The written goal is a powerful first step to begin moving past the pain point or becoming “unstuck” after divorce. When you write a goal down, you engage both sides of the brain, create higher motivation for success, and keeps your mental eye on the prize.
Before describing the process of goal setting, here are some pitfalls to avoid before putting the plan to paper. Oftentimes, some will sabotage themselves if they aren’t aware of some of the following common mistakes.
- You want to make sure that whatever goal you set, it is realistic; and however far away it is now, it is something that is within your reach. You know in your heart that with a willingness to do the work and whatever it takes, you can see yourself achieving it. For example, if your goal is to switch careers, it may be unrealistic to just up and quit your job unless you have the resources to carry you through until you find the dream job. Perhaps you need to learn a new skill set, as well. So, it is really important to do your research and choose a goal based on having the information you need to make an informed decision.
- Roadblocks are part of the goal process. It is just an obstacle that forces us choose a different path to reach the objective. We all experience failure and those that live above the ordinary take that failure and see the lessons that can be learned from it. Having the courage to change your perspective regarding the failure and learn from it can transform your life.
- One of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to achieve a goal is not taking the time to review daily or weekly what progress has been made. It takes time to achieve a lofty goal and sometimes we feel like we aren’t really getting any closer to achieving it.
There are six factors to keep in mind when writing a goal plan:
- The goal needs to be specific. Wanting to lose weight is not specific enough. How much weight do you want to lose specifically? How do you plan to do it?
- Ask yourself what you are willing to do to achieve this goal. Decide whether or not you value it enough to do what it takes. By doing this, it will help you to determine how much you want it. There will be some things that you may have to give up in order to succeed.
- The goal needs to be written down. Step by step, there needs to be a tangible, visual frame of reference. It is also useful when tracking your daily/weekly progress.
- The goal needs to have a specific date when it will be achieved. It is not a goal if it is not dated because it needs a deadline. Of course, life sometimes gets in the way and might have to change up the date. Dating the goal also creates a little urgency to achieve it.
- The goal must be developed into a structured plan with action steps.
- The goal must be put where you can see it often. The goal needs to be on the forefront of your mind and seeing often will help with that. Visualize on the screen of your mind that you are already in possession of the goal.
A well-written goal plan will include all of the following:
Let’s start with the goal statement. The goal statement should include WHAT you are going to do, HOW or WHY you are going to do it, and the date you will achieve it.
The goal statement will start with the word “To”, an action word to follow it, and should be in sentence form.
Here is an example of a goal statement that a client, I will call Marcie, devised so that she could begin to move forward after her divorce instead of staying stuck.
Goal Statement: To discover how and why I use anger to keep myself in “victim” mode and take responsibility to break the pattern so that I can become “unstuck” and move forward by _______________________(date).
Next, the obstacles need to be listed. The obstacles are what are in the way of achieving the goal. There may be many or as little as one depending on your goal. You can always add or subtract as you go along. Obstacles can include the following: limiting beliefs, lack of skill, information, motivation, fear, or others getting in the way. (FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real) Fear is one of the biggest obstacles along with limiting beliefs.
Obstacle(s): Understanding my role and responsibility for using anger to hinder my progress and move forward after divorce.
Lastly, there needs to be a list of action steps that will go under each obstacle. Some obstacles may only require one action step while others may require many. These action steps may change as you move forward and start working on achieving your goal. You may discover you need more action steps to overcome the obstacle or you may not need as many. The action steps are also dated to cut down on the procrastination tendency. Some action steps may be more of a challenge than others so the dates can be adjusted. Keep in mind that you want to create a transition as soon as possible so can move forward.
- Examine whether or not expression of anger is serving any constructive purpose in helping me move beyond divorce. How does it serve me? List the ways. ____________________(date).
- Write several situations that became complicated as a result of expressing anger. Write another outcome that could be reality if dealt with the situation without using anger_______________ (date).
- Learn inner-body awareness. Become aware of the “trigger” or feeling that sets off unacceptable behavior and learn how to react appropriately____________________ (date).
- Discover ways to manage resentment (strategies) so can deal with issues/situations in a constructive way__________________(date).