Checking In: Goals for 2012

As part of the annual New Years tradition, many people have set "New Year Resolutions" for 2012. It is now mid-January and time to check-in with our goal setting. Whether for New Years or not, goal setting is an important skill that helps promote motivation and inspiration, two very important aspects of maintaining optimum mental health.
A common problem occurs when we set goals that are too ideal or far-fetched. These goals end up floating on this ideal cloud that we have created which often are not accomplished and in return leaves us with feelings of shame and guilt. To avoid this common mistake we need to understand the difference between our ideal self and our real self. Our ideal self is the image that we project of a better more perfect version of ourselves; typically this version is quite far-fetched. Chasing after our ideal self can often leave us in a constant state of feeling "not good enough". Therefore, we need to begin accepting and having compassion for our real self first. 
We can take the first step by practicing goal setting for our real self:

     1. Set small goals that are not too far off from where you are right now. 
     2. Set small goals that you could reasonably accomplish tomorrow or next week if you put the right amount of effort.
     3. Keep the majority of your goals small and reserve one or two for bigger goals that are more for the long term future.
     4. Ask yourself, "is this goal that I have set too ideal?"
     5. Remember, it is more important to set small, real goals that you can accomplish than to set ideal goals that are unlikely to be accomplished.
     6. By setting small accomplishable goals, you will benefit from the satisfaction of actually accomplishing it and that will in turn promote more goal setting in the future. 
It is important to always be challenging ourselves and reaching for new heights, but to not push ourselves towards a destination that is too perfect, or too ideal. 
Happy goal setting!
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