How To Begin Setting Goals

By David Pearl, LCSW

When setting goals, it is important to distinguish between short, medium, and long-term goals.  Short-term goals can be anything from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks.  Medium-term goals tend to encompass anything from a month to a few months. Long-term goals can be thought of as more than six months out.  Within each time frame it is important to pick measurable and specific goals. These are goals you can quantifiably check off.  When deciding if a goal is most appropriate, I recommend living by what I call the 7-Rule.  Set a goal and honestly check with yourself on a scale from 1-10, 1 being no confidence in completing it, and 10 being 100% confidence.  If you do not reach a 7 on the scale for each goal, it is important to pick a smaller goal that will get you to a 7.  You should be able to set 7-Rule goals for short, medium, and long-term goals.  The reason it is important to distinguish between time and confidence is because of the power of accomplishment.  The more we achieve, the more motivated we are to keep pushing.  It is also a good way to measure by looking back to see how far we’ve come.

I recommend focusing on a short-term goal and checking the 7-Rule.  Often, people think about where they want to be rather than where they are.  It is important to start with the simplest step and gain confidence from there.  By simplest step, I mean just that.  The act of crossing something off a list and feeling a sense of accomplishment can be contagious, and set you up on a path for success.  Runners in-training often say, “If you think you are running slow, run slower.”  This motto applies to turning intentions into action and then into accomplishment.

Writing down your goals is always a good idea in order to a) remember what your goals are, b) see the progress you have made, and c) allow yourself the flexibility to add and adjust your goals.  If there is a place where you get stuck, fall back on the 7-Rule and come up with a game plan for new short, medium, and long-term goals.  There is no reason to stay fixated on the original list if you are stuck. It is perfectly acceptable to make adjustments and set yourself up for success moving forward.  If you have been successful with your goal setting, push yourself. See if the goals you set for yourself were too small, and if they were, come up with a new list and check again with the 7-Rule.

Article written by:

David Pearl

LCSW, Psychotherapist and founder

I am a psychotherapist, executive coach, and organizational consultant helping athletes, performers, professionals, and businesses in Nashville, Tennessee, New York, and online via telehealth.

I obtained my Master’s degree from The Silver School of Social Work at NYU and my Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am formally trained in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), and have certifications in Imago Relationship Therapy and Prepare/Enrich Premarital and Marital Counseling.

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