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Goal Setting: How to Set Behaviour-Based Goals

wellness Jun 23, 2022

A big part of any wellness journey is setting goals. It’s impossible to know what you’re looking to achieve if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want your end results to be. The challenge with goal setting is that goals can feel lofty, out of reach or insurmountable when you’re first starting out. The goal setting phase can easily be the most daunting, because clearly defining what you’re setting out to do is often harder to put into words than you think.

Most people set goals in an end-result fashion. Goals are less defined and can be as varied as wanting to eat healthier, drink more water, exercise more and so on. These goals cast a wide net, and don’t really provide any direction for the goal setter. Knowing how to achieve these goals requires behaviour changes, which is why setting behaviour-based goals in tandem with a result-based goal allows for greater for success.

Let’s break this down. Let’s say your overarching goal is to drink more water. This is the end result that you are looking for, but how are you planning to get there? By setting several behavioural goals, you can break down your larger goal into smaller parts, which are more defined and more achievable. An example of this breakdown could look something like this:

End result: Drink more water

Behaviour Goals:

  • Drink 1 glass of water first thing in the morning before starting the day
  • Drink 1 glass of water with lunch
  • Drink 1 glass of water mid-afternoon in place of your afternoon coffee (or even with it!)

What’s great with behaviour-based goals is that they can be stacked onto existing habits in order to make them more achievable. Having goals built around existing activities like waking up in the morning (which everyone inevitably does at some point) or having your afternoon coffee will help to create habits out of the goal achieving actions. Another way of looking at this is called ‘habit stacking’, taking an existing habit and adding on the behavioural goal that will help you to achieve your results goal.

Yes, this can sound complicated, but when you break it down into smaller parts, it can really change the way you approach your wellness goals. This formula is one that has been used in different forms and formulas by various health coaches over the years as well. The method is tried and true because instead of trying to completely change or reformat someone’s way of living their life, behaviours are added onto existing ones, to help remind and reinforce.

If this approach has resonated with you, a great way to start is by taking a piece of paper and just writing out all your result goals. Once your result goals are defined, start with one or two of those end goals, and define 2-3 small behaviours that you feel confident you can action. If the behaviour feels too big or out of reach, shift to another behaviour that feels more achievable. Once you have your behaviours, see if you can stack them onto existing routines or habits that you already have. Voila! Your goals are set!

 Article by: Michelle Levine. @michlwellness

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