The Thing About Goals…

One of the good things about my work as a Speech Language Pathologist, specializing in cognitive communcation, is that I do very real and functional things with my clients. We are working together on their lives – how to communicate better, how to think better, and how to lead meaningful and productive lives.

However, it does mean, that I can’t just be a talker. I can’t just tell them what to do. Well, I guess technically I could, but that wouldn’t make me a very good therapist. I need to be walking my talking. I actually rely quite heavily on my own life experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly.

I feel blessed sometimes to have had the challenges I have had so far in my life as it gives me some perspective, and allows me to try to be more empathetic. It also lets me share ideas of what has worked for me – and what has not.

Being a parent to so many unique individuals – with such unique circumstances – is also really helpful. With many of my younger clients, I find I do a lot of mothering and a lot of my “tricks” come from parenting experiences and parenting books/articles that I enjoy reading.

Because I draw so much on my own life experiences, when I hear of a new strategy or some way of doing things, I need to try it out in my own life.

Years ago, I was introduced to a strategy to help with initiation, follow through and goal setting. It was introduced by two well respected, brilliant men in the field of traumatic brain injury and rehabilitation: Mark Ylvisaker and Tim Feeney. It is called “GPPDR: Goal, Plan, Predict, Do, Review”.

It is something that I have used many times with clients:
– G – Set a small, measurable goal
– P – Make a detailed plan how to accomplish that goal
– P – Predict what can go wrong with your plan and anticipate problems and how you will deal with them
– D – DO it
– R – Review how well you did – what went well, what you would do differently next time.

It is usually quite effective and helpful to write it all out. We are much more accountable to ourselves and get things done when they are written (hence a reason to write lists too:).

The other night at family night, we did the REVIEW portion and reviewed our summer goals. They are all written out and nicely displayed on our kitchen bulletin board. Some of the kids have been doing well with working on their goals – some of them, not so much.

I reviewed my own “summer goals” that I wrote a while back. My plan was to try to accomplish the goals while I was on vacation. Well, one vacation is done so I wanted to see how I faired. And I faired “ok”.

We rented the beach house and it lived up to everything I ever imagined: frolicking in the waves with my fam, relaxing on the sundeck, reading, and eating seafood. I achieved some of my more specific goals (e.g. saying yes more often), but forgot about some others (e.g. finding the positives and vocalizing them to my kids and husband. I can say I think I yelled less often so that must mean I was more positive). Then there were some that got “sorta done”.

As we talked with the kids about their goals and as I thought about mine, it was clear that there were some things we were much better at doing than others. Some things were easy to do – some things harder. Sometimes we forgot what we were supposed to be doing – which speaks to the importance of having reminders and checkpoints to make sure we are on track. Sometimes we didn’t feel like doing them.

And that is ok.

I emphasized to my kids (and to myself) that we will often get off track with our goals. The important thing is that we keep checking in with what our goals are and make efforts to get back on track. I would guess that we are off track the majority of the time! But we should not let that deter us from setting goals, or from getting back on track if we lose our way. We only fail in achieving our goals if we stop trying.

We have another vacation at a cottage coming up in a couple of weeks. This time, I am going to review my goals right before I go and see if I can do a little better on a few that slipped by the wayside.

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