Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Smart Goals Part 2: Identifying Barriers

The worksheet I linked to yesterday calls them Obstacles. I like to think of them as Barriers. Most people don't want to think of them at all. When we set off to make changes it's natural to want to stick with the positive, which is for most of us is the outcome we're looking for.

I encourage you to examine your life and consider the things that could get in the way of reaching that outcome. It's much easier to navigate a barrier when you've already thought it out. It's also much less likely to knock you off the path to reaching your goal.

It will pay off big time to sit down when you formulate your goal and consider the top three potential barriers and come up with potential solutions. Take care not to simply "throw" a solution at an obstacle. Really think it out when choosing solutions and consider your lifestyle and the amount of time you have available on a daily basis. You may have to get a little creative. Ask yourself how sure you are that this solution will help you navigate the potential obstacle. On a scale of 1 being almost no confidence in the solution to 10 being total confidence in the solution - where are you with this solution?

If your confidence level is 7 or above you've most likely come up with a solid plan. 4-6 means you may have to tweak the solution a bit.

But, what about 1-3? An honest confidence score this low points out that you've identified a serious barrier. You may want to go back to your goal and see if there is a way to modify it to at least partially overcome the barrier.

Let's look at an example. I'll use lack of Time because it's probably the most common barrier I hear stated.

Let's say your goal is to exercise each and every day for an hour a day. You identify time as your barrier. After careful consideration you realize that the only way you will be able to exercise for an hour would be to cut yourself short on sleep. Realistically that isn't going to work long term.

You could alter your goal to 30 minutes of exercise a day and potentially even break that 30 minutes into three 10 minute segments doing one first thing in the morning, one at lunch and one when you get home from work. Once you are successful with this you could re-evaluate and increase your time. Or you may come up with a totally different answer to the problem. The point is that this is your life, your goal, your barrier and the solution should be yours as well.

If your goal is to eat less processed food but you believe you don't have time to cook three meals a day. You might make an inital goal to simply learn about healthy eating and simple meal prep. You could make changes in one meal at a time. Again, your solution should be your solution!

The idea is to work with your goal until it fits your lifestyle well enough that you are confident in being able to reach it.

As my Grandmother used to say, "Slow and Steady wins the race."

Tomorrow: Action plan

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