discuss how knowing and growing your WHY can help you to evaluate and reevaluate your goals. This will help you to set a goal that is right for you. First, a quick review. What I have learned from researching motivation is that:

People with a high sense of self-determination are more likely to stick with their goals and achieve them.

What is Self-Determination?

Self-determination is the power or ability to make a decision for oneself without influence from outside. Self-determination allows people to make their own choices and feel in control of their own lives. They know WHY they set goal and are working toward a goal. Processes that show up with self-determination and intrinsic motivation include interest, enjoyment, and inherent satisfaction.

Knowing and Growing Your Why After You Set a Goal

To develop self-determination and intrinsic motivation you need to know ‘Why’ you are working toward a goal. What I have been learning is that reflecting about why you are working toward a goal can also sometimes help you to realize that maybe your goal needs to be changed or erased completely.

This sounds crazy, but really, you need to give yourself permission to change your goals and not feel like a failure or a “bad” person if the goal is just not right for you.

Or maybe the goal or resolution is something you want to achieve, but your Why’s need to be adjusted. I’ll give personal examples in a bit, but first I want you to look at your own goals and Why’s.

It’s Time To Go Get Your Remember Why You Started Worksheet

Seriously, go get it. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, do it now! Enter your name and email address below to get the password to the Resource Library, which includes a PDF version of this worksheet.

Remember Why You Started

Now when looking at your Remember WHY You Started worksheet, think about Why you set a goal. Then answer the following questions:

  1. How will I feel when I reach this goal?
  2. Am I doing this for myself or for someone else?
  3. When I achieve this goal will I be happier? More fulfilled?
  4. Am I truly passionate about this goal?
  5. How will achieving this goal change my life?
  6. What do I want to learn?
  7. Is this how do I want to spend my time?
  8. Does the goal align with my values?

There are no right or wrong answers. Some questions may resonate with you and some may not. What I hope is that these questions help you decide: Is your goal or resolution still the right goal? If not, then give yourself permission to change your goals and resolutions. Seriously, if the goal is not right for you then make that goal sheet into a paper airplane and move on. Don’t give it more of your precious time and energy.

paper airplanes set a goal and let go if it's not right for you

Or maybe, you find that you set a goal and it’s right for you, but after thinking about these questions your Why’s change. That’s totally fine too. That’s what erasers are for. Or, print a new Remember Why You Started worksheet and start over. It’s important that you really think about this so that you have strong reasons Why you want this and Why you believe in your goal.

Once you feel that your goal is right for you and your WHY’s are right for you, then you have even more evidence that you should continue striving for your goal. Make sure to hang it up or post it somewhere where you will see it EVERY DAY. You may even want to take a picture of it and use it as your phone’s screensaver. Whatever works best for you.

create a visual reminder of your goals and dreams

Letting Go of a Goal

I want to share a couple of personal examples of this process. A goal (or resolution in this case) that I had was to follow a Ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has been shown to have many health benefits. I did all the research, of course, and followed a keto diet strictly for 6 months. I even started my own keto food business because I was convinced of its benefits.

My Why’s for sticking with the resolution of following this diet were (1) to lose weight; (2) to increase my energy; and (3) to increase mental clarity.

I followed the keto diet strictly and measured ketones to make sure that I was in ketosis. However, after 6 months I was still not experiencing any of the benefits that I had expected. I gave it 6 months because I did not want to give up on it. However, when I asked myself, “Am I feeling happier?”, “Is this changing my life?”, and “Is this how I want to spend my time?”, I had to answer ‘no’. I was actually feeling more lethargic and my thyroid numbers were getting worse, so I ended that resolution. Keto works for many, many people, but I have learned that everyBODY is different.

I do like learning about keto, different ways of eating, and nutrition in general, so I do still read about the diet so that I can share information with you. But, for me that resolution was over.


Adjusting My Goal and Why’s

The second example is a personal goal that I adjusted and grew my Why’s. My goal for many, many years was to lose X pounds. I say, X, because that number has changed several times. However, my goal was always something like, “I will lose X pounds by June 1st” or “I will fit into X size jeans in 3 months”. You get the idea, I’m sure. I struggle with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, so losing weight has never been easy.

My Why’s at the time were: (1) to feel better about myself; (2) to fit into my clothes and clothes that I would like to wear; (4) to be in the “normal” weight range, and (3) to have thinner thighs.

I won’t go into detail about how I was striving toward those goals in this post, but I’ll say that over the past 20 years I have tried most diet plans out there. I have counted calories, tracked macros, carb-cycled, fasted, completed “cleanses”, and took part in weekly weigh-ins. With all of this effort, I really never lost a significant amount of weight or met my “goal”.

When I asked myself the above questions, I knew that striving for this goal was not making me happier, was not a good use of my time, and was not changing my life for the better. One of my Why’s was to “feel better about myself”, but I began to realize that restriction and hating my body was really NOT the answer to feeling better about myself.

Not to say that if your goal is to lose weight that your goal is not good or valuable. If it’s your true goal and you can answer Yes to the above questions, then it is right for you.

My thought personally now is that the weight loss and dieting mentality has been such a huge waste of time and a drain on my physical and mental well-being. I have slowly come to realize that I need to focus on health for the sake of health. That is, eating well and exercising to stay fit and to be able to do things in life that I enjoy doing.

My New Goal and Why’s

My goal has changed to, “I will choose health”. It’s more of a resolution, but it guides my choices and intentions.

My Why’s are now: (1) to have a more capable body; (2) to be a role model for my daughter; (3) to have the energy to do all the things that I want in life; (4) to help manage my thyroid condition and prevent illness; and (5) to feel calm and centered.

I exercise to have a more capable body. To be MORE, not less. Click To Tweet

This has been a huge shift in mindset for me that definitely has not changed overnight. I am still sometimes triggered by people’s “before and after” pictures or articles about “Losing the last 10 pounds”. However, knowing and seeing my Why’s helps me to focus on my own goals and reasons for pursuing health.

Track Your Wins!

Once you have set a goal and you have your Remember Why You Started worksheet in place you are ready to crush your goals! Make sure to keep track of your wins, no matter how big or small.

set a goal and celebrate your wins
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

I would love to hear about your goals and your wins! Comment below or post on social with hashtag #tonsofgoodness

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