How To Set Goals You Will Actually Keep
Wait a second. Did we just say we are going to talk about setting goals? Isn't that something we should save for the new year?
Yes, you did read that title correctly. And we wanted to talk about goal setting because this isn't something that we should focus on or try out just once a year. In fact, many of us probably experience a desire to change something about our lives or ourselves several times during a 365-day period.
Whether we want to learn a new skill, incorporate something that will create more meaning to our lives, improve relationships, or perform better at work, goals are an effective way to help us take more control of our lives and experience the joys of success and achievement.
But making these changes doesn't just come from wishful thinking. We have to set goals, make a plan, and take action. However, we may have tried this in the past only to find that we ended up not keeping or making our goals, and we get discouraged.
Well, if you have some goals you would like to set, here are 5 steps to help make sure you keep and achieve your goals!
Pick Something That Motivates You
Your goals have to motivate you. To do this, your goals should be about something that is important to you, something that you already see value in achieving. If you don't have much interest in what you need to do to accomplish your goal or in what the outcome will be, you won't have much motivation to put in the work you need in order to accomplish your goal.
Something that can help you determine whether your goal is motivating enough is to write down why each goal is generally valuable and especially important to you.
Follow The SMART Goal Outline
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Here's a brief overview of how you can follow this outline:
Be sure to set goals that are clearly defined. This includes goals (such as "Reduce my spending on eating out by 50% by X date") instead of using general guidelines or wishes ("Spend less on eating out"). Having clear and specific goals gives you a direct course of action and makes it easier to know what you are working for, thus giving you greater motivation to accomplish it.
Your goals should challenge you but should still be attainable. Create a goal that provides you with some way to measure your success in smaller pieces along the way. For example, let's say you want to lose 30 pounds in the next six months. This in itself is a measurable goal because you can weigh yourself to see how you are doing. However, you can take it up a notch by setting smaller measurable goals that will help you reach your final goal. This could be something like: Lose 5 pounds every month. Then, you only have to focus on losing 5 pounds at a time, instead of feeling overwhelmed at trying to lose all 30.
Measurable goals also include using specific dates, amounts, or any other sort of relevant information that you use to determine your progress.
Your goals should challenge you but still be attainable. Goals are meant to push you, but if it is something too far out of your reach, it will be easier to lose motivation and give up. Let's say you have a final goal of wanting to start your own business. Having this as your one and only goal is technically attainable, but it can seem overwhelming or out of reach as you move along, which can weaken your motivation.
Instead, try setting smaller, more attainable goals that will push you and help you reach your ultimate goal of starting a business. These smaller goals could include making a business plan, finding investors, picking a product and testing it, learning any new skills you may need for your business, finding a location or setting up your online shop, etc.
The goals you set should be relevant to your life and what you want to learn or accomplish. Your goals should help move your life, career, relationships, etc. in the direction you want. Make sure your goals are focused; having inconsistent or more scattered goals can cause you to lose motivation.
In order to successfully achieve your goals, they must have a deadline! That way you know when you have completed your goal, and you can celebrate! Having a deadline also creates a feeling of urgency that will continue to motivate you to reach your goal, and perhaps even reach it faster than the original deadline you set!
Make A Plan
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Many of us have things we would like to accomplish or do, but unless we have a plan to make it happen, those thoughts will just stay wishes. Creating a plan can include the SMART goal steps, giving you a clear and specific outline on how you are going to accomplish your goals. When you make your plan, identify each individual step you need to take to accomplish your goal. Each step should be clear, attainable, measurable, and have a deadline.
Keep in mind that the steps and tasks you outline in your plan should not be too complex. The steps you take to achieve your goal should push you, but they should be attainable and simple. Don't put too many things into one step. Just focus on one thing at a time, and you will easily be able to see your progress!
Write Your Goals Down
Don't just write down your goals; write down your plan, too! And keep your written goals/plans somewhere you will see it every day. When you write down your goals, use positive language that uses action verbs instead of language like "I want to" or "I would like to". This will reinforce your commitment to your goals and help you avoid getting sidetracked.
As you accomplish the steps in your plan and reach your goals, cross them off your list! This is a great way to keep you motivated because you can physically see your progress and see just where you are in completing your ultimate goals.
Don't Give Up!
Remember that accomplishing a goal is something that takes time. You aren't going to get where you want to be right away. Be patient with yourself, and encourage yourself to keep going. You can set reminders on your phone or in your calendar if you forget to stay on track. Be sure to also set aside time for you to review your progress and recognize just what you have accomplished (especially when it feels like you may not have accomplished as much as you think). If you feel that your plan isn't quite working as you had hoped, make some adjustments that are more attainable or clear, and keep pushing forward.
Goals are a great way for each of us to become who we want to be. Goals can help us plan for the future, learn new skills, become better at something we already do, and so much more. And you don't have to wait until the new year to set goals! Take some time today to see what you want to work on, and set goals that you can not only reach but also use to improve every aspect of your life.