WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 2, 2015) -- Goals -- especially New Year's resolutions this time of year are great to have: losing weight, stopping smoking, earning a college degree, eating healthy, paying off credit cards and so on.

Problem is, it's one thing to have a goal and another to successfully complete it.

A popular New Year's resolution is getting a gym membership to get in shape, said Arlene Bauer, a master resilience trainer performance expert at the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center at Fort Hood, Texas.

However, it seems the gym is usually crowded the beginning of January and tapers off by the end of the month, she observed.

So what happened? Are those people who failed just plain lazy and undisciplined or is there something else going on?

Bauer thinks the latter and she has the recipe for increasing the chances that goals will be met.

INTERNAL MOTIVATION

"People come up to me and say 'I need to get motivated, can you help me get motivated?'" Bauer said.

The reason many can't stay committed to goals is because their source of the motivation is coming from the wrong place, she said she tells them. Most likely, people are focusing on external sources of motivation.

External sources could be things like rewards, avoiding punishment or shame -- as in the case of being overweight.

Therein lies the problem, she said. "Really, what keeps people committed to their goals are internal sources of motivation. If you align your goals with internal sources, you'll be more committed in the long term because it's a source coming from within you that's there all the time."

The most important internal sources of motivation are personal values, Bauer said.

A common personal value is putting family first, she said. For others, it's personal excellence or setting a good example as a leader at work. For some, it's spiritual. These are things that really matter and people live their lives for them. It represents who they are.

So the first thing to do, after identifying goals -- or even before that -- is identifying one's personal values. Once the values are identified, the goals can be tied directly to them, she said.

IDENTIFY OBSTACLES

Some of the people Bauer sees have already failed at a goal and are at wits end. For them, it's often easy to identify the obstacles. A common one is not having enough time to pursue a goal. That's particularly true for Soldiers who are on duty 24/7.

For others who are on a first-time quest for a goal, they may not yet realize what obstacles lie ahead, she said.

An example of an obstacle to fitness for a parent may be the desire to spend more time with the kids, conflicting with having enough time to devote to a goal. A trip to the gym would decrease that quality time.

So Bauer and the parent or parents -- and sometimes the whole family -- will sit down and find ways to overcome the obstacle. It could be as simple as time management or getting a jogging stroller.

The stroller would enable the parent to be with the infant and get exercise at the same time. For an older child, the child might ride a bicycle alongside the parent who is jogging.

There are numerous obstacles, each with innumerable possible solutions, she explained.

After goal setting, tying that in with personal values and identifying obstacles and solutions, people execute their plans, but later encounter unanticipated obstacles like loss of job, change of marital status and so on, she said. Some then come back to see her and they discuss overcoming these new obstacles and take it from there.

BRACE FOR FAILURES

For goals that are especially challenging, there will likely be some failures and mistakes, she said. "That's just part of it. The important thing is picking yourself up and bouncing back."

Goal setting and overcoming obstacles isn't easy but it's doable, she said, especially when personal values are linked. People enjoy watching professional athletes on TV but what they don't see are all the training and challenges that got them there.

To sum everything up, she said:

"We define the skill goal setting as: Identify a personally meaningful goal and develop a concrete plan to ensure achievement. Understand how personal values help form self-directed motivation. Develop commitment strategies to support goal attainment. Create techniques to regularly monitor goal progress."

Here's how to get help locally:

Master resilience trainer performance experts are located at Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, or CSF2, training centers across the Army. To find a CSF2 training center on an installation, visit: http://csf2.army.mil/training-centers.html

There's also an official CSF2 goal-setting app for iPad that can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/csf2-goals/id688829038?mt=8

Or:

http://csf2.army.mil/downloads-apps.html

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