5 Tips To Help You Reach Your Goals

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Turn Your Goals Into Change

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

Regardless of what you’re trying to change, whether it’s your diet, your work/life balance, your relationship, change is hard…but it’s never impossible. 

Then why haven’t I ever been able to  I hear you ask…

To successfully change something in your life you need three key things:

Change is hard, but if you want it enough, never impossible

Change is hard, but if you want it enough, never impossible

1. Motivation and a desire to change
2. Belief in your ability to change
3. Strategies to bring about change

Be lacking in one of these areas and you’ll fail to change.  Not because you’re not capable of change, but because you’re trying to achieve change without all the necessary tools for success.  It’s like trying to complete a puzzle without all the pieces.

Below are our top tips for achieving change.  Pick an area to focus on and put them into practice.  Don’t let past ‘failures’ convince you you’re not capable of change.  Remember – you didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle before.

Tip #1: Believe In Your Ability to Change

If you’ve had trouble achieving change in the past you’ve probably questioned your ability to change and this can make change feel even more impossible and overwhelming.  Make a list of changes you’ve made in the past and the personal strengths that helped you to achieve these changes.  Keep this list handy and read over it whenever you start to doubt yourself.

Tip #2: Be Clear On Why You Want To Change

When you’re tired or stressed it will be tempting to revert back to old habits.  Help yourself stay on track by being really clear about your reasons for change.  Make a list of all the advantages of achieving your change and the disadvantages of not achieving your change and when you feel yourself returning to old habits remind yourself why you set this goal in the first place.

Tip #3: Watch Out For Loopholes

Our heads are very skilled at finding loopholes to goals.  It’s so easy to get tricked into going along with thoughts like “I’m so tired, it’s been such a long day, I’ll start again tomorrow” or “Just this once won’t matter, I deserve a break”, but it’s a slippery slope.  Once you’ve broken your goal once, it’s easier to break it again the next time.  Don’t let your head trick you into thinking that it doesn’t matter because it does.  See loopholes for what they are – excuses – and stick to your goals.

Tip #4: Set Realistic Goals

Trying to make huge, drastic changes will get you nowhere fast.  Worse, when you can’t sustain drastic changes you’re more likely to blame yourself and assume you’re incapable of change than you are to blame your unrealistic goals.  Set goals that are realistic and that you’re confident you can achieve so you can prove to yourself that you can change.  Remember it’s more important to sustain change than it is to achieve rapid change.

Tip #5: Be Specific

The more specific you are, the more likely you are to achieve your goals so make set plans for turning your goals into actions.  For example, if your goal is to “eat better”, turn this into a specific goal by deciding what eating better looks like.  A more specific goal might be “eat vegetables with dinner 3 nights out of 7” or “replace my Tim-Tams at afternoon tea with a muesli bar and piece of fruit on 2 days out of 7”.

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.