“I can’t change the direction of the wind,
but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination”
Jimmy Dean

Well, it’s that time of the year, the time when everyone is making resolutions and new goals for themselves.   The new year, the new you!  The television and radio commercials are filled with new weight loss plans, new smoking cessation products, and new home organizational ideas.   You probably have a list of things you might want to do. But how many of us really stick to those resolutions?   Statistics show not many.  However, what I have found over time, is that people who set goals are happier with themselves, perform and concentrate better, and suffer from less stress and anxiety.

In graduate school I remember struggling in a class.  The professor asked me what my goal was and I confidently replied, “to do well!” I remember him laughing and explaining to me that was an “OK” goal, but how was I going to get there? And what was “to do well?” Was it an A, a B, to barely pass the class?   He continued saying that the reason why most people fail to reach their goals was because they didn’t have a plan to get there.  At 23, I learned the importance in not only learning how to set goals, but also how to alter my lifestyle to achieve them.

In counseling, my clients and I set goals for ourselves.  How will we know when things are better?  What are we working towards? I am there to help identify some possible goals.  Each client is given time, encouragement and guidance to work and process through their situations.  I believe each client deserves a safe environment to work on their struggles, in their own timeline. Respecting individuality and uniqueness, each client’s treatment plan has different goals, and a different time frame.

Aside from the mental health aspect of goal-setting, for those of you who are setting new goals for yourself in 2011, here are some tips:

Write Down Goals
The importance of writing your goals down is to avoid future confusion, and have something to refer back to if needed.  By writing your goals down, you can have a reminder of what you are working towards. Some thoughts to think about while writing down your goals:

What do you want?
Why do you want it?
How do you plan on achieving it?
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else”  Lawrence J Peter

Be detailed and track progress
Have something you can measure, using dates, times, or amounts. Write down your progress in a notebook, a Google document or spreadsheet on your computer.  It is important to be specific.  How will you know when you have reached your goal(s)? For example, if you are working on losing weight, a good goal might be 10 pounds in the next 3 months.

Look at the big picture, break down into smaller goals
When creating goals, it could be easy to see the big picture.  We want the basement cleaned, we want to have less anxiety attacks, we want a new car.  The harder part is breaking down your big goal into more manageable pieces.  Here, you can see if your goal is realistic and what you specifically need to do in order to reach your goal.

Big Picture:
Paint my home this month.
Breaking it down:
Week 1: Pick colors, buy paint and tape, and other painting supplies
Week 2: Paint room 1
Week 3: Paint room 2
Week 4: Paint room 3

“Goals are dreams with deadlines” Diana Scharf Hunt

Use positive statements
“Studying more” instead of “Don’t slack off”
“Say hello to 3 new people a day” instead of “Don’t ignore new people”

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal” Henry Ford

You are the biggest advocate for yourself.  While your initial enthusiasm can wear off quickly, I encourage you to keep yourself motivated and continue moving towards your goals.  Life is an ongoing journey, so take it one step at a time, one GOAL at a time. If you need someone along the way, please know I’m here to help you and your family with whatever goal you may be striving for.

Best Wishes in the new year!

From everyone here at Step By Step Counseling, LLC,  We wish you and your family a healthy and happy 2011!




Jennie Wilson is a child and adolescent therapist. She holds the credentials of a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor