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Shannon Says: Keep Your Goal Success in Sight

By Dr. Shannon Terrell Gordon  

Photo by Leah Yetter

Do you find achieving some goals tricky? If so, I have good newsYou are normal!  


Its typical to find significant change challenging. More often than not, a part of us wants things to stay as they are, and a part of us wants the change we are considering. We find some level of comfort in the known and familiar. Moving toward change feels unfamiliar and can trigger anxious feelings. Most of us work to avoid anxiety, even if procrastination about our goals keeps us stuck. 


I have more good news! Hundreds of studies prove there are approaches that can reduce the uncertainty, ambivalence and anxiety that accompany change. These approaches can make achieving things you really want more likely. Isn’t it an incredible relief to know there’s proven hope? 


Have a pen and paper handy and consider the following. 


Treat yourself kindly  

Research proves we help ourselves when we treat ourselves with as much acceptance, warmth, compassion and support as we would a dear friend. Choose to believe that at least part of you wants your own welfare and best interest. Choose to believe that at least part of you wants to achieve the change you are considering. 


Celebrate that you are in the driver’s seat about whether you move toward the change. Believe that you have strengths that will help you change. Believe that you have the potential to be successful. Tell yourself, “I have or can find what I need to make any change I want. I am going to carefully consider all the reasons I might change and how I might make the change happen.” 


Imagine an internal conversation 

In your mind’s eye, adopt a stance of compassion, genuine interest and gentle acceptance toward yourself. Resolve to avoid judging any perspective, thought or feeling that arises. Rather, simply notice and record whatever perspectives, emotions or thoughts bubble up.   


Also, record the change you consider most important to you. Next, list personal strengths you have that will help you make the change you want. List prior accomplishments, achievements or successes that come to mind. 


Answer the following questions as descriptively as you can:  

  • Is the change I am considering within my control? 
  • What role does the thing/behavior I want to change play in my life today? 
  • What concerns me about making the change I am considering? 
  • What are my reasons for making a change? 
  • Of all the reasons and motivations for change I’ve identified, which is most important to me?  
  • What would be some of the benefits of making the change?  
  • What opportunities might making this change create? 
  • How might I go about making the change? 
  • What are all my options for action? 
  • What would be my next step toward the goal, and how might I make that happen? 
  • Do I want to take that step now, or is there something else more important? 


Celebrate even small increments of progress 

Thank yourself for your self-compassion. Thank yourself for contemplating change. Thank yourself for clarifying the change that is most important to you. Thank yourself for considering why you want to make the change. Thank yourself for considering how you might approach it.  


Celebrate even the teeniest step of action toward the change you want, your every attempt toward success. Celebrate and reward yourself for even the smallest positive progress. If you stumble, celebrate that you are trying!  


Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. Before you know it, your 2020 goal success will be in sight! 


Dr. Shannon Terrell Gordon leads Macon’s River Edge Behavioral Health and River Edge Foundation. Shannon is a researcher, author, speaker and teacher to help each person live his or her best life and to help leaders make the most meaningful impact possible. 


Find more tips from her on Instagram with #drshannonsays. Have a question?Want to suggest topics for her to exploreContact her at 


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