Welcome to the fourth instalment of my wellbeing blog series. In prior blogs we have discussed the importance of implementing daily relaxation, and techniques for centring ourselves. We have also explored the idea of self-compassion and finding a way to be kinder to ourselves.
This week is about how to work towards change. People come to see me as a psychologist because they want change. As an example they may want to change something about themselves, their relationships, their beliefs, or how they view themselves in the world. No matter the reason, wanting change in some aspect of your life makes sense. We evolve over our lifetimes, our worlds change, our bodies change, and so too must our minds change.
Wanting change is not the hardest part. Thinking about how to change is the part that we often need help with. For example, many people make New Year’s resolutions, and then feel discouraged or hopeless if those resolutions don’t eventuate. In fact, if we set ourselves plans/targets/goals for change that are unrealistic and unattainable it reinforces to ourselves that we can’t change. For this reason setting realistic goals is so important.
Smart goals for change
You may well have heard of S.M.A.R.T goal setting, it’s an old concept, but I speak of it here because it is valuable and important. S.M.A.R.T goals are defined as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive. If you want something to change, setting yourself a target that is S.M.A.R.T is an important part of remaining kind to yourself (read more about self-compassion here). It often helps to write your goals down using the following principals.
- Goals should be specific. Be clear and emphasise what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus and define what we are going to do.
- Goals should be measurable. Choose a goal where you can measure its progress. This will help you identify when the changes take place. When you can measure your progress it motivates you to stay on track.
- Goals should be attainable. A goal needs to be something that will challenge you and be hard, yet not too big or impossible. We all start with the best of intentions, but if your goal feels overwhelming and too large you’ll be more likely to give up before you achieve it.
- Goals should be realistic. This doesn’t mean easy but it does mean that you should feel capable of achieving this goal. It means that you have the skills and resources available to do the work. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment.
- Goals should be time-sensitive. Set a timeframe for the goal: such as one year, or the next six months etc. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
• You may have the goal of wanting to have more work life balance.
• More specifically, the goal may include that between now and the end of 2017 I will set aside 30 minutes three times per week to do progressive muscle relaxation and centring activities (read more about these here). I will also dedicate a minimum of one hour, twice per week, to spending time with my family and during this time I will not look at my phone.
• I will keep a diary of my goal and check in at the end of each week on my progress.
Sometimes making goals alone is difficult, and achieving change is a process that takes time. You may wish to consider speaking with your GP, or contact Jessica to discuss this further.
Some more helpful resources:
• Black Dog Institute: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
• Lifeline: 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au
• Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or www.beyondblue.org.au/