The theme for our first Psoriasis Action Month is “Set goals, take control.”
It’s great to have a catchy theme, but how do you actually set and achieve goals?
To answer this question, we turned to our go-to guy for motivation and goal-setting: Dr. Will Meek, a counseling psychologist based in Vancouver, Washington, who has written extensively on this subject. Here are his four tips for a quick start:
1. Pick a limited number of goals.
“Research shows that two to three goals should be your maximum,” Meek said. “People who narrow their goals down are more likely to succeed than people who try to do it all. This is why we so often fail at New Year’s resolutions. Ten resolutions are overwhelming. Two are doable.”
Which goals should you choose? “The ones that are most needed, or the ones you’re most likely to do,” Meek explained. If your main problem is your weight, for example, start by eating differently and getting more exercise. Or if you don’t like exercising alone but you do like working out in a group, stick with a group.
2. Make your goals achievable.
Meek believes that our main problem in setting goals is that they often are too big or too vague. “‘My goal is to go to the gym twice a day’ is a good example of the first one,” he explained. “How many people can set aside the time to exercise that often? ‘My goal is to eat a better diet’ is an example of the second. What does ‘a better diet’ mean, and how will you get there? Unrealistic goals set us up to fail, not succeed.
"Be honest with yourself,” Meek said. “Are you more likely to hike a hundred miles a day or just try to get outside and move more?” He also suggested being as specific as possible. For example, “I will go to the gym three times a week for 30 minutes each time.”
3. Keep going, no matter what.
Did you suffer a setback or miss a target? Don’t give up! Sure, today you blew your diet with those donuts, or you didn’t get to the gym because you had to drive your children to their after-school activities and then it was too late in the day.
“Immediately recommit after a slip-up,” Meek said. “Tell yourself, ‘Yes, I could’ve done better today, but I’ll do better tomorrow.’”
Remember: If your goal for the month is to lose 5 pounds, but you slip up here and there and instead you lose 3 pounds, it’s still a win. “You still achieved something. Your life is better,” Meek pointed out.
4. Your attitude is your biggest ally.
“Research on attitude all points to the value of ‘positive self-talk,’” Meek said. Examples of positive self-talk are “I can do this” and “This is good for me.”
“Make something like that your mantra,” Meek said. “A goal-focused attitude is important for sustaining effort. You are, in effect, internalizing the support your best friend would give you.”
In part 2 of this special Psoriasis Action Month series, we’ll apply the ideas of goal-setting specifically to psoriasis. Bonus: The exclusive results of the Patient Navigation Center's July poll, where we asked our community to share their top health goals!
The opinions expressed by NPF Blog contributors are their own and do not reflect the opinions or positions of the National Psoriasis Foundation. The information posted on the NPF Blog is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice.
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