If you're like just about everybody else in the world, you probably have a variety of different goals and aspirations. You might not even think of them as “goals,” but everyone can think of certain things in their life that they want to change or achieve.
These include things you'd like to learn, activities you'd like to do, and career milestones you'd like to reach. Your goals can also include things you'd like to improve about yourself, such as your exercise habits, your sleeping schedule, or your ability to stick to a routine.
If you have a chronic lung disease like COPD, goal-setting can also be an effective tool for managing your disease. By helping you establish better habits related to your physical, social, and mental health, setting goals can help you live a happier, healthier life with COPD.
In fact, doctors of patients with COPD often recommend that their patients set goals for healthy lifestyle changes like losing weight, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking. If you can push yourself to achieve those goals, it can make a significant difference in your symptoms, your physical endurance, and your risk for serious health complications.
That's why, in this post, we're going to show you how to use goal-setting techniques to improve your health and overall wellness while living with a chronic lung condition like COPD. We'll teach you how to create goals that are smart, effective, and guide you toward success.
We'll show you how to define your goals clearly and flesh them out in a way that makes it easy to plan and track your progress. Then, we'll show you how to use those goals as a roadmap to achieving—and maintaining—a better quality of life with COPD.
Goal-Setting for COPD
As just about anyone living with severe COPD can tell you, COPD is a disease that can impact every part of your life. It can affect your energy, your mobility, your daily routine, and even your mental and emotional health.
That's why goal-setting is so important; it allows you to take back control of your life and adjust to the many changes that COPD brings. It can give you that extra edge you need attain the things you want in life in spite of all the ways that COPD can make things more difficult.
Most importantly, knowing how to set effective goals can help you make important habit changes that are vital for maintaining your health and managing your disease. That includes things like eating healthy, quitting smoking, and keeping up with your COPD treatments; a good goal-setting strategy can make all of these things much easier to achieve.
The Benefits of Goal-Setting
It's one thing to know what you want or what you need, but it's quite another thing to actually be able to get there. That's the point of goal-setting: to write down all the things you'd like to (or need to) do in a way that makes them easier to reference and work toward.
Essentially, goal-setting is a method for clarifying your long-term wants and needs and breaking them down into simple steps. It's a useful structure for turning the ideas in your head into practical goals that you can take action on.
The process of goal-setting forces you to think about your goals from a different perspective and come up with strategies you can use to make progress. It also steers you toward action, by acting as a roadmap to guide you through the steps to meet your goals.
Here are some of the main benefits of goal-setting (pdf link):
- Improved motivation
- Improved self-confidence and self-image
- Increased chance of reaching your goals
- Helps you set priorities and identify what's important to you
- Helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses
- Helps you track your progress and build on success
- Helps you focus on what's realistic and what you have power to change
- Serves as a guideline for how to achieve your goals
Goal-setting can be particularly helpful for people with COPD, who often have to manage a plethora of medications, treatments, and lifestyle changes in order to maintain their health. The goal-setting process can help you sort through all those responsibilities and set up a structure to keep you on track.
But you don't have to just take our word for it. Most experts agree that going through the goal-setting process (which we'll teach you in this post) is an effective way to achieve and make progress in many areas of life.
For example, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Psychology names goal-setting theory as “among the most valid and useful theories of motivation of organizational behavior.” This claim is backed up by a meta-analysis of research studies on goal-setting and behavior changes, which concludes that goal setting is “an effective behavior change technique that has the potential to be considered a fundamental component of successful [psychological] interventions.”
Another study looked specifically at patients with COPD, and whether or not the SMART goal-setting method (which we'll discuss in more detail below) could help them reach their physical activity goals. The results were encouraging; after twenty weeks of working toward those goals with the help of weekly counseling sessions, patients showed measurable improvements in their physical endurance and reduced shortness of breath.
You can use goal-setting to achieve all sorts of things, including:
- Creating better health and lifestyle habits
- Maintaining healthy habits you already have
- Adjusting to new treatments and routines
- Tracking and improving your COPD symptoms
- Keeping up with medications and treatments
- Getting rid of unhealthy habits like smoking
- Reducing your risk for exacerbations
- Budgeting and saving for things you desire (e.g. travel, entertainment, and possessions)
- Funding important needs (e.g. medical equipment, bills, and debt)
- Just about any other thing (that's realistic) you would like to do, have, or achieve.
Some of your goals will come from your own personal desires, and some may originate from other sources, like work, family, or your doctor. But by going through the process of goal-setting, you make those goals your own and define them in a way that's useful and personal to you.
Making Your Goals Effective
Coming up with goals in general might seem easy, but it takes a little more effort to create practical goals that work. If you want your goals to help you move forward, you need to take the time to define and develop them fully.
If your goals are too broad or vague, for example, it will be hard to find a starting point and make meaningful progress toward your goals. It's hard to move forward when you don't have a clear path to follow or an obvious objective to reach.
On the other hand, goals with a narrower scope are much easier to achieve. When you know exactly what you're working toward, it's much easier to take action and figure out what you need to do to achieve your goal.
Fortunately, there's an established method known as "SMART gaol-setting" that you can use to create more effective goals.
The SMART goal-setting method is recommended by experts in a variety of different fields, including business, psychology, academia, healthcare, and even COPD Treatment (PDF link). That's why we are going to use this technique as a baseline throughout this guide.
Essentially, the SMART method defines a certain set of criteria that all of your goals ought to meet. The purpose of these criteria is to guide you through the goal-setting process and ensure that your goals are useful, actionable, and easy to understand.
To make them simple to remember, each criterion for a SMART goal corresponds to one of the letters in the SMART acronym.
SMART goals must be...
Using the SMART criteria can help you clarify your goals and define them in practical, concrete terms. Smart goals not only tell you what you want to achieve, but they give you direction for how to achieve them, too.
Let's take a closer look at each of the main criteria for a SMART goal.
First, it's important to be specific about what exactly it is that you want to achieve. Vague statements and general ideas just won't cut it; you need a clearly-defined goal that tells you precisely what you're working toward.
For example, “I want to improve my diet” is a vague goal that doesn't give you an obvious path forward. In order to make it better and easier to accomplish, you need to narrow it down and specify what it is about your diet that you'd like to change.
In many cases, you can break down a vague goal into several different, more specific goals. For example, you could turn “I want to improve my diet” into “I want to achieve a better balance nutritional balance of protein, carbs, and fat” or “I want to limit myself to one snack per day” instead.
Second, your goal should be measurable, as in it needs to be bound by clear criteria that let you know when you've actually met the goal. This requires you to be clear and precise about what your end goal is.
For example, “Spend more time with family” isn't exactly measurable; it doesn't specify how much time you need to spend with your family in order to achieve your goal. On the other hand, “Spend one hour of quality time with family every day” is something you can actually measure and work toward on a day-to-day basis.
Some goals just aren't realistic. If you set a goal you cannot reasonably achieve, then you'll just be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
That's why it's important to set goals that you think you can realistically attain. That doesn't mean you have to aim low, but it does mean you need to consider whether or not you have the skills, physical ability, and basic disposition that are required to meet your goals.
This is particularly important to consider for health and physical goals, especially if you have COPD. While you can still make improvements to your health, you may need to work with your doctor and carefully consider any physical limitations you have throughout the process of crafting your goals.
In some cases, you can make your goal more attainable simply by gathering more information or learning a new skill. In other cases, you may need to re-frame your goal or change it to something more modest or more suitable to your abilities.
For example, lets say you have severe COPD and you're trying to improve your physical strength. If you currently struggle to make it up a flight of stairs, then “Running a mile every day” might not be a realistic goal to start with.
It's better to start smaller, with goals you know you can achieve, such as taking a 20 minute walk every day. You can always change your goal or add more later, or set another, higher goal once you've achieved the one you already set.
It's important to keep your goals focused and relevant to the things you want to achieve. In other words, you want to make sure that your goals make sense, and that they will actually be able to move you toward the things you want and need.
For example, lets say you're setting some goals to make your living space more accommodating to your mobility needs. “Re-arrange the living room furniture to create more open floor space” might be a relevant goal, while “Installing the new curtains,” even if it's needed, isn't exactly relevant to the problem you're currently trying to solve.
Finally, effective goals should be time-bound, which simply means that you should specify a time frame for achieving your goals. It could be a deadline, like a due date for a project, or it could be a specific interval like “every day” or “once a week” that you are supposed to complete your goal.
This helps you stay focused on taking action and moving forward rather than procrastinating or putting your goals off to the future. It also helps you plan out your objectives and evaluate how well you are progressing over time.
Goals Versus Objectives
Understanding the distinction between goals and objectives is important for effective goal-setting. The main difference is this: Goals are the big things you want to achieve, while objectives are smaller steps along the way to reaching goals.
Goals represent an endpoint, they tell you where you're trying to go. Objectives tell you how to get there; they define specific actions you need to take in order to reach your goals.
Part of the process of goal-setting is coming up with some smaller objectives to go along with each of your goals. You can do this by breaking your goal down into smaller, simpler chunks and writing down the specific actions that will help you achieve it.
Your list of objectives should give you a solid foundation to start from; it is essentially your action plan for how to reach your goal. With all the steps you need to take already laid out in front of you, you'll find that it's much easier to make forward progress.
How to Set Objectives
Coming up with specific objectives to match your goals requires thoughtfulness and precision. In many ways, it's an exercise in planning ahead and paying attention to detail.
Just like your goals, your objectives are personal and should be tailored to your unique environment and needs. Think of them as the building blocks of your own unique strategy for pushing yourself toward your goals.
Because of this, your objectives need to take into account the resources available to you as well as any personal characteristics that could affect how you approach your goals. That includes things like your current knowledge, skills, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and limitations.
For example, if one of your goals is to start a new hobby, you'll need to consider a wide range of factors in order to come up with realistic objectives. You'll need to consider your weekly schedule, your current knowledge (and gaps in knowledge) about the hobby, what kinds of resources (e.g. hobby stores and social clubs) are available where you live, and more.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you narrow down your objectives:
- What tasks do I have to complete before I can reach my goal?
- Do I have all the knowledge and information I need to complete my goal?
- Do I need to learn any new skills to complete my goal?
- Do I need any specific supplies or equipment to reach my goal?
- What kinds of tools or resources (including people) might be able to assist me in reaching my goal?
Here's an example to illustrate what the process of coming up with objectives might look like.
Let's say that your general goal is to get more physical activity. More specifically, your SMART goal is to exercise for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
Once you've defined that goal, try to picture what working toward that goal would actually look like. What kinds of exercises could you do? How will it fit into your schedule? Is there any specific knowledge or supplies will you need?
For instance, if you're not experienced with exercise, your first objective might be to figure out how to get started. More specifically, your objective could be to do research on how to exercise safely and effectively or to ask your doctor for advice on beginning a new physical activity regimen.
If you have COPD, then symptoms like shortness of breath might be factors that influence your exercise objectives. If physical activity makes it difficult to breathe, then learning some new skills to help you manage your breathing while you exercise might be a good first step toward your goal.
You could, for example, make it one of your objectives to join a pulmonary rehabilitation class, practice breathing exercises, or to use mucus clearance techniques before you work out. Another objective could be exercising on days when your energy levels are highest, or working with your doctor to figure out how to manage your breathing symptoms better.
Choosing Goals that Matter to You
Everyone has desires and aspirations, but no two people's goals are exactly the same. Your career, lifestyle, physical health, and your own unique desires all help shape the things you want to achieve.
When you are living with a chronic health condition like COPD, some of those goals are probably influenced by your disease. These can include personal aspirations for your health and the things your doctor recommends that you do to manage your disease.
In order to choose a set of goals that is right for you, you will need to put some real thought into what you want and need in your life. Think about what you'd like to improve about your body, your mind, your social life, your living space, and your overall well-being.
It's important to care for all of these different aspects of your lifestyle in order to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. Through goal-setting, you can help yourself achieve a better balance and even better manage your COPD symptoms.
However, you shouldn't overwhelm yourself or try to tackle everything at once. If you pile on too many changes too fast, you might find it difficult to make progress on any of your goals.
Instead, try to focus on just a few major goals at a time, choosing the things that are the most urgent, beneficial, and important to you in life. You can always add more as you go, once you've mastered a previous goal or you reach a point where you're sure you can handle the extra work.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you define and narrow down your goals:
- What does this specific area of my life (social, physical health, mental health, etc.) look like in a typical day/week/month? What, in general, would I like to change? (E.g. I feel anxious and worried every day, and I'd like to feel calm and content more often.)
- What are some specific things that I can change or improve? (E.g. I'd like to get rid of my anxiety, cope with stress better, and be able to relax and sleep easier at night.)
- Which of these goals is most important for my health and overall well-being? (E.g. Getting rid of my anxiety and getting better sleep are my top priorities.)
- Are these goals reasonable and realistic? (E.g. I may not be able to “cure” or get rid of my anxiety forever, so perhaps I should adjust my expectations and strive to reduce my anxiety, instead.)
- Why do I want to achieve these goals? Why are they so important to me? (E.g. It will make it easier to enjoy life, manage my responsibilities, and keep up with healthy habits.)
Keep these questions in mind as you go through the next sections, where we'll discuss some of the major goal-setting categories you should consider and how they relate to COPD. For each category, we'll lay out some practical guidelines for identifying your goals and give you a variety of examples of what those goals could be.
You might notice that not all of the goals we give in our examples are SMART; that's because they're just meant to give you a general idea of some things your goals could address. SMART goals are personal; you'll need to specify them according your unique needs and timeline to really put them to use.
Physical Health Goals
An important goal that most people with COPD share is maintaining and improving their physical health. Because COPD is a chronic, degenerative condition, it takes constant effort to keep your lungs and body strong.
Fortunately, setting clear and specific physical health goals can help guide and bolster your efforts to manage your disease and live the best quality of life possible. Without them, it would be difficult or impossible to make the healthy lifestyle changes recommended by doctors and experts for people with COPD.
To identify your personal health goals, think about what you'd like to improve about your body and your habits surrounding your health. You should also work with your doctor, who can help you prioritize your goals and focus on the aspects of your health that you can actually control.
For example, you can't get rid of your COPD or reverse the course of the disease, but you can set goals to help you manage your symptoms better. Things like improving your diet, your personal hygiene, your exercise habits, or reaching a certain weight are all ways you can boost your health and even improve your ability to breathe.
Here are some examples of goals related to physical health:
- Change your diet to include more nutritious foods and fewer unhealthy foods.
- Take your medications on time every day.
- Walk a certain number of steps or miles every week.
- Work with a physical trainer to improve your strength and endurance.
- Quit smoking or reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke.
- Count and regulate your calories to achieve a healthy weight.
- Use COPD treatments (e.g. oxygen therapy, mucus clearance techniques) more consistently.
- Practice better sleeping habits.
- Develop and follow a consistent workout routine.
- Practice breathing exercises to improve your breathing efficiency.
Mental Health Goals
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and often the two are closely intertwined. In fact, it's quite common for people with COPD to suffer from psychological conditions like depression and anxiety.
However, just like you can train your body to be stronger, you can train your brain and your thought patterns to be healthier if you put in the practice and time. Though goal-setting, you can identify those negative patterns, make a long-term commitment to change, and help yourself stay focused on the effort day by day.
Even if you don't have a diagnosed mental disorder, the stress and hardship of living with a chronic disease can cause a lot of emotional and psychological strain. Because of this, all people with COPD and other chronic health conditions should be particularly diligent about looking after their mental well-being.
To do this, you need to set realistic psychological health goals aimed at keeping your mind and brain healthy. These can include goals for better self-care, for coping with stressors, or for managing an existing mental disorder like depression.
However, in order to come up with meaningful mental health goals, you need to be ready to do some deep and honest introspection. Unfortunately, mental health is quite complex by nature, and it can be challenging to come up with goals and objectives to meet them on your own.
That's why it's a good idea to get a psychologist, counselor, or therapist to help you through the process. They can help you understand your goals better, set useful and effective objectives, and help you learn new skills and strategies that can help you reach those goals.
Here are some examples of goals related to mental health:
- Reduce symptoms of a mental disorder like anxiety or depression.
- Make time to practice self-care every day.
- Join a support group for people with COPD and other respiratory diseases.
- Work with a therapist to manage health-related anxiety.
- Learn new skills to cope with worry and stress.
- Exercise your brain and body to protect yourself from COPD-related cognitive decline.
- Learn to control negative thoughts and think more positively.
Social and Relationship Goals
The ability to socialize and develop relationships is not just a bonus in life; it's a vital part of being a happy and healthy human being. Even the most isolated and introverted among us can benefit from communicating with others and building meaningful relationships.
That's why it's important to set goals for your social life and relationships as part of your efforts to improve or maintain your quality of life. This applies especially to people with advanced COPD, who often feel isolated by their disease and find it more difficult to leave home.
But even if you struggle to get out and socialize, you can still find ways to maintain social relationships and even build new ones. It might take some extra effort, but that's exactly what goal setting is for.
Through the process of goal setting, you can better define what your social needs are and what relationships are most important to you. Then, you can set clear objectives to help you keep up with social engagements and take specific actions to keep the relationships in your life strong.
Social goals can be big or small; you don't have to find a life partner or a huge group of friends to be happy. You goals should reflect your unique personality and preferences, including your communication style and how much social energy you have in a typical day or week.
Your goal could be as complex as putting together a hobby club, or as simple as keeping in touch with a family member you care about. Just make sure to focus on the kinds of communication and activities that you are comfortable with; don't feel pressured by others' or society's expectations.
For example, if you are a reserved or isolated person, you might prefer not to socialize too often or with people you don't know. That's perfectly fine, and you can align your personal goals and objectives with the level of social interaction you prefer.
You should also consider your social needs as they relate to your physical and mental health. For example, having a strong social support system can make it much easier to cope with living with COPD.
Social goals can also include fostering relationships where you can ask for help, especially if you have limited mobility or severe COPD symptoms. That could mean joining a COPD support group, reaching out to family and friends, or finding a caretaker you can trust to listen to your needs.
Here are some examples of goals related to social well-being:
- Call a friend or family member at least once per week.
- Become an active participant in a club or organization.
- Have a get-together with friends or family every month.
- Make a direct effort to mingle and socialize with coworkers.
- Say “yes” more often to social invitations.
- Start a book club with friends.
- Use social media to stay in closer contact with friends and family.
- Plan more frequent outings to public places where you can be around other people (e.g. parks and other public gathering spots).
Home & Organization Goals
In some ways, your living space reflects who you are, but it also influences how you live. Any space you live or work in regularly can affect your mood, your psyche, and the shape of your daily routines.
That's why, as you think about your personal goals, you should consider the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that your living spaces impact your life. That includes your home, your car, your work space, and any other places you spend your time.
You can start by teasing out some specific aspects of those spaces that make you uncomfortable or disrupt your daily activities. For instance, maybe there's just a small inconvenience that's been getting to you, or a project you've been putting off that's weighing on your mind.
Addressing those minor annoyances in your environment can make a huge difference in your life, and even make it easier to live with COPD. It can help you save energy, reduce stress, and streamline your routine so you can conserve as much strength as possible throughout the day.
In order to set your personal organization goals, start by putting some thought into how the different spaces in your home are arranged. How does the layout and organization of items in your home affect your ability to do tasks around the house?
For instance, you might experience unnecessary breathlessness and fatigue if you're always bending down to reach low shelves or have to travel up and down the stairs frequently. With the right goals and objectives, however, you can begin to create more practical and comfortable living spaces.
First, make a list of all the problems and annoyances in your environment you can think of, then pick out the things that are most solvable, or the things that you have some control over to change. Finally, brainstorm some ways you can address those issues and minimize their negative impact on your life.
For instance, let's say the shelves in your closet are too low to reach comfortably, and you find yourself straining to use them often. Potential solutions include installing shelves at a better height, moving the items on the shelves to a different (more reachable) location, or keeping a stool nearby to sit on so you don't have to crouch or bend.
These kinds of home organization projects are especially helpful if you have limited mobility or you tend to get breathless from light activities. Regardless of how big or small the project is, goal-setting is the best first step toward a solution.
Setting SMART goals can help you make all sorts of adjustments to your environment that make it more accommodating for living with COPD. These changes can also make it easier to develop healthy habits like cooking healthy meals or keeping your home respiratory-irritant-free.
Here's another example: if your kitchen cabinets are cluttered and disorganized, it can be difficult to put things away and find the things you need. As a result, you might avoid unloading the dishwasher, or avoid cooking altogether because you don't want to deal with the mess.
To help yourself solve this problem, you could make it your goal to keep a tidy kitchen and set some specific objectives to help you along. Your first objectives, for example, could be to organize each cabinet and ensure that all of their contents have a permanent and practical place.
Here are some more examples of goals related to home and organization:
- Fix up your bathroom with mobility aids to make showering and using the toilet easier. (e.g. non-slip mats, a shower chair, handles for balance, etc.)
- De-clutter your living areas so you can find things and move around the space more freely.
- Deep-clean your home to get rid of dust, mold, pollen, and other respiratory irritants that could make your COPD symptoms worse.
- Re-arrange furniture strategically to create more open space and maximize the room's functionality.
- Take care of odd repairs around the house, such as loose doorknobs, burnt-out lightbulbs, or malfunctioning appliances.
- Set up a better cable management system (using extension cords, labels, twist ties, etc.) to eliminate tripping hazards and to make it easier to find and reach cords.
- Utilize shelving, storage cubes, or plastic bins to keep loose items organized and secured.
- Move items you don't use very often out of the way and in to storage.
- Get rid of or replace appliances and furniture that you don't use.
- Re-arrange your storage shelves and cabinets for better practical use. (e.g. put the most frequently used items in the easiest-to-reach spots)
How to Achieve Your Goals
Now that we've looked at how to create SMART, effective goals, let's take a look at how to achieve them. While there's no single correct patch to reaching your goals, there are a few important steps you can take to maximize your chances for success.
Step 1: Write Down Your Goals and Objectives
While it's possible to go through the goal-setting process mentally, it won't be nearly as helpful as if you record it all on paper. When you write your thoughts down where you can see them, it's much easier to sort through your ideas and come up with fully fleshed-out goals.
In fact, some research suggests that people who actually write their goals down (instead of just thinking about them) are about 42% more likely to succeed in meeting those goals. This study also showed that you're more likely to achieve your goals if you share them with a friend and track them with weekly progress reports.
Once you've crafted your goals and objectives, put your final plan in writing by consolidating all your goals and objectives to a single computer document or a piece of paper. Put this “master list” somewhere safe, but easy to access at will; after all, it serves as both your reminder of your goals and your roadmap to achieve a better quality of life.
You should make sure to review your goals often, at least once a week and preferably every day. This will help you keep them fresh in your head as you go about daily life, and it can even help re-fuel your motivation and commitment toward your goals.
Step 2: Track Your Goals
Your goals won't be much use if you forget about them after you write them down. That's why it's extremely important to set up a system for tracking your goals over time.
Goal-tracking systems help you stay accountable to your goals, but they can also help motivate you to success. They allow you to recognize patterns and view your success in a much more tangible way.
For the most part, goal tracking is pretty easy; it's simply a method for writing down or otherwise recording your progress. You can do this on paper, a computer spreadsheet, or via a digital goal tracking tool; the exact method you use doesn't matter as much as making sure that it makes sense to you and that you'll be able to stick with that same method long term.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Keep a Goals Calendar
Tracking your goals on a calendar makes it easy to visualize your progress, including setbacks and streaks of success. The process is simple: you use the space for each day on the calendar to write down or check off which goals and objectives you complete.
You can make simple notes about your goals, check off daily objectives, and rate your goal-related behavior every day. The best thing about a well-organized goal calendar is it allows you to measure your progress at a glance; you can easily look at any time period to see which goals you're struggling with and which ones are going well.
Keep a Goals Journal
Another way to track your goals is to record your most recent failures and successes in a journal. It's best to write at regular, specified intervals, whether that's every day, every other day, or once a week.
Your can write long-form journal entries describing your progress in detail, or you can just take short notes on your setbacks and successes. Keep your journal entries together in a notebook or computer document so you can look back through them later; this will help you evaluate how things have changed or improved over time.
Make sure to refer to your master list of goals and objectives before you write your journal entries. That way, your goals will be fresh in your mind as you write and you'll be less likely to leave anything out.
Keep a Goals Spreadsheet
Similar to tracking goals on a calendar, tracking your goals via spreadsheets is an efficient and organized way to track your progress on specific goals. You can create a spreadsheet on your computer or, if you prefer, you can pen one by hand on graphing paper.
On your spreadsheet, list your daily, weekly, monthly, and other time-specified goals. Then, on the opposite side, list all the dates for the following month or whatever time period you want your spreadsheet to cover. You may also want to leave space in your spreadsheet to write short notes and comments about your progress.
Then, every day, you can get out that spreadsheet to mark off whether or not you've taken action toward that goal. If you want to get fancy, you can use multiple spreadsheets, color-coding, symbols, and other formatting tools to organize your goal-tracking spreadsheet further.
Here are some additional tools and techniques you can use to track your goals:
- Keep a simple bullet list of all your goals and objectives and check them off as you complete them. (This lightweight method is great in combination with another goal-tracking tool like a calendar or journal.)
- Use a corkboard, white board, or a sheet from your planner to plan out your goals and objectives for the week.
- Use a mobile app to help you track your goals:
- HabitBull: track good and bad habits, view your progress on calendars and graphs, and participate in an online community of goal-setters
- Time Planner: log goals and habits, plan tasks and objectives, visualize your schedule, and set alarms for reminders
- Strides: this SMART-method driven tool lets you track your habits and goals, and helps you break down larger goals into smaller objectives
- There are dozens of other great habit and goal-tracking apps out there, give some a try until you find one that works for you!
Step 3: Evaluate Your Progress
Once you have a system in place for keeping track of your goals and objectives, you can take it one step further and evaluate your progress as you go. That means looking over your goals, analyzing the progress you've made, and deciding where to go from there.
This process of evaluation is important because it helps you figure out what's working and what's not. If you notice you're struggling to make progress in a certain area, it could be a sign that your strategy just isn't working out.
That's when you should take another hard look at your goals and objectives to see if you need to make any adjustments. Consider ways to re-frame your goals or come up with some new objectives that are more useful or realistic to achieve.
Taking the time to analyze your progress also gives you the chance to acknowledge your improvements and congratulate yourself for you success. After all, it's hard to stay motivated and continue pushing toward your goals if you don't pause to recognize how far you've come.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to evaluate your goals and progress:
- How well, in general, am I doing at making progress toward my goals?
- Are there any large streaks of failure or success?
- Which goals and objectives are working out for me the best? Which ones aren't going well?
- Are my objectives helping me get closer to my goals?
- Are my goals helping me achieve the things I want and need?
- What have I learned about myself and my goals?
- What have I improved or made the most progress toward?
- Is there anything I can do to make my goals more focused or effective?
- Are there any goals I need to update or replace with a more or less challenging goal?
Step 4: Celebrate Success
Celebrating success, both big and small, is a vital step on the path to meeting your goals. Rewarding yourself not only feels good, but it also helps you build confidence in yourself and your ability to achieve.
It's important to realize that success isn't just an endpoint like reaching your final goal; it includes the smaller wins too, such as:
- Overcoming a challenge
- Completing an objective
- Making a leap in progress
- Reaching a milestone
- Win streaks (e.g. taking a specific action toward a goal for several days in a row)
- Anything else you consider to be an accomplishment
Success is also highly energizing, and making a point to acknowledge it can give you extra motivation to keep working toward your goals. You'll find that building momentum is easier when you take the time to appreciate all the little improvements and accomplishments you make along the way.
Here are some ideas of ways you can celebrate your success:
- Pause to recognize the accomplishment, give yourself credit, and let yourself feel proud. Don't immediately start worrying about the next thing; just take some time to bask in the glory and appreciate what you've achieved.
- Share your success with others and let trusted friends and family know what you've achieved.
- Invite some friends or family over for a get-together, or go out for a celebratory meal or snack.
- Reward yourself with a treat like ice cream or another favorite snack.
- Reward yourself with some down time to do something you really enjoy, such as watching a. movie, reading a book, binging on some TV, or doing another hobby.
- Reward yourself by shopping for something new, such as a new book, outfit, or video game.
More Resources for Goal-Setting
If you'd like to learn more about different goal-setting methods and how to make SMART goals, you can find a variety of other helpful resources online. We've included links to several of them below, including a great SMART goals worksheet you can use to work on setting your personal goals.
More Practical Goal-Setting Resources:
- Get started with this SMART Goals Worksheet from smartsheet
- SMART Goals: How to Guide (PDF link) from the The University of California
- COPD Action Plan Worksheet from the American Lung Association
- Tips for Reaching Health and Wellness Goals from PartnerMD
Living with a chronic condition like COPD can be a challenging, and it can make it more difficult to get the things you want and need in life. That's why it's so important to learn strategies, like goal-setting, that can help you succeed.
Setting goals helps you focus on what matters to you and your health, and sheds light on the path to move forward. Even just going through the process of creating SMART goals can help you think about your life and your future in a more positive, hopeful way.
Even when it seems hard or overwhelming, it's always worthwhile to work towards a happier, healthier life. It's never too late to change your habits or go after things you want; it just takes some thought, persistence, and a plan to guide you through.