When you have a goal that means a lot to you such as;
- Building a self care habit
- Boosting your mental health
- Improving your physical health
- Embarking on a career change
It’s important to find a method for reducing stress when pursuing a goal that is meaningful to you.
First it helps to make the goal specific and measurable (more on that in another Happiness Notebook article to come)
But how do you overcome that overwhelmed “where do I Start?” Feeling?
This is a common experience when tackling a bigger goal. You know there are steps and processes but where do you start right now?
This is the topic I’m helping with today with one concept. It’s not a total answer to achieving your goals but instead a skill with language that allows you stay in the moment and the day.
The starter motor for your goals
We’ve all heard of the starter motor in a car. It provides the initial energy and power needed to start the drive. The method I describe this week is the starter motor for your current day as you keep in mind your larger goal. It helps reduce stress for pursuing anything that takes time and effort.
When stress or overwhelm is a sign of your courage
To begin with, I want to encourage you on the journey. You have high aspirations to:
- Grow meaning and purpose in you life
- Cultivate success in your goals
- Become healthier and stronger
- Develop a productivity plan that allows you to stay balanced and healthy
You have courage and perseverance for having these aspirations and hopes, and allowing them to exist in the middle of the challenges and stress that come along in life.
The skill I offer this week involves a bunch of words to reinforce a mental habit that will help you in the now so you can focus on what you can
So here we go:
The “what can I do today?” Method for kickstarting momentum on your goals
Here’s a quick example with a fictional person:
Jenna is 45. She has a back injury, hasn’t worked for 8 months, and gained weight that has added discomfort to her spine. She also feels low in her mood because her self care has dropped, she has pain, and she feels unhealthy.
Jenna came to counseling to work through her feelings. and establish some goals so she can live with more joy, and improve her well-being by working with her pain specialist and counsellor.
Her long term goal is to begin a walking program, add healthy foods to her diet, and undertake a work skills program online. In short, Jenna feels overwhelmed with the journey ahead. She and her counsellor devise a weekly plan but she wakes up each day feeling overwhelmed and has trouble visualizing success.
I have this technique to help clients get their starter motor running. It’s a great way to build hope and success in the small things so the bigger goal comes into view.
Imagine a mountain in the distance you need to climb but there’s a fog covering the path ahead. The method I describe is a way to clear the initial fog so you can start walking towards your destination.
There are six short steps to the process:
1. Grab your goals journal or piece of paper
This is a place you write out your goals and carry out the weekly journal exercises you receive here each week in my Happiness Notebook articles. Subscribe below to receive your weekly email with the Happiness Notebook so you don’t miss it.
2. Write out one goal.
In Jenna’s case above it could be “improve my health with better food and a gradual exercise plan”.
3. Make it specific and manageable with a “why” statement.
For example “eat three pieces of fruit each day, veges or salad at two meals and walk for 15 mins a day to boost my health and follow the plan devised by my pain specialist. Why? This is so I can have energy, lose weight and watch the injury heal over time”.
4. Write down any challenges and abilities you have today.
For example. “My pain is high today but I have time to walk and rest”. This is looking at your current situation with honesty and acceptance.
5. The journey may seem long with, for example, losing weight gradually or undertaking a course of study. So now write “What can I do today?” And make a list of three things.
For example: walk for 15 minutes, fill in my pain journal, eat a salad at lunch. Try keeping this list visible throughout your day.
6. Reflect on your progress at the end of the day with one statement.
For example, “I walked for fifteen minutes and ate a balanced diet. I took time to do my relaxation exercises and noticed that self care made my day better. I’m on the way to feeling well and getting to my healthy weight”.
The next time you wake up feeling overwhelmed or stressed about working towards your goal, grab your journal and give the above six steps a go. I encourage you to be compassionate with yourself as you grow.
With love and wishing you a great week of well-being, purpose and positive productivity