Setting goals is one of the easiest things to do, assuming of course that you don’t struggle with setting goals. But what happens after you set a goal is infinitely more important, and often much harder to do. Today, I want to share with you 3 simple tips to help you go from goal setter, to goal achiever. So come along with me as I dive in to this topic that so easily infuriates many of us.
If you’re anything like me, you can fill a notebook with all the goals you have set for yourself that have never been accomplished. The good news is, it’s not too late to start setting, and achieving manageable goals daily. For me, setting goals is a bit of a taboo topic. See, I know that there are things I want to accomplish on a daily, monthly, or even lifelong basis, but I have always struggled with articulating those goals into a coherent, identifiable message. If this sounds like you, keep reading to learn how you too can increase the frequency of success when it comes to achieving goals.
When I think about setting goals, my mind almost immediately travels to the “yeah but” universe. This is because I almost never write down what my desired result is, so I get lost in all the possibilities. This is dangerous for a couple of reason, chief among them being the fact that you will be a ship without a rudder. When we write down the goal, it accomplishes a couple of things at once; 1, it forces us to think through the “yeah buts” and arrive at the place we desire most, and 2, it allows us the opportunity to be as precise as we want from the beginning. Take for example a weight loss goal. Which one do you think has a better chance for success assuming all other variables are the same; the person who says to their buddy “yeah, I plan on losing a few pounds before bathing suit season.” Or the person who writes down “My goal is to lose 10-12 lbs. before May 15th. I will achieve this goal by increasing my exercise from weekly to daily and cutting back on my intake of sugary or carb heavy foods.”? I know where I would put my money.
This may seem like an obvious example, and that’s because it is. But I used this because it clearly illustrates the silliness of expecting a “wish” or “plan” to take shape if we just talk about it. Now admittedly, some people are better than others at articulating exactly what it is they want, but that does not mean that one can not learn how to be better. That may even be your first goal that you precisely articulate on paper.
I know this sounds like a bad idea but hear me out. One of the main reasons that anyone fails to achieve a personal goal, besides the aforementioned reason, is that they run into a speed bump or two. If you are not prepared for contingencies, they will almost certainly discourage you, sometimes badly enough to give up. That’s why it is so important for you to be your own worst critic and fail…on purpose. More accurately, fail on paper, before your plan is ever set in motion. Take some time to poke holes in your own plan. If you have trouble thinking outside the box, consider asking a close friend or spouse to help you think through it. The more possibilities that you can account for at this stage, the better your chances for success will be at later stages. And don’t be nice…necessarily. Take this opportunity to get out all the negative thoughts you carry around about yourself. Writing down the ways you can fail may even help you recognize some areas that you can work on for personal growth.
After this step, you should begin to see a plan emerging for how you will accomplish the stated goal. Keep in mind that all your previously mentioned “failures” will help you buffer yourself during this planning stage. Since you have already considered the ways that it might not work, you can more clearly imagine the ways that it can work.
This tip is a phrase that I heard, at least weekly, when I served in the military. It served me well then, and it can do the same for you. The thing is, if you have come this far and are ready to put your plan in to action, then you are willing to accept the additional burden of embracing the suck. Don’t get discourage by the implication of the phrase. Instead focus one the opportunity you have to begin writing a new chapter for your life, one that involves you being a more productive you. Because if you have struggled thus far in accomplishing your goals, you are going to have to change some things to change the result.
When you begin, you are going to have a surge of energy and motivation. This is normal and serves an important purpose. But too often, once this initial surge is gone, we give up or lose focus. And for good reason. Who wants to keep doing something that they are not as interested in anymore when there are so many other things begging us for time and attention? The answer…you do! This is why you accomplished steps 1 and 2. Now that you have begun to implement your plan, and things are not going so well, you can look back at your sheet(s) of paper that has your hand-written plan on it. This will allow you to reconnect with the you that wrote down the goal in the first place. The you that thought through every conceivable hiccup and detour, and developed a plan of action to triumph over it.
Do not underestimate yourself. And do not ever compare yourself to others. The starting line to life is a moving target. There are no two people on this planet that are lining up precisely side by side in the game of life. Stay focused on your goals, and only look at someone else goal if you feel that you can help them along. It’s like I tell my kids, who tend to compare things with one another (e.g. looking at the others’ bowl of ice cream to compare amounts) The only reason you should be comparing, is to make sure the other has enough. Be grateful for where you are in life. You are not alive and well by accident. Celebrate your victories, but keep in mind no one else is obligated in any way to celebrate you, so don’t expect it.
My hope is that this article has provided you with a few simple tips that will help you achieve more in 2019. I would love to keep the conversation going. If you have any thoughts or questions regarding the content in this article, or any other questions for that matter, feel free to comment or email me.