Setting Goals Reduces Stress

August 5, 2018

Janice Stone

What is the big deal about setting goals?

A few years ago, I started picking a word that would be my theme, my focus, for that coming year.  About four years ago that word was resilience.  At the time that was what I needed to focus and keep on target with what was important to me. It allowed me to keep on keeping on, even when things got tough.  I knew the end goal and I knew I needed resilience to get there.  Ever since I continuously come across the word as I coach others and in my own growth development.  It is a powerful word.

Resilience – the definition from the Merriam Webster dictionary is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”

This week I read an interesting article that really got me excited in our local paper (The Mirror from Midland, Ontario).  The title of the article was “Helping Youth Cope with Stress”.  It grabbed my attention right away because I have a soft spot for youth.  I had the privilege of working with a youth group for many years, as well at a summer camp when my kids were younger.  The highlight for me was getting to know the campers and counsellors and seeing the difference relationships make in a young person’s life. 

The article mentioned the importance of family and connection, but the next two points really popped out at me.  They were:

1.  Goal attainment and

2.  Become strength-based.

These two points are two of my passions and the reason I love coaching others to take bold steps.

Goal attainment brings with it identity formation, which will help build youth’s confidence. It is tough as a young person to find their identity and then set specific and long-term goals for where you want to go into adulthood; most youth are just trying to sort through friendships, peer culture, and lots of changes.  How can we expect them to know at 16 or 17 what they want to do as a career, but soon after they are required to decide on a university and a major for them to focus on in their studies for at least the next few years and then hopefully carry over into a career?  When a student (or adult!) takes the time to find out who they truly are and what their strengths are, they have a stronger sense of personal confidence. 

The discovery of personal strengths gives youth a focus on what they are naturally talented at, thereby giving them a direction that will fit with who they are. If they have a strong sense of identity and their strengths they are more empowered to make their own decisions, vs just guessing as they go through post secondary education, or by comparing themselves to others.

This discovery of strengths and abilities then equips youth to set clear goals, short-term and long-term.  They can confidently make decisions knowing they have the discovery of their natural talents and strengths, and instead of focusing on their weaknesses and trying to improve them, they can be resilient in their strengths.  It is a powerful combination.

Resilience can be learned, through setting goals, and being confident in your strengths.  Step by step, things may change as they grow and continue learning, but they have the confidence to keep on keeping on.  They will be able to react to an event or hardship with strength, direction, and confidence.  The article reminded me that “how someone responds to an event is more important than the event itself”.

I am thankful for the reminder that goal setting and attainment, personal identity, and discovering your strengths can help keep us all resilient and cope with stress.  It’s why I love doing what I do!