Psychologist Christa Schirl explains why goals don't always make sense

KURIER: Ms. Schirl, can you explain to me why I plan to eat healthier every year, to keep my desk tidy and not to put off unloved work – only to find out that my good intentions come back up over the months stayed on track?
Christa Schirl: Probably because you are getting it wrong. Tidying up the desk once is easy, leaving the desk tidy every day is an art. Today we know from research that it makes more sense to pursue the values ​​that lie behind the goals rather than concrete goals. Better think about what is important to you.

Resolutions such as tidying up your desk every week or doing sports during your lunch break are therefore doomed to failure?
Basically yes. But if you tell yourself, for example, that it is important to you to be fit and healthy, you have set a value that will probably make you reach for a salad rather than a greasy pizza during your lunch break, or for taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or Get you to use lunchtime to walk around the block. If you define the value as spending more time with family and friends, then it can be easier to work efficiently over the long term, to complete the work faster and to be back home faster. What I mean by that: Make yourself aware of why you have which goals. Then these can be implemented more easily.

That sounds easy, actually. Is that really the secret?
Of course, there are a few things to consider when defining the values. On the one hand, they must lie in your own competence. You can’t pretend that your boss is always nice to you or that you are six feet tall and have a professional basketball career. I also advise you to write down the most important values ​​and to come into contact with them regularly through a wide variety of senses. If we stick to the value “fit and healthy”: For example, come up with a symbol for it and hang it on the pin board above the desk. Or, create a playlist that embodies value to you and listen to it regularly. This will ensure that the value and associated goals don’t fade from memory.

And how many of these values ​​should you define?
Less is more. It is best to have one value that you consistently pursue, but no more than three.
You should actually be able to remember this well.
Well, think about the billboards on the street. These are renewed every 14 days because everything we see more often is no longer consciously perceived by us humans. We practically look right through them. Everything that is new, on the other hand, attracts our attention. So if you pursue values ​​and goals, it makes sense to give them a touch of new on a regular basis. Hang the note with the written values ​​in a new place or think of new symbols for it. How to connect with them over and over again.

And how long does it take until I no longer need such a reminder, that is, the new behavior has become a habit?
If you strictly pursue a goal for three weeks, you can assume that an initial neural connection has been established in the brain. And if, after these three weeks, you continue to strictly pursue the goal for another three months, you can speak of a habit.

To person:

Christa Schirl is a psychologist and psychotherapist in Linz and specializes in the areas of work psychology as well as child, youth and family psychology, among other things. Since this year she has been working as a training officer at the association for psychosocial education, training and further education. Schirl is also an expert in the media women network, freelance coach and trainer and repeatedly appears as a keynote speaker. In the past, for example, at the career talk “Working to live – Living to work” in Linz.

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