223: How to use the power of short term goals to get what you want

223: How to use the power of short term goals to get what you want

Welcome to this episode of our short daily podcast - A Slice of Therapy.

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With Alun Parry https://liverpoolpsychotherapy.co.uk

Automatically Generated Transcript

00:01
you’re listening to a slice of therapy
00:03
with me alun parry
00:06
[Music]
00:11
now imagine you enter the supermarket
00:14
for your big shop and you didn’t take a
00:17
shopping list
00:19
in fact you hadn’t even thought about
00:21
what it is that you needed
00:23
you just went to the supermarket
00:27
and as you’re going round you sort of
00:29
putting things in the basket
00:31
as you spot them and think yeah that
00:33
might be good
00:34
and every now and again you’ll remember
00:36
something and think yeah i’m sure i need
00:38
that
00:40
and then by the end of the shop you go
00:41
and you pay for your stuff and you bring
00:43
them home and then you realize
00:47
that you haven’t got most of the things
00:48
that you need
00:50
and you’ve probably got a couple of
00:51
things that you don’t need
00:54
but the shop was a bit of a disaster
00:56
because you’ve been
00:58
and yeah you still need loads and loads
01:01
of essential items
01:04
now this is the reason isn’t it why
01:07
people
01:08
will set goals and this is
01:12
one of the reasons why it looks as
01:15
though it
01:16
it’s a useful thing in terms of setting
01:18
goals because
01:19
in a sense it’s like drawing up a
01:22
shopping list but for life
01:24
rather than just the supermarket and if
01:27
you go into the supermarket without
01:28
having the slightest idea what it is
01:30
that you want you probably won’t get it
01:33
and it’s similar for life as well isn’t
01:35
it if you
01:36
were to go around with absolutely no
01:38
idea of
01:40
what it is that you actually want then
01:42
there’s a good chance you won’t get that
01:44
either
01:46
and this is one of the reasons that in
01:48
my practice when i’m working with people
01:52
trying to describe in some detail what
01:55
it is
01:56
that the person wants is really
01:59
important
02:01
even if what they’re coming in with is
02:02
is a problem
02:04
i’m always curious you know if the
02:06
problem wasn’t there
02:08
how would you know the problem was
02:09
wasn’t there if you woke up tomorrow for
02:11
instance
02:12
and the problem was gone how would you
02:14
figure that out
02:16
what would life be looking like if that
02:19
wonderful thing happened
02:21
and you were to have a day without the
02:23
problem tomorrow
02:26
and so getting clear on what we want is
02:29
really valuable the only downside with
02:33
goals though
02:36
is that we tend to
02:40
have them very much in the future
02:44
like we have one day goals
02:47
one day i’d like to do this so one day
02:50
i’d like to be that or one day
02:52
i’d like to have the other and the
02:55
problem with goals with your one day
02:57
goals
02:59
is well a couple of things really first
03:02
of all they’re so far into the distance
03:04
that we tend not to take out any action
03:06
on them
03:08
but secondly because they’re so far in
03:10
the distance
03:11
we make them so kind of
03:17
vague and even kind of outlandish
03:20
sometimes
03:21
because we know that we’re not actually
03:23
going to take the action to get to them
03:26
they’re really far away i’d really like
03:28
that but i know i’m not going to do
03:29
anything about it type of goal
03:32
and we see this every year don’t we in
03:34
new year’s resolutions
03:35
we kind of make a goal for that year
03:38
some organizations even set targets
03:42
for that year by the end of the year
03:45
we’ll have achieved this and we’ll have
03:46
achieved that and will have achieved the
03:48
other
03:50
and yet when you set a goal even for a
03:52
year ahead
03:53
a year is quite a long time isn’t it if
03:55
you think of having to get something
03:57
done by a year today
03:59
it’s quite a long time and us humans we
04:02
tend to work
04:04
better at least some of the time with
04:06
some kind of tangible deadline
04:08
and so what we’ll do in that situation
04:11
we’ll probably wait until around about
04:12
october or november
04:14
and then scramble like mad to try and
04:17
hit that target
04:20
or we’ll just let the whole thing the
04:23
whole idea drop
04:24
between now and that time
04:28
and so you can see that there’s this
04:31
kind of tug of war going on because
04:34
goals can be helpful in the sense of
04:37
establishing what it is that you
04:38
actually want
04:39
making yourself a shopping list for life
04:42
much as you would make a shopping list
04:44
for a supermarket shop and yet at the
04:47
same time the way we set goals
04:50
is kind of problematic because we kick
04:53
them so far into the future
04:56
that we never really have to do anything
04:57
about them and they can be anything at
05:00
all no matter how outlandish or vague
05:04
now in order to combat that
05:08
one of the things that i often do is
05:12
i set short-term goals
05:16
and the benefit of short-term goals is
05:21
it forces me to get to a point where i’m
05:25
really clear about what i want
05:27
it’s not just that i want something but
05:29
i get very very clear in terms of
05:32
what i’d be able to deliver by that time
05:35
and when i say short term goals
05:39
what i’m thinking about here are things
05:41
like
05:44
things like about 12 weeks in advance
05:48
so making your year be just three months
05:50
long
05:51
and give yourself a target now 12 weeks
05:53
goes quite quickly
05:55
and yet you’ve got 12 weeks in order to
05:59
actually achieve something meaningful
06:01
whatever that happens to be
06:03
for you now one of the difficult things
06:07
i suppose in terms of coming up with
06:11
these goals is trying to think
06:13
of what your target might actually be
06:16
there’s an old study and you can try it
06:18
yourself anytime you know
06:20
if i were to give you 10 seconds and say
06:22
right just name 10 things
06:24
your mind will probably go blank and
06:26
you’d name fewer things than if i’d said
06:29
name 10 things that are in my fridge
06:32
there’s a weird thing about getting
06:34
specific that just gives your brain a
06:36
bit of a jump start
06:38
and even though in the first example i’m
06:40
giving you the whole world to choose
06:41
from
06:42
by telling you that it’s 10 things in my
06:44
fridge you just get started straight
06:46
away
06:47
and you name many many more things
06:51
it’s a interesting thing really
06:54
so in order to help you out in terms of
06:57
thinking about
06:58
the things that you might want what i
07:01
tend to do is work
07:02
with nine different categories
07:06
so i’ll tell you what those nine are
07:08
because then you can kind of scribble
07:09
them down
07:10
and then have a little think if there’s
07:11
anything in that area that you would
07:13
like
07:15
and then you’ll be able to look at what
07:17
you can actually deliver
07:19
within 12 weeks now in some areas you
07:21
won’t necessarily want to change
07:22
anything
07:23
or want to set a target there so i’ll
07:26
leave this up to you but
07:27
these are the nine that i kind of use
07:31
the first is career like what is it you
07:34
would like
07:35
in your career if anything
07:38
friendship is there any improvement that
07:41
you’d like
07:42
in the area of friendship how about
07:45
finances maybe there’s
07:49
something that you’d like to change in
07:51
that area where you get
07:52
access to more income
07:56
or perhaps it’s health and fitness
08:00
or your intimate relationship
08:04
so how it is between you and a close
08:07
partner for instance is there anything
08:09
there that you’d like differently or how
08:12
about where you live
08:14
like your home environment not just in
08:16
terms of what area
08:18
that you live in but what’s it like to
08:20
live in your place
08:23
i mentioned in a recent podcast that i
08:25
was a bit grumpy because
08:27
my living room was a bit untidy so
08:30
that’d be a good example of
08:31
where i live then in terms of learning
08:35
and growth
08:36
perhaps there’s something that you want
08:37
to learn you know
08:39
something you’d like to study or a new
08:41
skill you’d like to pick up
08:44
and then what about fun and joy
08:48
where’s the fun in your enjoying life
08:50
and is there something that you’d like
08:52
to
08:52
do more of in that area and then finally
08:56
creativity
08:59
now there might be something that i’ve
09:00
missed out there because these are the
09:02
nine that i use for me but it’s just as
09:04
a starting point
09:05
so if you know that there’s something
09:06
that’s really been missed out that’s
09:08
important to you
09:09
you can add that category in as well and
09:12
it’s just a short list really career
09:14
friendship finances health and fitness
09:18
intimate relationships where you live
09:21
learning and growth fun and joy
09:24
and finally creativity that just gives
09:27
you a little guide
09:29
to decide what is it that you actually
09:31
want
09:32
in life in that area because when you
09:36
know that
09:38
you can then start to look
09:42
at which things that you could actually
09:45
deliver in 12 weeks you see it makes it
09:48
real because you can’t really
09:51
overshoot too much the key is not to
09:54
make a rod for your own back but let’s
09:55
say for instance
09:56
as i do i’d like to lose a little bit of
09:58
weight we’ve just had this
10:00
covered pandemic and i’ve put a few
10:02
pounds on so i’m thinking to myself i
10:04
wouldn’t mind
10:05
losing a bit of weight so under health
10:07
and fitness that might be a target for
10:09
me
10:10
and so then i say to myself well what is
10:13
a reasonable target
10:15
that i really am pretty confident that i
10:17
could deliver on
10:19
in just 12 weeks now obviously i could
10:23
really push myself but the aim isn’t to
10:25
push myself
10:26
the aim is to kind of pretty much
10:28
guarantee that i’m going to deliver this
10:30
thing
10:32
because after all if i do deliver it
10:33
that will be an improvement in life
10:35
and that’s a good thing we don’t need to
10:38
aim for
10:39
perfection or some sort of superhuman
10:41
effort
10:42
just an improvement in life within that
10:44
12-week period
10:45
so i might look at that and say well i
10:48
could probably do six or seven pounds in
10:50
a 12-week period
10:51
and be pretty confident of actually
10:54
pulling that off
10:56
and so you can see that what happens
10:58
here is
11:00
rather than say oh i’d like to lose
11:02
weight one day
11:03
oh oh i’d really like to weigh 12 stone
11:06
one day
11:08
throwing some sort of target out into
11:10
the ether
11:12
what that means is that i never ever
11:14
action it
11:15
whereas when i look just 12 weeks in
11:17
advance
11:19
i’m able to see something which is much
11:21
more possible
11:23
and then it gives me something to work
11:25
towards
11:26
like i say we’re better with deadlines
11:29
aren’t we
11:30
than just in the never never and so
11:33
working towards that 12-week deadline
11:35
gives me something
11:36
soon to aim for rather than
11:41
some point in the far distance
11:45
and so there’s a real power then to
11:48
these short term goals because not only
11:50
does it
11:50
identify what you want
11:54
but it means that you get focused
11:58
and you start taking action on
12:01
delivering something
12:03
that is capable of being delivered
12:04
within a 12-week period
12:06
it forces us to ask the question well
12:09
what is it that is possible
12:11
for me to do in this area to improve
12:15
life and by asking that question it gets
12:19
us
12:20
very very specific
12:25
and so the things that we actually want
12:27
in life the shopping list
12:29
that we were talking about at the start
12:32
actually becomes something
12:34
that we can deliver on and so there’s a
12:37
lot of
12:38
power in this in terms of life change
12:40
which doesn’t
12:42
involve you having any kind of huge
12:44
superhuman effort
12:46
but just involves you making some steps
12:48
forward
12:49
in that particular area so let me just
12:53
recap then we look didn’t we at the
12:54
importance of having a shopping list
12:56
for life just like a shopping list for
12:59
the supermarket
13:01
and we looked at how often even in the
13:03
therapy room
13:04
i find it really important to try and
13:07
flesh out what a person wants
13:10
because once we know what we want we’re
13:12
more likely to get it
13:14
and yet the downside of goals is that
13:16
we’ll tend to kick them into the long
13:18
grass
13:19
and say i’d like that one day and we
13:22
really mean that that will happen on the
13:23
12th of never
13:25
and so we don’t action it because we
13:26
don’t have a deadline
13:28
and it’s too distant and too woolly for
13:30
us really to be focused on it
13:34
but if we give ourselves a short term
13:36
goal
13:37
like say 12 weeks away
13:40
it means that what we do is that we
13:43
start to really
13:44
focus our attention on what can be
13:46
delivered and how we can deliver it
13:49
and there’s lots of different areas that
13:52
you could look at but i suggested and i
13:54
nine particular areas that you might
13:56
want to look at to see if there’s any
13:58
goals
13:59
or things that you want in life that
14:02
could be delivered within the next 12
14:03
weeks
14:04
we looked at career friendship finances
14:08
health and fitness intimate relationship
14:11
where you live learning and growth
14:15
employment and creativity
14:18
so my invite to you is to have a little
14:20
think through those categories
14:23
is there anything that you want in life
14:26
is there anything that would improve
14:27
life in that area
14:29
and once you’ve identified it think what
14:32
could be delivered
14:34
within 12 weeks not that would require a
14:36
superhuman effort
14:38
but that you’re pretty confident that
14:40
you could deliver in a 12-week period
14:44
you see once you know what that is you
14:46
get a realistic target then
14:48
and once you’ve got a realistic target
14:51
it’s easier to understand
14:53
how you can actually get from this point
14:55
to that point
14:57
in that short amount of time and so
15:00
hopefully by doing this
15:01
in 12 weeks time you’ll have noticed
15:05
some really decent improvements in life
15:08
you’ll have noticed that you’ve moved
15:10
from here to a slightly better place
15:14
so if you like this idea then please
15:16
spread it around if you want to work
15:17
with me directly
15:19
i’m alun parry you can work with me
15:20
one-to-one you’ll find out more at
15:22
liverpool psychotherapy dot co dot uk
15:25
although i work online so it doesn’t
15:27
matter what your location is
15:29
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15:31
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15:32
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15:34
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15:35
i’ll be back again tomorrow with another
15:38
one

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