Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goal Setting

I read that New Year's resolutions are not good things because they often lead to disappointment.  Your firm decision to change something is not enough by itself; you need to set actual goals and not just any kind of goal either. You need to make... "SMART ones".  A resolution is not worth much without a plan behind it.
The graphic summarizes this form of goal setting very nicely.

Most of my occupational therapy sessions involved setting and achieving goals and I think I got pretty good at it. I completed a lot of goals while moving toward recovery, goals like walking and learning how to cook again. At one point I even had a goal to use the computer to made myself cute worksheets to help me set goals!

Moving forward with recovery and self-improvement projects on my own is a little more challenging. My life is increasingly busy with the details of everyday life and I no longer have my weekly appointment with my OT to help focus on my goals. I liked having my regular appointments with small deadlines to work toward and I liked having someone listen to me share my accomplishments. Basically I like feedback and a little bit of praise once in a while. Trying to keep up the momentum on my own is much harder, but I know that I now have the ability and the tools to move toward my next goals.

Pete Levine recently wrote a post about task specific training for recovery.  He states, "don't let survivors forget what most motivates them. The most powerful tools live inside the survivor." Pete's whole article is very interesting but that particular phrase caught my attention. I was intrigued with the idea of reflecting on why I would choosing certain goals in the first place and what motivates me to keep working toward those goals.  I think it starts with how you see yourself and on your personal values and aptitudes but such self-awareness takes thought. I think my values have not changed much over the years but how I see myself has changed through the process of recovery.  I never would have called myself determined before, and I never though of myself as hard working but I am proud to have discovered these and other strengths over the past few years. This new awareness gives me the courage to try even more new things.

The real value in New Year's resolutions might be that you have an opportunity to review what you want to change. Hopefully you will also have an opportunity to reflect with pride on what you have accomplished in the past year. If you know what motivates you I think you can determine your goals and then find strategies that will keep you moving forward towards accomplishing your objectives and perhaps even few dreams.

For more information about Smart Goals and for the source of the above graphic please see
It has a free "smarter goals template" on that page that is pretty useful.

Linda's Goals for 2012

Exercise Goal --- continue with my weekly group water therapy and Tai Ji and add in active living sessions 3 times a week

Nutrition Goal --- plan meals and food ahead of time and record what I eat.  My weight is an issue.

Guitar --- practice 5 days a week and NOT have expectations for how much I can progress

Computer Skills --- work through the Photo-shop textbook I have and hopefully later this year I can register for the community college course I was forced to drop when I got sick.

Photography Skills --- I am trying to take pictures every week and I want to try and do some online theme challenges.

Job Rehabilitation --- I am not sure where this is going yet but I will continue to work with the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities and see where that leads me.

Home Organization --- I still need to make a plan for this one, but we have a lot of clutter to deal with in our home.


Barb Polan said...

You cover so much yardage here that I'm having trouble beginning ...

The biggest problem I see in my goal-setting is that I will set a big goal (rowing again) and break it into skills I need to recover (like holding an oar); I break the skills into smaller bites (like extending my fingers); then my mistake: I give myself a timeline for the milestones along the way (extending my forefinger, picking up something very light, etc.).

It's the timeline that I fail at every time.

It's that old problem of optimism - damned if you do (disappointment) and damned if you don't (no faith in yourself).

Linda said...

Barb that is why most of what I have in my list is about participating in an activity, not necessarily recovering a skill. I can control if I show up but not how good I am at the activity.

I am so frustrated with how slow the Guitar is going. I never dreamed I would keep getting stuck like I do. (literally-- my fingers keep spasming down tight on the guitar).

My goal therefore is to keep on practicing regularly and not give up.

About that motivation? I realize I need to be socializing with other people therefore groups and lessons help keep me going.

I am also really scared of getting stuck where I am with no improvements so I get excited with any little changes.

Why do you want to row?

Rainglo said...

Linda I have trouble with NY resolutions, but find it is much more effective for me to set goals anytime during the year, as you have been doing. It is also OK to edit the goals according to new information. Otherwise setting realistic goals and be willing to revise. After all, big corporations spending big money realign their goals all the time, so why shouldn't we? Can be hard to face not achieving one that feels so important, but then we must go back to that saying about when a door closes, another one opens or do we want to be happy or do we want to be "right"? I have physical setbacks all the time to exercise, as well as the thyroid and weight related issues, and if I don't remain flexible, I'd just sink into depression and then have yet another goal to try and surmount. After I fell last summer, as I got stronger, I started setting really small goals, things I could chip away at, and building on them really helped me sort out my feelings. I did not fall as often into discouragement, but just backed off and set smaller goals or remembered to ask for help. Writing to "My Ladies" helped a lot of the time and agree with you that feedback really helps on a regular basis. One of my greatest challenges has been getting overwhelmed from setting too many goals & making too many commitments. Once I pared them down to what is more realistic for me, a lot of the STRESS went away. It was more clear then that all I really needed to do was please myself.

Thanks for sharing about this on your blog, it helped get me think a bit about my own goals & growth.

Rainglo said...

Oh, one more little thing.....I know your goal is guitar, but you might also pay a visit to the music store and try other instruments (autoharp? Mtn. Dulcimer?) that might be easier on your body (ones that would not require you to put as much pressure on strings). Wouldn't hurt to experiment. I have friends who "work" at playing several acoustic instruments (myself included). Have you ever tried the Ukelele? :-) Electric guitar is a LOT easier to play than acoustic, I'm just sayin...... :-) (who knows you might uncover your latent boogie-woogie bass player inside? haha!

Another thing on guitar, ask your instructor to show you some tunings which can sometimes only require you to press a string here and there and not whole chords (because you essentially tune the whole guitar into a preset chord) on some songs. Even the big experts use that tactic and they usually come with a few guitars tuned different ways!

garydotgray said...

Hey Linda, AWESOME!!!

I love SMART goals. I am researching something called "project goals for stroke recovery". I noticed that I have been setting project goals and then using smaller SMART goals to get to my project goal. This year my project goal is to research the topic (which I am doing)and then write and publish an e-book on the subject before the end of 2012. For me working on the mind helps to recover the body.

Past project goals have been to learn to use the tech tools of the Internet, have my work published in a book, complete an information paper on why we need stroke acute care/recovery units, have a part in implementing the "Organized Stroke Care model for Prince Edward Island, to kayak again on the Brudenell river, have a part in the writing of the new community support booklet published on the CSN (Canadian Stroke Network) site "Life After Stroke", to create and maintain a page for stroke caregivers, to create and maintain a page for stroke education and awareness, to create and maintain a page for stroke survivors, to teach basic computer classes again, to do volunteer work at least 1 to 3 days per week. to drive and on and on it went. When we are working toward a goal that we can see. (the project) One that we are passionate about then it becomes about the project and NOT the progress that we are making with our recovery. At that point others can see our recovery much more clearly than we can ourselves.

That's enough bla, bla, bla and I do love your post and think it is AWESOME!

p.s. can you tell that I might be jurt a bit passionate about this years project. LOL

Elizabeth, John and Jack said...

I can't believe SMART goals are coming back to me again. When I was a sales rep. For Abbott Labs, that was a requirement everyday, every call. What was your goal? Was it SMART? Gone are my working days for now, but SMART goals are here to stay!! Way to go on your very ambitious list. I need to refine my focus once I recover from my latest set back. I will come back and refresh my memory when I'm ready to start my list. Thanks for reminding me to always make SMART goals. Best wishes and much success in meeting all your goals. Happy new year!!

Rebecca said...

When I was an OT, insurance companies forced me to generate timelines. As a stroke survivor I never think about them. It's very liberating.

Grace Carpenter said...

So many things to think about in this post! Thanks.

You're totally right about not pushing yourself on the guitar practice. So many people injure their selves from practice. I've been trying to do some reading along to music, without playing, or looking at scales if I'm too tired to play (piano).

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Barb Polan said...

Linda: Rowing in a gig boat on Gloucester Harbor with a crew of friends is heaven. If you ever get a chance, do it and you'll know exactly why it's my primary goal.

Lori said...

I just did research on SMART objectives today for a training. Good stuff!

Great minds think alike!

Lori said...

I just did research on SMART objectives today for a training. Good stuff!

Great minds think alike!

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