In the last email, we discussed how keeping a stress journal can help you identify your stressors. Then you can come up with various success strategies for dealing with them.

In this article, we want to discuss one of the most useful things you can use your new stress journal for is goal setting, in order to take control of your own life so you don’t feel as if you are at the mercy of outside stressors all the time.

Goal Setting, to Live Your Best Life

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Goal setting for your professional and personal life is like mapping out a route to the destination you choose for yourself, a "happy place" where you feel you are living your best life.

Many people react to things that happen to them. Setting goals are all about being proactive. You see a situation and you decide to deal with it.

There are many ways to set goals, but the most important aspects are that they should be specific, measurable, and timed (that is, with some sort of due date). 

Why Resolutions Fail

Many people set New Year’s resolutions each year. However, studies have shown that by the end of two months, only 25% of people are still attempting to go for their goal. Why is this the case? It can’t all be poor willpower. At least part of it has to be bad goal setting.

Get SMART with Your Goals

Many people find the SMART goal-setting system to be helpful. 

SMART=

* Specific

* Measurable

* Attainable

* Relevant/Realistic

* Timed - by a certain deadline

Weight loss is an easy example because it can be measured. You might write in your journal:

"I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of 5 months, 1 pound per week, by counting calories."

This may not sound like a lot, but this is a safe and realistic goal if you just want to focus on what you eat. Working out more (that is, burning more calories each day) would get you to your goal faster.

Stress Goals

In terms of stress, you could say:

"I will take a class on public speaking this semester and give my first speech at the big meeting on October 1 at work." 

"I will learn more about PowerPoint by the end of the month so I can create a really professional-looking presentation and impress the boss on October 1."

Action-Reward Goal Setting

If you find it hard to measure your progress towards your goals, or find you have trouble with motivation, think action-reward. 

"When I lose those 20 pounds, I will treat myself to a new dress."

"When I give that great presentation, I will treat myself to a weekend away."

Setting goals is a good stressor that can lead to personal growth. However, too much stress can soon become bad stress. Let’s look at this in the next article.

Until then …