Reaching The End Goal
People come to counselling because they want a change. However, change is often difficult and overwhelming. Often in my practice I hear “I want to change but I don’t know how to change”. People look at the end goal and become frightened with the idea of getting there because it is such a big goal. The end goal is too much to handle at once. We can’t go from 0 to 100 in a day. We need to take gradual steps. We need to break this big picture of change into smaller easier goals. When we set small goals we can then eventually reach our final goal.
Let us break it down a little and look at this example. If a salesman wants to make a certain amount of money in a year there are steps that this salesman needs to take in order to reach the end goal. If he wants to make $50,000.00 he needs to do things to reach that goal. This would mean that he needs to make 120 sales in the year. To break it down, he needs to ensure that he makes $4166.00/month and 10 sales in that month. We need to break this down even more. Each week this means that he needs to make 2-3 sales. Now how can he make those 2-3 sales a week? He needs to make 10 phone calls a day and set up 2 meetings a day in order to make those 2-3 sales in a week.
How does this all relate to counselling? Change is difficult and takes a lot of work. We wish that change would happen overnight. Let us take that previous example and apply it to change in counselling. If the end goal is to reduce anxiety and have a happier life there are things we have to do in order to accomplish that goal. Change takes a while to happen. To simplify it let’s set this goal to be achieved in one year’s time. What do we have to do to achieve the reduction in anxiety?
- Set and evaluate your goal
- Exercise 3 times a week
- Attend counselling
- Get out of the house and socialize
- Eat 3 healthy meals
- Drink plenty of water
- Challenge thoughts
When we break down this large goal of reducing anxiety it is more manageable and will create less anxiety about change. When we only focus on that big goal we don’t know where to start. By breaking down the end goal it becomes more manageable and change actually occurs quicker. Research states that the more a client does outside of session the quicker the change will occur. This provides a map of how to accomplish that change. The first step to change is to pick up the phone and set up an appointment for counselling. That one step is how you reach your end goal.
Jenn Betts is a Registered Psychologist with the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta and specializes in the areas of anxiety and personal growth, as well as many others. For more information on Jenn, her work, or other articles she’s written for Living Well click here to link to her full bio page.