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Setting Tasks and Goals

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Setting Tasks and Goals

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									Setting Tasks and Goals
Article 5 of 7 M = R/T x C – Mo M: Motivation R: Reward T: Task C: Confidence of Success Mo: Motivation to do something else A task in this context is defined as “the effort/ energy that is expended or will need to be expended in the pursuit of a goal”. It is always important to be accurate and precise when defining a task as the more accurate you are the more manageable the task will be perceived. The consequence of not defining the task accurately is that the perceived task becomes more inflated and is therefore, perceived as being more difficult to achieve. Motivation will decrease if the perceived task is confusing or seems to be more difficult than it is. Three critical factors in defining tasks accurately. 1. Focus on the actual task and not the imagined or feared task. Keep the task manageable. For example, “I’m going to jog for 20 minutes three times a week” and not “I am going to run everyday for an hour and be fit and healthy for the rest of my life”. 2. Focus on sub–tasks rather than the whole task. Breaking up the whole task into smaller tasks means the task is more manageable. It is also useful to set rewards for each sub task. For example, “I’m going to jog for 20 minutes today and when I finish that I’ll have a cup of tea and read the newspaper”. 3. All tasks can be subdivided into three separate components: the task–initiation, task maintenance and task–completion. All three of these components need to be treated as separate motivational processes, each with its own task and set of rewards. For example, “I’m going to start jogging today (20 minutes) and after I have done that, I’ll see a movie with friends tonight”. At the beginning of a task, the end may seem far away and therefore, the reward will have a low perceived value. By setting the beginning of a task as an achievement with its own reward should motivate the individual to at least begin. This is usually followed by other intrinsic rewards such as the relief that comes with having begun a task. This is especially valuable to people who are prone to procrastinating. Having begun a task one then needs to keep going. Rewarding oneself for this stage will then motivate one to actually getting to the end of a task. Once a full task has been completed it is again important to reward this achievement. Failure with any given task is usually the result of not consciously working through these three components involved in task achievement. A useful way in which to make the set task clear, especially when trying to initiate a change like starting to exercise or eating healthy food is for the individual to set themselves goals. In order for change to be successful one needs to have a clear idea of what one is trying to achieve. If the individual has no goals to work towards they have no way of gauging their progress. An important part of having the motivation to change is the feeling of having achieved goals. Having effective goals is a crucial part of being effectively motivated. To motivate oneself most effectively, one needs to have several key goals. It is important to have more than one goal to help one stay motivated when achieving a particular goal seems distant. But it is also important not to have too many goals, because then individual goals can lose their importance. When
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setting goals, it is useful to have a balance between outcome and process goals, short and long– term goals, and very important and more fun goals. Outcome goals will involve achieving a particular result, for example, losing 2 kg, running a race in a particular time, or completing a certain event. A process goal will involve learning how to do something, or doing something in a particular way, for example, learning to play squash, or really staying focused during your aerobics routine. Often outcome goals are an important part of initiating change, while process goals are an important part of maintaining that change. Because often, many of our health goals involve a fairly distant eventuality, it is useful to supplement long–term health goals with short and medium term goals. A short term goal might be to exercise 4 times this week, or to really enjoy a particular walk, or to complete next week’s time trial better than this week’s. Constructing these more tangible goals will make it easier to work towards a long-term goal of life–long health. Likewise, while some goals are extremely important, it is also useful and fun to have some goals that one can be more playful about, and which one can enjoy, irrespective of whether they are actually achieved. Effective goal setting will involve 1. writing goals down, 2. monitoring progress towards these goals, and 3. revising goals to keep them relevant, interesting, and effective motivators. How to set effective goals Use the following guidelines to help yourself work through setting your own goals. Remember that your goals should be something you want to achieve and must be relevant to your personal situation.

Set specific goals
Goals should not be general “I will do better” statements. Rather set specific goals that can be measured or seen. For example, improving your walking time by X minutes or lose X kilograms by X time.

Set realistic goals
Goals that are too difficult to achieve will lead to frustration and reduced confidence however, goals that are too easy may lead to boredom. Be aware of your own abilities, commitment and motivation. Set goals that you can achieve, but will also keep you interested.

Set long–term, medium–term and short–term goals
Set a balance between short–term and long–term goals. This is very effective for maintaining motivation. You need to work towards long–term goals, but short–term goals can act as the stepping– stones towards your long–term goals.
Short-term goal: Medium-term goal: Long-term goal: Daily to weekly 1 month to 6 months Longer than 6 months

Set both outcome and process goals
Set a balance between outcome goals and process goals. This is very effective for maintaining motivation. You can consciously manipulate your choice of goals in different situations, depending on motivational fluctuations. For example, if you are not achieving your outcome goals (e.g. particular time in a time trial), focusing on a process goal (e.g. enjoying yourself) will help keep you motivated. Likewise, when things such as enjoyment or intensity are lacking, it will be useful to work towards an outcome goal.
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This will provide you with the motivation that is needed to keep going. Keep in mind, however, that in general, process goals are usually more effective than outcome goals. Trying to achieve outcome goals can create anxiety and when they are not achieved, can lead to frustration, disappointment, and a decrease in confidence. Process goals, however, are more easily achieved, will keep you motivated and will improve your confidence.

Set goals of different levels of importance
Set a balance between slightly important goals and very important goals. This is very effective for maintaining motivation. You can consciously manipulate your choice of goals in different situations, depending on motivational fluctuations. Slightly important goals are fun to work towards and this is useful, but very important goals are what keep you motivated in the long–term.

Record goals
Recording your goals where you can see them on a daily basis helps you to keep track of where you are and keeps your motivation levels up. Record your goals here. Fill in the following table to record your goals. Remember to have a balance between the various types of goals. You can use the list below to guide you, but remember to set your own, specific goals.
Level of importance Slight Medium Very Short-term goal Medium-term goal Long-term goal

Example of possible goals – set your own personal goals.
Complete a particular event Achieve a certain time Get into better physical shape Lose weight Manage blood pressure Manage cholesterol Manage diabetes Manage other health condition (specify) Feel more attractive Lead a healthy lifestyle Exercise daily Enjoy exercising Enjoy healthy food Improving a particular skill e.g. swimming stroke, running style etc. Make new friends Feel more energetic Feel stronger Working as part of a team Feel I am making good use of my body Improve self-confidence Do something that I enjoy Help my family be more healthy

* Place your list of goals where you will see them often.

Set goal strategies
For each goal, you need to set a strategy for how you will reach this goal. For example, if your goal is to lower your cholesterol, how will you manage this? Set yourself exercises (be specific) and alter your eating habits (be specific).

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Think about how you will achieve these goals? What strategy will you use for each goal you have set?
Goal How will you achieve this goal?

Evaluate goals
Keep evaluating your goals. Once you have reached certain goals, they will need to be adjusted. If you find certain goals are not working for you, you can change them. Remember: your goals are there for you: make them work for you.

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