As you may already know, goal setting is a strategy that you use to achieve dreams or simple goals. Ideally, if you intend to use this method, your target goal should be something that can make a positive change in your life. This article will be a walk through one such goal that will help those that have difficulty conversing with people and have an uneasy and anxious feeling or demeanor in social situations.
Let us first start with our goal. The first step in goal setting states that you should define and describe your goal in the most specific and detailed way that you can. Also, it would help if you state it in a positive and matter of fact manner. More particularly, stating your present situation and your desired outcome with a specific deadline. Based on our goal, it would be something like this: “I am socially awkward now but I will become a confident conversant before the end of 2013.”
What you can get from the statement above is a clear idea of the goal, where you’re coming from or starting off, and the deadline. To be more specific, the goal is to become confident in speaking and conversing with others. The starting point of this journey is being socially awkward. Finally, the estimated time this goal will be achieved is before the end of 2013. You can make it more specific if you can like including a month or if there’s a certain event that will happen in 2013 that you’d like to test out whether your goal was indeed achieved, you can include the specific dates.
Now you have a statement of what you intend to achieve, but how do you do this? The next step is then to describe your goal in more detail. Try answering questions in the line of what is a confident conversant? To make it easier to see what you want to achieve, also ask questions about your starting point. Seeing where you’re coming from will help you plan out the things you need to accomplish to attain your goal. Here’s a rough example of what you’ll have so far.
I put this in a table to better see the things that need to be improved from before, the starting point, to after, the end point. Take note that this is just an example so you can make it more specific and add more items to accomplish. The more specific you are, the better. But take note not to have too much items to accomplish as it may overwhelm you which could lead to some items done half heartedly or not completed at all. Personally, I think having three to five is fine.
So you’ve got a clear idea of what you need to accomplish to attain your goal. Now comes the part where you identify how to do this. In the planning stage, you want to specify specific tasks that you need to perform to complete each of the items that you specified as sub-goals. In the case of the sample table, the main goal is to become a confident conversant and the sub-goals are the three items below that.
Let’s look at the possible things you can do to achieve the first sub-goal which is to no longer have negative thoughts on the outcome of a possible or current conversation. Since having negative thoughts has most likely become an unconscious habit, eliminating this will need you to perform a daily exercise. Also, you might need to replace that self depreciating habit with a positive one where, instead of thinking negatively, you’ll think of the positive outcome and reassure yourself that you’ll be alright.
For the daily exercise, as soon as you get out of bed, head to a window with a decent view or if not as long as light can come in and you can see the morning outside. Take a few minutes to look outside and absorb that morning air. If you can, open the window and inhale the fresh morning air. Then, take a deep breath and exhale with a pumped up and energetic smile. In the process, think of the nice start to your day and think that good things will happen. Then, say it out loud. “It’s a beautiful start to a beautiful morning. Good things will happen today.”
Now let’s explore the tasks that will help you attain your second sub-goal, to start and keep a conversation going. Knowing how to start and keep a conversation going is not something that you learn from books, though you can most definitely get some tips there, but the best way to learn this is through experience. So the task that you can do for this is to engage in a conversation with someone at least once a day. For starters, do these with people who are part of the service industry so that you can narrow down the topics you’ll talk about and you won’t need to worry too much about giving an excellent first impression. Later, you can move on to talking with people who are part of your peer or age group.
The topics you want to talk about for the former target are those related to the profession or expertise of that person. If the service industry staff works as a security guard, you can ask him for directions or for his opinion about the best burger joint in town. As for the latter target, the topics are entirely up to you. Look for something on that person or the environment that seems like an interesting topic to talk about. Be careful not to dive into personal subjects, like physical features, right away as that might put people off or might even offend them. If you want to talk about physical features though, you can start with a compliment such as: “Cool hair color.” Then you can follow that with: “Where’d you get it done?”
Finally, for the last sub-goal, in order to become comfortable in a social situation, you can accomplish that through constant practice with the task on talking with people, but you want to do another thing for this goal. One way is to join a club. By doing so, you will become part of a group and constantly be in a social situation every time you join club activities and meetings. Make sure you pick out a group that does something you are passionate about so that it will be worthwhile. Also, be active. Constantly join activities and volunteer to take on responsibilities.
For this last item, you can’t really schedule a regular task for your club activities. However, you can do a task that is related to this and that is to perform a self check on the effects of club activities to your confidence in a social situation. Do this after every club activity so that you can remember details clearly. Just bring a notepad with you and write the details in a narrative manner. You want to focus on the specific instances that had an effect on you may it be positive or negative, so put effort into remembering these.
Once you’ve identified the specific tasks you need to complete your sub-goals to ultimately achieve your main goal and you’ve got a clear picture of task flow, you can now proceed to making a schedule or your action list. Here, you will basically create a timetable for the tasks. The timetable can be a weekly one where in you have all seven days on separate columns, time details on the left most column, and the rest of the rows under each day are where you place tasks. Each task should occupy at least one timeslot so that you can concentrate on completing it. Try not to have two at a time.
About timeslots, you can schedule them on an hourly basis or you can eliminate them completely and just write the specific times of the day you want to do your tasks beside each item. Both methods work just as well, only the one with a column for time details allows you to see what other tasks you have in store for the next hour or if you have vacant slots that you can use to relax or do something else. Perhaps a visual example of the table with a time column will let you understand what I’m trying to say better.
Now about scheduling, when you assign tasks, make sure that you allot an appropriate amount of time for each. It shouldn’t be too long and it shouldn’t be too short either. Give it the right amount of pressure for you to accomplish it without procrastinating and give it just a little bit of extra time to allow for a few minutes of extension in case the task cannot be accomplished within the estimated time.
Once you’re done with this, all that’s left to do is to actually start accomplishing them. So go through all the things you did one more time, make any necessary changes, and if you’re done, start doing the first task on your list the following day.
Now, in this journey, make sure you have a stable source of motivation. This should mainly come from you and the rest can come from others. Keep your motivation in mind at all times. In fact, always have a visual representation of your reasons and motivation. You can do this in the form of a note on your schedule as well as on your mobile phone or computer unit. The reason why you always want to be reminded is because you want to stay focused on what you want to achieve. Also, if the reminder is constantly there, you won’t need to look far for motivation when you encounter difficult times. You just simply have to check your phone or schedule and you’ll instantly be refueled and keep moving forward.
Additionally, you might want to keep a journal that is specifically for this goal. This will enable you to track your progress with the tasks as well as the progress in yourself. When writing on your diary, don’t just write what you did for the day, but also include details on the effects of the tasks to you personally. Did it scare you or did it have an effect on your confidence? Include anything that you think will be detrimental in determining whether the methods you’re doing are indeed effective.
Speaking of determining whether the methods are effective, do this after about two month of doing all the tasks. If you see some progress there, even just a little, then perhaps you’re doing well. If not, think about making some improvements but don’t immediately scrap or change everything. Change takes time especially for this kind of goal, so give it another two weeks and just take note of the improvements or changes that you could do.
Finally, get yourself a team of people who will support you in this journey. These would be your friends and your family. Inform them about the goal you’re setting and surely, they’ll encourage and cheer you on as you go. They might even pressure you by checking up on how you’re doing and in addition to that, they might even give you tips.
Now, remember that this is only a rough guide of how goal setting should be done if you want to improve from being socially awkward to being a confident conversant. Personalize it as much as you want and think up of better tasks than the examples here. Ask for tips from people who are naturally confident and especially from those who were previously awkward in social situations.
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