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Eyes on wellbeing

“The important thing to recognise is that you can't do everything”

Trevor Bibic, learning and development consultant, explains how setting goals and ultimately achieving them can be a manageable task

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Getty/Malte Mueller
As the AOP’s happiness webinar series continues, OT caught up with Trevor Bibic, facilitator of June’s event, which focuses on goal setting, time management, and how to identify and prioritise the tasks that are of real value.

How would you recommend people start their goal-setting journey?

Sometimes we feel like we need to have huge life goals that we're working towards. That's great, if you know what those are. But not all of us do. So, start with something you feel you can identify, whether it's for today, this week, or next month. Your goal setting doesn't have to be limited to grand things. Start by thinking, “What do I want to work towards?” Then ask yourself the question, “Why is that important to me?” so you have a sense of whether this goal is important enough to be worth the effort you will put into it. You are then minimising the chance of committing to things that you don't really want to do, that you'll ultimately ignore, avoid or resent.

Choose things that are important to you, so you will be committed to specific actions. If you find that you are able to start with smaller goals, sometimes that allows us to build momentum and confidence to think about things that are bigger and further ahead. Start with what's on today's agenda, and then build from there.

How do you recommend that people go about starting to work on their goals?

Once you've identified what you're working towards, the next step is breaking that goal down into the smallest manageable chunks that you can. Otherwise, we could feel that the goal is too big, and we don’t make progress towards it because there's never enough time.

For example, if you want to learn a language, it could feel like quite a daunting task. Whereas you can buy a language book, language course or download an app. That's a first step you can achieve. You might then give that course ten minutes of your day, three days a week. If it feels manageable, you continue to add chunks, and it starts to add up towards that bigger goal.

Are there any practical ways of identifying goals? If someone doesn't know what to do, how do they set that vision?

Often, we're hesitant to identify goals because we worry about what they should be. We worry about what others might think about our goals, and whether we should declare them. Don’t put yourself under pressure to pick something significant. Initially, write down everything you think you might like to achieve: whether it's a lifetime goal, or something very short-term. Putting all of those down, unedited, can help you start to try and catch the things that are meaningful to you.

Giving yourself a sense of what you'd like the future to look like first helps you start to define the meaningful goals you’ll need to move towards that vision

 

One approach I like, is to write down what you'd like life to look like in the future. Maybe that's two years from now; maybe it's 10 years from now. You don't have to define it perfectly, but you might have a sense of how you'd like to be feeling, what sort of things you might like to have in your life; how you'd like work to be. Then, your brain will start to generate ideas of how you can move from where you are today to where you'd like to be. Giving yourself a sense of what you'd like the future to look like first, helps you start to define the meaningful goals you’ll need to move towards that vision.

Treat it as something that you're going to work hard towards, and allow for the possibility that you, your feelings, or the world, might change around you. Embrace the opportunity that this flexibility might create and review what your goals look like as a result.

How do you recommend balancing long and short-term goals, when working on them at the same time?

It's completely normal to be working on the short-term and the long-term at the same time. The key is to have taken the time to break down long-term goals into those manageable chunks, so you know when they fit into your regular day-to-day work and life. Keep track of your progress on those long-term goals and set yourself a regular check in to see how you are progressing. Consider diarising them in a calendar or any other trusted system you have.

We have to recognise the goals and tasks that are of higher value in moving us towards where we want to be, and be ruthless in letting go of the things that don’t

 

The important thing to recognise is that you can't do everything. You should be assessing regularly. I have known people who have lots of goals, and they try to fit all of them into their limited amount of time, and end up overwhelmed and exhausted. We could think of our long list of goals as tasks, and consider which are the most important. What has got the highest value? Which will you NOT do? Then, you're focusing on the things that matter the most rather than trying to do everything and risking burning yourself out.

We have to recognise the goals and tasks that are of higher value in moving us towards where we want to be, and be ruthless in letting go of the things that don’t. That’s the best way to avoid burnout.


Building the happiness habit: join the AOP’s new wellbeing webinar series

The AOP’s happiness webinar series aims to equip members with practical skills that will help them reconnect with their happiness.

The next webinar (29 June) focuses on achieving happiness. Book the webinar via the AOP’s events page.

Other ways the AOP is supporting your health and wellbeing

The AOP’s Peer Support Line is a free, confidential helpline for members and non-members at any stage of their career, and can be accessed 24 hours a day. Volunteers are on duty to return calls between 8am and 8pm, and an external answering service is available outside these hours. 

Contact the Peer support line on 0800 870 8401.

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