Setting goals is a great way to keep us motivated to accomplish the things in our life that matter most to us. Goals also help us to take action. When we write down our goals, we are more likely to do something, to take action on our goals. Goals help us focus on what’s important and more importantly eliminate tasks that are unnecessary or take us away from our goals.
Even with all the benefits of setting and achieving goals, some people have a hard time getting started. In “Creating Your Best Life,” Caroline Adams Miller Mapp & Dr. Michaels B. Frisch recommend beginning by thinking about or writing down things that you have already accomplished in your life. Your past is a great predictor of your future. Looking at all the goals you have already completed in your life can help motivate you for the next big life goal.
Think of all you have done in your life. You may have completed high school, college, earned a master’s or doctorate degree, raise a family, learned a special skill, earned promotions in a job, had success in sports or other areas of life. When you look back, it gives you the motivation to move forward.
A few months ago, one of our younger clients was talking to me about her goals. She felt that she never finished anything she started. As we talked, I found out that she was in the honors program at school, had received several major awards and had even spent a week in the wilderness alone completing a NOLS, (National Outdoors Leadership School) wilderness expedition. Looking back helped her realize that she does finish what she starts and has achieved more goals as a young High School student than many adults achieve in their lifetime. This process bolstered her confidence in achieving her new goals.
There are several reasons why thinking about your past achievements will help you create your goals today. Remembering your successes will bring you positive feelings and help you feel hopeful about setting and achieving new goals. Writing down your past achievements also builds your self-efficacy, your feeling that you are able to achieve your goals. Self-efficacy is a good predictor of success and happiness.
So, if you are feeling stuck creating or starting a new goal, look at your past, give yourself a pat on the back for all you have already accomplished and get started on that new goal.