Using smart goals for managing stress is great, but you have to be smart about it…
The New Year is a time when we start to take stock of our lives and set goals for the year ahead. Setting goals gives you something to work towards, plots your course towards your future and can reduce stress and worry in your life.
So this article is all about ways you can manage your stress with goals, either in the New Year or really any time of year.
Why do we want to use goals to manage our stress?
The way that we are all built, it’s quite easy to build stress into our lives. We are all subject to a certain amount of stress, which is inevitable in life. But the way we deal with it is what makes the difference between being able to live a full and fulfilling life and being stuck in a constant cycle of stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but when we are overwhelmed by it, it can make us feel bad about ourselves, our lives and our relationships.
Negative impacts of stress
When we feel overwhelmed, we can end up with anxiety, depression and a feeling of hopelessness. It can also have a negative impact on our health. So setting goals to manage our stress is one of the many good stress management techniques to use in everyday life.
How setting goals can help with stress?
Goals – and by that I mean the right goals – can stop your mind from worrying and give you a sense of purpose and focus. Any goal that we set that is meaningful to us makes us feel better about who we are and what we’re doing.
Goals help us to focus on the present and enjoy the moment. When we work towards our goals – again, the in correct way – we let go of past regrets or future worries because we are so fully focused on what is before us today.
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What is the best goal to reduce stress?
If you have been feeling stressed out, what would be the best goal to help you reduce stress? To get started on the path to answer that question for yourself consider these questions:
- What is the biggest stressor in your life?
- What would be the most useful goal to reduce stress?
- How can you make it happen?
How can you make your goals specific?
Make your goals specific and measurable. For example, the goal of ‘reducing stress’ may be too broad and vague. Try and be more specific, like ‘reduce my stress about getting a mortgage’. If you are having trouble getting started, try writing down your goal on a piece of paper and placing it somewhere you will see it every day.
Less Stressful Ways to Set and Reach Your Goals
If you’re trying to set and achieve goals, instead of reducing stress it could actually be adding to your stress level! How do you know? Well if you’ve notice the following feelings or emotions it could mean that you’re stressed out about your goals:
- You’re struggling to decide what to focus on.
- You’re overwhelmed by the number of things you need to accomplish.
- You’re not sure if you’re making progress.
Want to learn how to achieve your goals without the stress of perfectionism? You are not alone! There’s no magic formula to help you reach your goals. If you’re just starting to think about what you want to accomplish in the new year, you might feel a bit lost.
But you don’t have to be. The good news is, there are a few ways to make the process of setting and achieving your goals less stressful and more effective.
Here are some tips on how to set and reach your goals in a less stressful way.
(You will notice I said less stressful and not easier. Don’t be surprised by that. If you are reading this blog you have probably already thought about doing things in a less stressful way.)
Think long and hard
When you are setting your goals, really think long and hard about them. Don’t just willy-nilly jot a few random thoughts down and hope you can achieve them.
Here is probably the most important thing to consider when setting goals – What do you want most in your life? What would make you happy? What inspires you? Consider what means the most to you and write these down – such as Relationships (family, friends) Real estate (buying a home, getting out of debt) Knowledge (personal development, reading books).
Make this a starting point for setting the right goals for yourself. The more important and meaningful your goals are, the higher the chance you’ll focus on doing whatever it takes to reach them.
Focus on the present
If you are stressed about the future, try focusing on the present. For example, if you are worrying about your future, you can change your thoughts by focusing on the present. And make sure that you are focusing on what you can control.
You should be using a method to make sure you’re setting both the right goals as well as goals that will be achievable. One of the methods I often recommend is to use the S.M.A.R.T method when setting your goals. The acronym of SMART means that your goals are SMART – they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. This will help you to keep your goals realistic, achievable and will help you to manage your time.
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Manage your stress by writing down your goals
One of the most important things you can do to help you reach your goals is this – write them down and keep them in front of you. Write down a list of your goals, the date by which you want to achieve them and what you need to do to make them happen. When you see your goals written down, it helps you to take action towards it. It is easy to get bend out of shape by stress, but a simple approach to your goals will help you to feel better about achieving your goals.
And speaking of reaching your goals, here’s another tip. Take action on your goals everyday. Use a planner or journal or some tool to map out your goals, and what you intend to do every month, week and yes – even every day – to reach them. break up large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks and generally be happier and healthier people. Daily activity towards your goals helps you notice the progress you are making and makes your attention to your goals less stressful and it can even help to improve your coping skills.
Make wise choices
When you have goals in mind, you should prioritize, plan and then use your time wisely.
It is important to prioritize your goals. This is because you will only have so much time and energy to work on your goals. If you don’t prioritize your goals, you will never be able to achieve them. So make sure you’re focused on the most important things you need to do daily, weekly and monthly to succeed
An example of wise choice
For example, maybe one of your goals is to save enough money to take that long-needed trip to one of your favorite destinations. You need to prioritize this goal as compared to the other goals you have set. You might find out that this goal conflicts with another goal (like paying off debt). You can use your time to achieve this goal by budgeting for it.
Then, if it’s a prioritized goal, get to your budget. Plan on how much money you’re going to need to take that trip. Then, break that amount down into smaller chunks and determine how much money you need to put away every week or month (or ever every day!)
Use visualizations to help reach your goals
If you are struggling to reach your goals to reduce stress, a great technique you can use is visualization to help you. Visualization is a powerful tool to help you to remember and reach your goals.
The easiest way to use visualization is this way it so take these steps
- Create a visual picture of you already reaching your goal.
- Imagine yourself already achieving and your goal and what that feels like.
- Imagine what the world is like around you when you have achieved your goal, and what that feels like.
- Express gratitude (verbally or In your imagination) for reaching your goal.
It’s often a good idea to do this in bed right before going to sleep at night, or when first awaking in the morning.
Setting goals can be difficult at times, and can actually cause stress. But if you follow the guidelines listed above, not only will you have a better chance to reach your goals, you can do so without stressing yourself out in the process. g.
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