For clinicians in (or going into) private practice, goals are essential. But goal-setting can be tricky and even downright intimidating. Often, even the most well-intentioned planners fall into one of two camps. First, there are the ambitious go-getters who start January with a huge list of goals that ends up being overwhelming (not helpful and ripe for burnout opportunities). On the other end of the spectrum are the goal avoiders. People in this camp don’t necessarily want to ignore’s more likely that they want to avoid the fear of failing or not measuring up. Oftentimes, in this camp, that inner perfectionist haunts them with whispers like “what if I don’t achieve them.”  Let’s be honest, we’ve all fallen into one (if not both) of these camps at some point.

In today’s blog, I’d like to introduce a third camp: authentic goal-setting. If you started this year as a goal avoider, it’s not too late to set goals that align with your core values as we look ahead into next year. And if you already set several goals, let’s talk about how you can keep yourself on track and accountable for the dreams you envisioned? 

Getting Started With Goal-Setting

We often think of goal setting as something that must be done on January 1st at the stroke of midnight. But the truth is, it’s never too late to set goals. Telling yourself that you’ve missed the boat on goal-setting only pushes you further away from your dream of a successful, sustainable private practice. You haven't missed the boat. There's no deadline. You can start today.

If you tend to avoid goal setting, start by using the word “intention” instead of the word “goal.” A goal is something external — something in the future that you have to strive towards.  Sometimes we can think very black and white about goals; we either achieve them or we failed. An intention, however, is a more fluid state of mind — an internal commitment to yourself for working towards what you truly want. With intentions there can be more “breathing room” as you chip away towards your vision.  See the difference?  An intention empowers you to slowly take steps towards a big dream.

There’s a lot of talk these days about “smart goals;” goals that are thought to be more attainable because they are specific and measurable. That’s a practical approach. But I tell my Primed Practice clients to think both practically and with their hearts. I love using the CLEAR Goals framework, allowing you to leverage a more connected approach that honors your emotions, your passions and values (after all, you are passionate about what you do - emotions ARE a part of the journey). When you read your goals out loud, they should sound like you. This practice of looking within has been trained out of many of us who are encouraged to think in terms of metrics and results.  Metrics and results are necessary; however, most people find that they are more motivated to succeed when their intentions are aligned with their core values. From this perspective, it’s not just the end result that matters, but also the journey you take towards that outcome. When goal setting comes from within, you grow as a person along with your practice. Likewise, your practice grows in alignment with what principles you believe are most important!

Revisiting Goals You’ve Already Set

If you’ve set goals but haven’t made progress towards meeting those goals, you’re not alone! Instead of being hard on yourself, talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a client or someone you care about. Ask yourself:

  • Am I being self-compassionate or harsh with myself?
  • Am I talking to myself the way I would talk to a friend or loved one?
  • Can I be curious here (rather than beating up on myself)? What feels hard about these aspirations? How could I approach them differently?

Take your own clinical advice and remind yourself that you’re more likely to get unstuck by treating yourself with compassion and understanding.  Sometimes we believe if we’re harsh with ourselves we’ll “get it together,” but this is the biggest DEMOTIVATOR out there! 

If positive self-talk isn’t enough to get you motivated, consider reaching out to a friend or colleague who can help you with accountability. An accountability buddy can help you reframe or prioritize your goals according to where you are with your private practice.

Finally, be sure you have an effective tool like The Primed Planner  to help you plan, track and slay your progress! Other useful accountability tools might be online accountability apps or even a simple notebook for taking notes and checking in with your own growth. The tools will be different for different people, but it is important to build a system that helps you move towards your intentions.

Finally, make sure you’re giving yourself ample credit for how far you’ve already come! Sometimes we are so focused on the next goal that we forget to celebrate our success or worse yet, we dismiss it all together! So, if you’re feeling stuck about goal setting, start by writing down a detailed list of all the amazing things you’ve already accomplished.

Need a little extra guidance on how to get moving on your intentions? Reach out today to set up a free 20-minute chat about what you need to get PRIMED!!

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