2022 Goal Setting – Breaking it down, so you don’t break down

green typewriter on brown wooden table

We all want to be “kicking goals”, but sometimes we just can’t think about the goals we want to kick. This is because life can become a lot quickly, the things we want seem impossible (so why think about them!?), and the time we have is flying away from us.

There are some cheeky little tools that us social workers use when we are goal setting and problem solving with our clients, and we are going to share them with you.

Step 1: Take the leap and identify your goal. No matter how big or small it might be. Write it down.

“I want to have…”

“I want to feel…”

“I want to share…”

“I want…”

Step 2: Write down 3-5 consequences if you DON’T have this in your life. What could happen? What is happening?

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Step 3: Ask yourself WHY you don’t have this in your life. But stop at one reason why, and write it next to the letter A.

A. (Write the reason here)

Now ask yourself WHY about A

B. (Write the reason here)

Now ask yourself WHY about B

C. (Write the reason here)

Now ask yourself WHY about C

D. (Write the reason here)

Now ask yourself WHY about D

E. (Write the reason here)

We now have a whole lot of answers to different WHY questions… oops, we might have made more of a problem than when we started. Stay with us, please! We aren’t stopping here; this isn’t a ploy to break you down and take your money!

Sometimes when life is overwhelming, when the social work blog you’ve just stumbled across to help you goal set has made things worse, and when all the things stopping you have been identified in Step 3, it can be hard to remember why you’re doing it.

Step 4: Let’s go back to Step 2, but it won’t be counterintuitive – promise! Re-write the “consequences” you identified but think of them as “motivations”. Change the negative words to positive words (Bad = Good, Don’t = Do, Sad = Happy, you get the idea!) Feel free to add more motivations than you had consequences.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

This trick plays on your neural pathways which are wired for negative thinking; how easy was it to think of what is missing or bad in our lives, and then flip them into how it could be better? (Check out our blog You know your ABCs, but do you know about CBT? for more on that!).

Once we have motivators to remind us why we are working towards this goal, towards a better life, and towards what we want, it makes breaking down the barriers (Step 3) a little more worthwhile, even if it going to be hard.

Step 5: Now we get to the problem solving, the barrier jumping, the goal kicking!

It is important you do the rows in order, starting on the first line and answering all the questions across from left to right. This is 20% because we are control freaks, and 80% because we know it works better this way (because we are control freaks). It keeps it broken down into manageable chunks for you to work through.

Whoa up! That’s not in order (again, check out our blog You know your ABCs, but do you know about CBT? to see how you’ve been tricked!)! That is because barrier “E” is more than likely a major barrier at the root of this and other goals not being “kicked” in your life. Aaand, this ain’t our first rodeo, we know that you’re more likely to do the first one than the fifth one so put it first (it’s the most important one!).

If you don’t feel like doing any of them, go back to Step 4, which sends you back to Step 2, which makes you look at Step 1, and all in all will end up being more work, so can we suggest you just stick with Step 5.

From Step 3 What is stopping me? From Step 3 What help do I need? What can I do myself? Who else can help me?

E.

D.

C.

B.

A

If you’re visual, draw yourself a table (or scribble on the back of an envelope – we have all been there), if you’re tech savvy whip out Word or Excel, or if you’re a thinker use the prompts above to promote thought.

photography of bridge
Photo by Wendelin Jacober on Pexels.com

What help do I need?

Have a think about solutions to each barrier in isolation from the others, what needs to be done to break this barrier?

What can I do myself?

Remember you are allowed to help yourself. You have strengths, even if the one thing you do is ASK FOR HELP, write it down! Think about things you are good at, things you’ve done before, things you tell other people to do (holla to all the hypocrites blushing to themselves).

Who else can help me?

First think of people ALREADY in your life, whether they be friends, family, neighbours, children, shop owner down the road, or people who are in paid roles, your GP, your cleaner, your daughter’s best friend’s father’s sister’s cousin!

Second think of people who you might need to have in your life (even just a little) to help with this. Think professionals. Choose professionals you feel you can work with and will work with you towards your goals.

Well done, you have broken it down. We can’t promise this means you won’t ever break down, but we do hope it has given you some problem-solving skills of your own.

If you are seeking help to develop goals, action goals or seeking support, please reach out to our social workers at With Grace Therapy or book a session here.

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