We all have things we are working towards, whether it’s to improve our health, build a business, save for a holiday, or just clean out that junk draw in the kitchen. What is the difference between those who start and stop something and those who start and finish it? Setting clear and specific goals can increase your likelihood of success. It gives you the motivation and accountability to stay focused and follow through on your plans.
Setting goals can feel like a daunting task so we’ve put together some helpful tips here.
How Motivated Are You?
If you’ve ever set a goal and quit before seeing any results, then you know all too well that it takes more than sheer willpower to make a change. It helps to to set ‘SMART’ goals, an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
When you make your goal specific, you set yourself up for success. Consider answering who, what, where, when, which and why when getting specific about your goal. Have clarity - goals should be clear and well-defined. Ideally write them down, don’t just keep them in your head.
What benchmarks will you use to make sure you are moving forward? How will you know if you’re successful? How will you know if you need to make adjustments? Having a goal that you can measure will help you stay on track and reach any deadlines you set for yourself. Monitor the feedback you are getting regularly: check-in and assess how it’s going.
Is the goal you’re setting one you can reach? Goals should be challenging for you, out of your comfort zone, but also achievable. A proper clear goal sits right inside your challenge-skill sweet spot, meaning it’s hard enough to stretch you to the edge of your abilities, but not hard enough to push you beyond, into that demotivating realm of anxiety and overwhelm.
You should fully commit to your goals to achieve them. So it’s important to assess; is your goal relevant to your life? Can you realistically achieve it based on your current circumstances? This may be a goal you’ve set before and did not achieve because it was not realistic at the time, but maybe now is the time to go for it.
For a goal to be realistic it also has to be grounded within a time frame and it needs to be real or tangible. Give yourself time and space to reach complex goals, breaking them down into smaller more manageable ones as needed.
Determining Your Goals
You can set goals in any part of your life. Some of the more common areas include health, career, financial, relationships and education. These broader categories set the stage for the smaller goals you will work on yearly, monthly and daily. Goals also encompass things like learning to paint, starting yoga classes and giving back to your community. You don’t have to limit yourself to the most obvious parts of your life. Take some time to think about your passions and interests. Brainstorm some ideas around things that excite you. Think back and try to identify if there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but fear of the unknown - or fear of failure - prevented you from taking a risk. The ideas you generate from these brainstorming activities are like clues that can help you narrow your focus and set more specific goals. It is also important that your goals align with your values. Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. It’s important to understand what you value and what are your priorities. For example, do you value freedom and adventure or stability and comfort? Then align your goals accordingly.
Ask Yourself Why
For your goals to be effective, you also need to find your purpose or the “why” of what drives your motivation. ‘Why’ is that goal important to you? Consider asking yourself questions like:
Why is this important to me?
Why does this matter?
Why do I feel strongly about this?
Once you have a better idea of your ‘why’, determine if you’re truly ready to make this commitment.
Are you ready to commit to something that might be physically and/or emotionally uncomfortable?
Are you ready to be honest with yourself about where you’re at and where you want to go?
Do you have the time? Can you say “no” to the things that will interfere with your goal?
Other Tips and Strategies to Reach Your Goals
State Goals With a Positive Tone When setting a goal, try to avoid the temptation to state your desire in a negative way. For example, “I will not complain so much.” Restated positively sounds more like this, “I will find three positive things about my day and write them down before I go to bed.” Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome. This is one of the most difficult parts of setting and achieving goals. Because of the very nature of a goal, you start with the end in mind. But it’s really the steps you take to get there that matter the most. Let’s say the outcome you want is to lose 20kg. That’s the goal. But during the process of working towards this goal, you discover that your body is more comfortable at a weight that only has you losing 15kg. Did you fail at achieving this goal? Not if you believe in the power of the process. Make a Contract With Yourself. Once you’re ready to go, whether that’s in the preparation or action stage, you can make a contract with yourself for success. Clear Out the Old to Make Room for the New. It’s a good idea to reflect on what you’ve accomplished thus far and forgive yourself and let go of any regret or shame you may have. While working on clearing the clutter from your mind, it’s not a bad idea to do the same with your home and workspaces. Visualise What You Want Visualisation stimulates many of the same neural networks that connect the brain’s intentions to the body, so, take some time to properly train your thoughts before you begin setting your goals. This helps you purposefully and intentionally imagine your goals coming to fruition. Hypnotherapy sessions can be a great way to work with this. Make a Specific Plan List out your goal(s) and the steps you need to accomplish them. Then, break these into small attainable steps with realistic deadlines. Set aside time before the start of each week to write out specific things you want to accomplish within the following week that will move you closer to the goal. Seek Support Seeking support from loved ones can help with reassurance and accountability. Tell a few friends or family members of your plans so they can encourage you and provide feedback when needed to help you stay on track toward your goal. Keep it Visible It’s a good idea to put your goals with the steps and deadlines in a place where you can see it often. Seeing the goals and steps you have to take will keep you motivated and consistent to continue to work toward it. Look at it weekly or better yet daily. Reward Yourself As you accomplish steps toward your goal, make sure to reward yourself along the way. Rewards should be simple, consistent, easy to acquire and healthy. Reviewing and Reassessing Your Goals One last thing before you get busy setting your goals, plan to review and reassess your goals several times before you reach them, especially if they are loftier goals. You can set this up weekly or monthly, but a quick review is helpful to keep you focused on your goal and to review your progress. The most important thing is that you assess whether your goals - and the steps you’re taking, are still relevant and realistic. Give yourself a chance to make adjustments and always remember to celebrate any successes you’ve achieved!