Realistic Goal Setting

Realistic Goal Setting

You might already be a goal setting pro, but if I were a betting woman, I’d guess that this idea of measurable, time-bound, incremental goals is probably new territory. Sure, we’ve all made goals in our lives, but tell me… how many times have you ever stuck to a New Years Resolution? When we apply the specific parameters to goal setting that we discussed yesterday, we set ourselves up for much more success than we’re likely to experience otherwise.


But one additional piece that’s important to address is the importance of bite-sized goals. So often we shoot for the moon: find the dream partner, nail the six-figure promotion, buy the dream car… but if we haven’t tackled any small goals successfully, first, we may lack the self-efficacy to reach the big dreams. To review, the father of the psychological idea of self-efficacy, Albert Bandura, defines it as:


"the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations."

...or, the belief in yourself that you got this.


The beautiful thing about self-efficacy (among many other neat psychology hacks) is that we can build self-efficacy. We do this through—you guessed it—small goals.


You know yourself and your circumstances best, but if we might suggest some small goals to attempt to tackle right now, how about…


  • Increasing your social connectedness by 10%: by reaching out to one friend or loved one weekly, for 6 weeks. Measure how fulfilled you feel in your relationships and social connections on a scale of 0-10 when you begin, again 3 weeks in, and at the 6 month mark. If you have increased just 1 point in the duration of this process, you will have improved by 10%

  • Practicing a morning routine 3 times this week: by scheduling the mornings during which you’ll spend some extra time dialing into activities that ground and energize you for the day ahead (like journaling, meditation, exercise, etc.), detailing what activities you will do during this routine, obtaining any needed supplies, carving out a cozy space, and setting an earlier bedtime the evenings before. Measure your efficacy (the number of days you completed your morning routine) at the end of the week and make adjustments as needed—increase the number of mornings the next week, decrease the number, or reconfigure your routine.

  • Gettinging 10% more sleep next week: by documenting your sleep during this current week, multiplying by 1.1, and building that into your schedule next week. Perhaps front-load your week with the “extra” sleep in case you start to fall behind. Outline any supplies you need to get extra zzzz’s—a sound machine, a sleep tracker, new blackout curtains, an alarm clock (so your phone can charge in another room), etc. Outsource any unnecessary work at home or the office that will allow you to “clock out” a bit earlier so you can go to sleep earlier. Measure your progress at the end of the week (by tallying sleep hours) and regroup.