Your Ultimate Goal Setting Guide
When the clock strikes midnight on every New Year’s Eve, we lift our glasses of champagne and kiss in the new year. On New Year’s Day, we set goals to help us improve ourselves for that year. We call them “resolutions,” which fools us into thinking we are resolute, and this will be our year. Spoiler: it won’t be your year unless you learn how to actually achieve the goals you just set for yourself.
Most goals are made with the best intentions and highest expectations but then things get in the way. Life happens. Reaching the goal gets difficult. Things aren’t going the way you thought they would.We get discouraged by failure and convince ourselves that meeting the goal is too hard, anyway. So, we give up, at least until next year. Then we do it all again, ad nauseum.
Before you set your goal, ask yourself what is your motivating factor? When you’re close to throwing in the towel on accomplishing your goal, what is going to keep you fighting? Motivation comes from many different places, but ultimately, it has to come from inside. During the road to reach your goal, you will ask yourself several times why are you doing this? Make sure you have an answer before you begin walking that road.
Achieving our goals sounds a lot simpler than it actually is, like most things in life. You would think that all you need to do to achieve a goal is to set the goal and then achieve it. You’d think wrong. There are many steps to take in order to successfully achieve your goal. Here are 7 steps that will help you turn your dreams into reality:
How to Achieve Your Goals
1) What is Your Goal?
The very first stepping stone to reaching your goal is deciding on the goal. What do you want to achieve? What is the best possible outcome you can envision?Do you want to lose those stubborn 15 pounds? Save up money for a European vacation? Go back to college for that degree you never finished? Whatever your goal is, the very first step in the road toachieving it is deciding on what exactly is your goal and keeping sight of it, just there, over the horizon. So close but so far.
Be specific. Saying “I want to lose weight” isn’t going to make you feel any sense of accomplishment. The vagueness of that goal only sets you up for failure because you won’t push yourself hard enough. Reaching your goals – any goal – is a lot of work. It takes time and patience, something many people struggle with in our always-in-a-rush society.
2) Make a plan
You’ve set your goal or goals in your mind, but that isn’t enough for most people. Most people need a visual reminder of their goals, something to attain. A picture on your fridge of a time when you were at your thinnest and at a weight that you want to get back to. Maybe something as simple as writing your goals down on a piece of paper. Maybe something as complex as a dream board.
A dream board serves as a visual representation of your ultimate goal. Sometimes referred to as a “vision board,” dream boards are typically bits and pieces of your goal (like a postcard to the European city you’ve always dreamed of visiting) thumb-tacked onto a cork board or a similar set-up. Dream boards don’t have to be comprised to just photos. It can be anything that makes you think of your goal and how you plan to get there.
Dream boards, goal lists and detailed plans are effective in reaching your goals because most people are visual by nature. That means we are always seeing something and being distracted by what we see. A vision board helps you remain focused on the goal and the steps you need to take to reach that goal.
There are even applications and programs you can use to make a dream board for your cell phone or your desktop background. There is a website called Pinterest that is basically one giant dream board.
3) Create Actions
The biggest cause of failure to reach your goals is distraction. Distracted by life, distracted by work or family. One way to prevent distractions is to set deadlines and stick with them. If you make a to-do list for yourself, put the task with the closest deadline first so that it is completed on time.
The trick to setting deadlines is to make sure they are realistic deadlines. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, it won’t happen overnight and expecting TOO much of yourself is just as harmful as not expecting enough from yourself. Give yourself enough time to meet the deadline but not enough time to find more reasons to procrastinate.
Giving yourself a deadline allows you to be proactive in achieving your goals, as opposed to waiting for your goals to accomplish themselves. Deadlines puts a sense of responsibility onto your shoulders, the knowledge that no one else is going to do it for you sharpens your focus and urgency in meeting the deadline.
5) Identify and resolve obstacles
Distractions and unrealistic expectations are two huge obstacles that could prevent you from achieving your goals. Another obstacle is a lack of self-esteem or not knowing your own value. There is a common saying that no one will treat you like a doormat unless you lay down in front of them. That means if you set low standards for yourself, you will hurt yourself trying to reach down to meet them. Reach high instead.
To prevent becoming discouraged, make a back-up plan on how to identify and work around any obstacles that might pop up. Then make a back-up plan for your back-up plan. Say your goal is to go to the gym 5 times a week, but you had to work late and didn’t make it one day. You could give up entirely and never go to the gym again. That would be the easy thing to do. Or you could go twice as long the next day for a longer workout than usual. It is important to have determination to reach your goal, but you also need the flexibility to make the necessary changes.
6) Lean on friends and family for support
One way to increase your likelihood of successfully reaching your goal is by surrounding yourself with friends and family who know about your goal and support you. Having the support of the people closest to you enables you to have a safety net, someone to catch you and bounce you back up should you get down on yourself.
Relying on the support of your inner circle is a balancing act. It can be easy for you to use your friends or family as a crutch, allowing them to do the work for you. You can use the support to life you up, but you also need to be able to count on yourself. Be your own cheerleader.
Perseverance is continuing to work toward your goal, despite any obstacles or setbacks that you might face. Achieving your goals can be difficult and frustrating for anyone. It is easy to lose faith in yourself and convince yourself that you tried as hard as you could try, but it was impossible. That is why it is important to set realistic goals and give yourself pep talks along the way to reaching your goal.
Perseverance shouldn’t be confused with stubbornness. A stubborn person would be unwilling to make any adjustments or changes to their goal plan once it was started. But sometimes the unexpected happens and plans need to be modified to accomplish the goal.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to setting goals is not too set them too far in the future. Don’t put off for tomorrow what can be done today. There is a reason clichés are cliché – they’re usually true.
Many romantic comedy movies make use of the “five-year-plan” trope (such as, “In five years, I will be married with 3.5 kids and a house on the beach.”) but no one knows where they will be in a year, let alone five years. Give yourself time to complete a goal, but don’t procrastinate too long in setting your goals or making a plan of action necessary to achieve said goal.
When it comes to creating a goal or a list of ways to achieve the goal, brainstorming – writing down your thoughts as they come to you by impulse – is an excellent method to discovering what type of goals fit your personality. Every person has a unique personality with pre-determined strengths and weaknesses. By exploring your personality in relation to which goals you’re more likely to achieve, you are setting yourself up for success and are less likely to give up on the goal halfway through competition. Not everyone is made for being an Olympic athlete, though many of us dream of it as children.
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