Setting goals is important, but sometimes it’s hard to believe it will make much of a change in your life. I felt this way until recently when I began to rethink my idea of setting goals. Not only did I find I was more motivated, but I also started seeing actual progress in the goals I set. All it took were some new strategies and a redefinition of what it means to set goals. Here are a few tips that can change the game as you race towards the finish line of achieving your goals.
Make a Goal and Make a Plan
When I realized that the sticky note of New Years' resolutions on my desk was the extent of how I set goals, I wondered if my definition of setting goals was part of the reason why nothing ever came of them. It is easy to think that setting a goal means coming up with an idea of something you want to accomplish and “setting” it by writing it down or telling others about it. In reality, that process is just scratching the surface of what “setting a goal” should mean to you.
I redefined the term to mean not only picking an end-goal, but also the process of making a plan, clearly defining the small steps that will get you there, and finding a way to keep yourself accountable. I only started seeing progress when my goals were no longer statements on a sticky note, but checkboxes in my planner, consistent physical reminders in my environment, and progress reports I made to my friends.
Consistency is Key
In terms of strategies to help you set goals that actually lead to changes, there are some tips we have all heard but need to start taking a lot more seriously. To start, goals take time. We all know that important goals can’t be achieved overnight, but that means you need to be ready to put in place a long-term plan. The steps you make should be consistent and placed into your weekly schedule, rather than having vague benchmarks that you hope you end up finding the time to meet. Your goals also need to be action-based. There are plenty of resources on how to set SMART goals or workbooks to walk you through the steps. While I sometimes feel constrained using those frameworks, the central theme that your goals should be realistic and actionable needs to be incorporated into your goals no matter what!
Find Your Why
Lastly, here are some strategies that I didn’t expect would make such a big difference in setting achievable goals. First, you need to know why you want to achieve that goal. This means getting past the desire to do something because everyone else is doing it or because other people will be impressed. If no one in the entire world ever knew or saw you reach this goal, why do you still want to achieve it? When you realize why you really want something, or that maybe you don’t actually want it, working on the steps to get there becomes a passion, rather than a chore.
Finally, I learned that sometimes it is better to set fewer goals to give yourself the time and space to invest in them, rather than spreading yourself too thin. I believe it is better to achieve one goal than to set ten and never get around to them. By picking only the goals that were most important to me, I have been able to see my available time lead to visible progress. I hope these tips help you start the race towards achieving your goals!
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