Goal Setting Series #1: Setting Realistic Goals

setting realistic goals

Are your goals often oversized and unrealistic, leading to feelings of failure and disappointment when you can’t meet them? 

Join me as I redefine goal setting in the context of midlife, focusing on the power of achievable, behavior-focused goals that lead to lasting change. I share personal experiences and insights, shedding light on the necessity of meeting ourselves where we currently are in life. 

We challenge the norm, demonstrating that it’s entirely okay, and even necessary, to adjust and evolve our goals as we grow, highlighting the importance of flexibility in this process.

I also talk about common goal-setting myths, debunking them one by one. I illuminate the value of adaptability and the power of taking small, deliberate steps towards your future. 

I invite you to journey with me, transforming your aspirations into attainable realities, and making this year a year of true growth and fulfillment. Get ready to change your perspective on goal setting and align your goals with your life! 

Tune in, and let’s shape an amazing day together.

Chapter Summaries

Setting Realistic Goals (0:00:04) 

Align goals with life stages, use behavior goals for lasting change, and break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed in setting ambitious goals.

The Power of Realistic Goal Setting (0:08:01) 

Focus on behaviors, embrace failure, and adapt goals as you grow. Start small and be flexible.

Achieving Goals (0:20:15)

Overcome myths in goal setting, adjust and adapt, join the Facebook group, practical tips for achieving goals.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Learn how to set realistic and achievable goals that fit your current lifestyle, break away from overwhelming ambitions, and gain valuable insights into goal-setting strategies tailored for women facing midlife challenges.
  • Discover how behavior goals act as your roadmap to achieving desired outcomes, creating lasting habits for success, and unlocking a fulfilling approach to realistic goal-setting.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Are you setting goals for the new year and wondering how to make them stick this time? Welcome to a special episode series that’s all about goal setting.

In this first episode of the series, we’re talking about setting realistic goals. Goals that fit into your life right now.

Now, imagine, this time next year, do you see yourself thriving with goals achieved? Or are you worried you might be in the same spot as today? If you’re ready to break that cycle of setting ambitious goals and then feeling overwhelmed, this episode is for you.

Today, we are diving deep into what realistic truly means in goal setting, especially for women in midlife. We’ll explore why smaller behavior focused goals are the secret to lasting change. And how you can set yourself up for success. Starting exactly right where you are today.

Don’t miss out on this journey to turn your aspirations into attainable realities. Stay with me, and let’s make this year the year your goals truly align with your life. Because let’s face it, you deserve goals that are realistic and achievable as they are inspiring.

Let’s get started.

Welcome to Total Health and Midlife, the podcast for women embracing the pivotal transformation from the daily grind to the dawn of a new chapter. I’m Elizabeth, your host and fellow traveler on this journey.

As a Life and Health Coach, I am intimately familiar with the changes and challenges we face during this stage. Shifting careers, changing relationships, our new bodies, and redefining goals and needs as we start to look to the future and ask, what do I want?

In this podcast, we’ll explore physical, mental, and emotional wellness, offering insights and strategies to achieve optimal health through these transformative years.

Yes, it’s totally possible.

Join me in this amazing journey of body, mind, and spirit, where we’re not just improving our health, but transforming our entire lives.

Welcome to the goal setting series. Before we get into this fantastic content in today’s bonus episode, I want to quickly let you know about an incredible opportunity coming up on January 8th, 2024 at 12 PM Eastern. I am hosting a live class titled, ‘Your Healthiest Year.’

This class ties in perfectly with the four part goal setting series. It’s an opportunity for you to work directly with me and refine your goals for 2024, ensuring that they’re not just realistic, but they also truly stick.

Today’s episode will begin to set the stage for this class, helping you to understand the importance of setting attainable goals. To be a part of this journey, visit elizabethsherman.com/2024 to register. And I’ll make sure that the link is in the show notes. Don’t miss out on making 2024 your healthiest year without being miserable in the process.

Hey everyone and welcome to a very special week on the podcast. I am so thrilled to have you join me today for our goal setting series. It’s a journey we’re exploring together as we wrap up one year and gear up for the next.

This time of year, when the holiday buzz is still in the air and the new year is just around the corner. It’s this unique moment filled with reflection, relaxation, and maybe a little bit of uncertainty about which day of the week it is.

As we linger in this post-Christmas atmosphere, enjoying the glow of the holiday season and the excitement of our new gifts, our thoughts naturally start to drift towards the future.

What does the next year hold for us? It’s a question that we all ponder, and it’s especially pertinent for us, women in midlife. This transitional phase of life brings its own set of joys, challenges, and opportunities.

In this series, we are going to focus on setting realistic goals. Not just any goals, but goals that truly resonate with our current life stage, our health, and our personal aspirations. It’s about creating a vision for our future that’s both inspiring and achievable.

Now, let’s think about this time next year. What do you want it to look like? If you’re hoping for a change, for something different than what you’re experiencing today, it is crucial to take deliberate steps towards that future.

We are by nature, creatures of habit. And it’s so easy, so comfortable to keep doing what we’ve always done. But following the same path will likely lead us to the same result.

If you’re wanting to change for next year, if you want next year to be different, to be a year that truly counts, then this is your moment. This is your opportunity to dedicate the coming year to exploring and embracing health in all of its forms. And that’s exactly what this series is here to help you with.

Over the next four episodes, we are going to go through this journey together. We’re going to explore the process of setting realistic and meaningful goals. We’ll dive into why so many of us struggle to achieve our goals. And how we can overcome the hurdles that get in our way.

Each episode is designed to build on the last, providing you with a comprehensive guide to not just setting goals, but achieving them in a way that enriches your life and your health.

So, as we step into this week, let’s embrace the excitement and potential it holds. Let’s use this time to set the stage for a year that’s not just about reaching goals, but about growing, learning, and thriving in every aspect of our lives.

All right let’s dive into what we mean when we talk about setting realistic goals. This word realistic is thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to personal development and goal setting. But what does it actually mean, especially for women like us, women in midlife?

First, realistic is deeply personal. I can’t tell you what is realistic for you. It’s not just a one size fits all concept. What’s realistic for your friend, your neighbor, or even that version of you from five years ago, might not be realistic for you right now. And that’s okay.

This is about understanding and accepting where you are in life, in your health journey, and aligning with your goals and that reality.

In our lives, especially in midlife, we face a unique blend of challenges and opportunities. Our health, our family dynamics, and our careers, they’re all evolving.

When we set goals, we need to consider all of these aspects. It’s not just about setting a goal; it’s about setting a goal that fits into your life as your life is today.

Now, let’s talk about the difference between behavior goals and outcome goals. These are two different concepts that I talk a lot about within my coaching clients and that people get a little bit confused.

Outcome goals are those big often shiny end results that we’re aiming for. So, maybe it’s losing a certain amount of weight, or running a marathon, or achieving a specific professional milestone. Now, these are great. But they often depend on factors that can be outside of our control.

Now, on the other hand, behavior goals are about the actions that we take on a daily or weekly basis. These are the goals that we have direct control over. For example, instead of setting a goal to lose 20 pounds, which is an outcome. We can set a goal to walk for 30 minutes a day or to include vegetables in every meal.

So, these are behaviors that we do have more control over. These behavior goals are the steps that lead to the outcome. But they’re much more in control. And frankly, they are a little bit more realistic.

So, think about it this way. Setting an outcome goal without behavior goals is like wanting to travel somewhere without planning the route. You know your destination, but you have no map to get there. Behavior goals are your map. They’re the specific tangible actions that you can take every day or every week to move you closer to that desired outcome.

Now, here’s the key. When you focus on behavior goals, you create a system of habits that not only moves you towards your outcome, but also sets you up for long term success. It’s about creating a sustainable lifestyle change, not just chasing the result.

As we move forward, I want you to think about your goals in these terms. What are the daily or weekly actions, the behaviors that will lead you to your desired outcome? How can these fit into your current life and health circumstance? This shift in perspective is what makes goal setting realistic, achievable, and ultimately fulfilling.

Now, today, I want to take you on a journey through my own goal setting experience. A journey that I believe holds valuable lessons for all of us.

Now, if you remember if you’re a long time podcast listener. In episode 100 of the podcast, I started on an ambitious path. I publicly talked about my goals for the next six months, year, two years, three years, and beyond.

More recently, I revisited these goals to see how they aligned with my actual accomplishments. Now, this reflection process was not just an assessment, but a deep learning experience about what goal setting truly means and how it impacts our lives.

And what was so fascinating was some of the key learnings that I had when I revisited those old goals. When I set the goals, I had a vision of where I wanted to be. Like many of you, I had aspirations and benchmarks that I wanted to reach.

But here’s the thing. Our goals, no matter how well intentioned, are often just best guesses of what we think we can achieve in a given time frame. And that guess is completely random.

It’s about what other people think that we should be able to achieve or potentially, what we were able to achieve in the past. What this journey taught me, more than anything is the power of focusing on behaviors over outcomes.

So, let’s talk about the significance of tracking our current behaviors and making small, incremental improvements. This approach is less about dramatic overhaul and more about gradual, sustainable change.

When I looked back at my goals, I realized that the areas where I saw the most progress were those areas that I had set specific behavior goals. These weren’t lofty, far reaching targets, but rather small, manageable steps that I could integrate into my life.

For instance, rather than setting a goal to completely revamp my diet, I focused on the incremental changes. Like, not overeating or shifting out what I wanted to eat, like chocolate, for something that was a little bit healthier.

It’s these kinds of behavior modifications that add up over time. Leading to sustainable results that last far beyond the initial excitement of setting a new goal.

Next, let’s talk about failure. I know, it’s something that we don’t want to talk about. Yeah, but sometimes we fail to meet our goals within the set time frame. But that doesn’t mean that the journey is over.

Failure is not a full stop. It’s merely a comma, a pause, that invites us to reassess, and then readjust.

In my journey, there were goals that I didn’t achieve within the time frame that I had set. But instead of seeing this as a failure, I saw it as an opportunity to extend the timeline. We don’t have to stop. What we can do is keep going and continue.

If the goal is important to you, then of course you’re going to want to continue. To continue working towards those goals with renewed understanding and adjusted strategies.

Now, here’s another important realization. Sometimes what we want, changes. I’ve seen this with so many of my clients who initially come to me with specific goals like weight loss. As we work together, they often find that their priorities shift.

Now, this isn’t a failure. It’s actually growth. It’s a natural part of our journey where our goals evolve as we gain more insight into ourselves and what truly matters to us.

Changing your goal isn’t giving up, it’s adapting and it’s evolving. It’s recognizing that as we move through our life, our needs, desires, and circumstances change. And our goals must change along with them. This adaptability is a strength, not a weakness. It shows a willingness to be honest with ourselves and to align our goals with our truer selves.

So, as you consider your own goals, remember, small steps lead to big changes. Tracking and improving your current behaviors in manageable increments is far more effective than attempting to drastically change overnight.

Be open to the idea that your goals might evolve, and that’s totally okay. It’s all part of life and growth.

So, my goal setting journey taught me the importance of realistic behavior focused goals. The power of incremental change, and the value of flexibility and adaptability in our goal setting process. As we move through this series, I hope these insights will inspire and guide you in your own goal setting journey.

Now, let’s turn the focus towards you. Towards actionable steps that you can take to set your own realistic goals. This is where the rubber meets the road, where we move from theory to practice. Okay, so here’s what I want you to do. Grab a notepad or open a note on your phone because we’re going to get practical here.

Now, when it comes to setting goals, especially the realistic ones. The key here is to start where you are. Not where you think you should be, or where others are, or where others want you to be. This means taking a good, honest look at your current life. Your routines, your responsibilities, and where your health is right now. It’s about acknowledging and accepting your starting point, which is totally unique to you.

Here’s a clear, relatable example. Let’s talk about sugar. Let’s say that you’ve noticed that you’re indulging in sweets a little bit more than you would like to. The unrealistic approach would be to swear off sugar, right? To say, well, I’m just not going to have it anymore.

Now, while this might sound good on paper and in theory. It’s not only unsustainable, but it also sets you up for disappointment and failure. Instead, start by tracking how many treats that you consume on a daily basis. That’s all I want you to do. Just track it. And try not to judge it. I know that your brain is going to be like, oh, but that’s too many. Try to resist that.

After a week of tracking, review your notes. Let’s say that you find that you’re having four treats a day, okay? A realistic goal might be to reduce that to two treats a day, or three. This is a small, achievable step. It’s not about denying yourself the joy of sweets. It’s about moderation and being mindful to your consumption.

Now, here’s what I want you to do. Think of one area of your life where you want to see change. It could be related to your diet, to your physical activity, sleep, work, or even a hobby. Write down what you’re currently doing in this area.

Now, this is your baseline. Then decide one small achievable change that you can make. Write this down as your goal. So, for example, if you want to increase your physical activity and you currently don’t exercise regularly, don’t set a goal to work out every day for an hour. That’s just not realistic if you’re starting from zero.

Instead, your goal might be to take a 15 minute walk three times a week. Now, that might be realistic. It’s achievable and it sets you up for success. The goal here is progress and self-trust.

When you do this, when you set the goal to be achievable and you meet the goal, then what happens is you start to build the skill of self-trust. It’s about making small changes that you can stick with that fit into your life as it is right now. Now, these small steps will build over time, leading to significant improvements without overwhelming you.

So, take a moment now to write down that one goal. Make it specific, achievable, and relevant to your current life. And once you’ve set this goal, I want to encourage you to join, if you’re not there already, and share it in my Facebook group, “The 8 Basic Habits That Healthy Women in Midlife Do.”

It’s a totally supportive of community where you can find encouragement and accountability. This simple exercise of setting realistic goals and taking consistent small steps towards them can be incredibly empowering. It’s about taking control of your health and well-being. One small step at a time.

I want to invite you to get other people who are supportive to support you. Let’s set ourselves up for success for a year of meaningful and achievable change.

Now, before I wrap up today’s episode, I want to extend a special invitation to you. Join me in the 8 Basic Habits that Healthy Women in Midlife Do Facebook group. The link will be in the show notes.

This group isn’t just a community. It’s a support system and a place where you can find encouragement, advice, and accountability from women who are exactly the same as you. Well, not exactly the same, they’re different.

In this group, we focus on the practical aspects of healthy living, especially for women in midlife. It’s a space where you can share your goals, your successes, and even the challenges you face along the way.

Now, whether it’s a goal that you’ve written down or any other aspiration that you’re working towards, this group is here to support you.

The beauty of being part of a community like this is the accountability factor. Sometimes just knowing that there are others rooting for you, others who are looking forward to your updates, and that are there to lift you up when you stumble can make all the difference. It’s about creating a network of support, a collective of women who understand and share your aspirations.

In addition to accountability, the group is a fantastic resource for practical tips and insights. You’ll find discussions on various aspects of health and wellness, all tailored to our unique needs as women in midlife. It’s a place to learn, grow and be inspired.

So, if you’re looking for a group of like-minded women, who are committed to living their healthiest lives, this is the place for you.

All right, so as we come to a close on this first episode in the goal setting series, let’s quickly recap the key points that we’ve covered today.

We dove into what it means to set realistic goals, especially for women in midlife. Our lives are totally different than they were when we were younger. Our bodies are different. Our life circumstances are different. And so, don’t let anyone tell you, what you should and should not set for goals. Okay?

We discussed the importance of aligning our goals with our current life and health circumstances and the power of focusing on behavior goals over outcome goals. And we explored how small, incremental changes can lead to lasting and meaningful results.

The journey towards achieving your goals is a personal one. And it’s okay to adjust and adapt as you go. I’m here to guide and support you every step of the way.

So, tune in to our next episode for more insights and practical tips on understanding and overcoming common myths in goal setting. And if you ever feel like you need a little bit more support or guidance, again, don’t hesitate to reach out, join the Facebook group, or simply drop me a message.

Here’s to setting realistic goals and making them a reality.

Have an amazing day, everyone. That’s all I have for you today. Bye-bye.

Now, before I go, if you found value in our conversation today and want to dive deeper into your goals for 2024, I have something special for you. Don’t forget to join me in the live class, Your Healthiest Year, on January 8th at 12 p. m. Eastern. It’s an ideal follow up to what you’ve just heard.

We’ll explore personalized health strategies, enjoyable wellness practices, and how to align your health goals with what it is that you really want. This class is about making 2024 your healthiest year in a joyful, sustainable way. Secure your spot at elizabethsherman.com/2024. And let’s continue this transformative journey together.

Thank you for joining us on today’s episode. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of health advice out there and are looking for something straightforward, our ‘8 Basic Habits that Healthy People Do’ guide and checklist is just what you need. It breaks down essential habits into simple, actionable steps that you already know how to do. By following these habits, you’ll set yourself on a path to better health, surpassing most people you know. To get your free copy, just click the link in the show notes. It’s an easy start, but it could make all the difference in your health journey. Grab your guide today and take the first step towards a healthier you.

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