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Goal Setting Made Easy

September 18, 2017

Happy Monday, my Besties!  I hope you had a great weekend and that you were able to do something just for you.  I wish I could say I did, but I had the opportunity to serve at a Young Life camp for the weekend and it was pretty exhausting!  However, being a leader to high […]

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Happy Monday, my Besties!  I hope you had a great weekend and that you were able to do something just for you.  I wish I could say I did, but I had the opportunity to serve at a Young Life camp for the weekend and it was pretty exhausting!  However, being a leader to high school kids is one of the great privileges of my life and so my cup still managed to run over despite the sleep-deprivation!
Today I want to share a simple goal-setting system you can use anytime, for any type of change you want to make in your life.  It’s a little #mondaymotivation by the name of the Stop/Start/Continue method.  We therapists like to call it the SSC.  Just kidding…I’ve actually never heard anyone call it that, but for a minute there I sounded really official and authoritative, right? 😉
In keeping with the theme of full disclosure, I did not create the Stop/Start/Continue method, but I first read about it in this book. Amy McCready, the author, also did not invent the SSC (see, it works!).  I’m not sure who did.  But I do know this:  businesses use it, teachers use it, parenting experts use it, and yes, even we therapists use it.  Why is the SSC so amazing, you might be thinking?  Because it makes setting goals easy.  Allow me to explain. 
When I ask my clients what goals they want to work on in therapy, about 5% can answer that question directly, in just a few sentences. The remaining 95% stare at me like a deer in headlights and mutter a few things about school or work or relationships.  In essence, I’m asking them, “What do you wish was different about your life? What changes to your life would make things easier and a lot better for you?”  But I totally get it.  Those are some BIG questions.  It’s kind of like asking “what is the meaning of life?” and expecting someone to give you a polished, succinct answer in 2 minutes or less.  Not many people are wired that way (including me!) and that’s ok.
So instead of asking those big, overwhelming questions, I break it down for my clients using the SSC.  After I ask them what brings them to my office, after hearing about their life for a bit, I ask them three simple questions:
1.  What is something you currently do that you would like to stop doing?
2.  What is something you don’t currently do that you would like to start doing?
3.  What is something you are doing currently that you would like to continue doing?
And you know what’s amazing?  About 95% of people can answer those questions quite easily.  The other 5% are usually kids under 10 so the method I use for them is:  PLOTF:  Playing Legos On The Floor.  Works every time.  
Once you have your S, S, and C, make a quick plan for how you will accomplish them.  Do you need to choose a different route home from work so you don’t stop at the liquor store? Do you need to put sticky notes all over your house to remind you to use a calm voice with your kids?  Do you need accountability from a workout buddy to continue your daily sweat sessions?  Whatever it is, plan exactly what you will do to achieve your new goals.  Without a plan, you’ll basically just be hoping for progress.  
Maybe by now you’re already thinking of some things you would like to stop, start, and continue.  I hope so!  Because goal setting isn’t just for my clients…it’s for everyone.  As our lives change (and they tend to do that on the regular), we are constantly needing to adjust our mindset and behaviors to keep things running smoothly. I recommend choosing your stop, start, continue and then checking in with yourself about once a month to see what’s working and what’s not.  You will likely find the need to change your goals over time, and that’s a good thing!  Your “starts” may become your “continues” and your “continues” may eventually not make the list anymore because they have just become a habit.  Or you may find a “start” isn’t really helping you as much as you hoped and it becomes a “stop.”  That’s perfectly fine…just reevaluate and choose something else.
I hope this encourages you to give some thought to simple changes you can make to make your life better.  Once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel and how your self-esteem improves because you are just slaying your goals left and right.  
Let us know what you want to stop, start, or continue in the comments!

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