“Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”– Joshua Marine
Working towards your goals is one of the driving factors in life.
Whether the nature of your goals is big or small, long term or short term, goals are what give our lives purpose and direction.
Reaching our goals isn’t always easy, but this makes it even more rewarding when we do achieve them.
But to get where we want to be, self-discipline and planning is essential. “A goal without a plan is only a dream”- Brian Tracy.
So in today’s article, I would like to share with you several methods that you can use to achieve your goals successfully.
Write your objectives
Having objectives in mind is good, but writing them down on paper is even better. By writing down your goals, they will feel real, and you’ll be more inclined to want to achieve them.
Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, from the University in California, led a study on goal-setting with nearly 270 participants. The results found that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.
Likewise, hang your written goals somewhere, you will see it regularly, such as your bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen. Frequently looking at your goals will encourage you to visualize them, and in turn, help you achieve them faster!
Be specific: What do you really want?
I think being specific is incredibly important when trying to reach a goal. “because your brain can figure out how to get there”– Tony Robbins.
Additionally, in 1979, researchers conducted a goal-setting study on a graduating class at the Harvard Business School, looking at the long term effect of setting clear goals.
The study asked recent graduates from Harvard’s MBA Program, “Have you set written goals and created a plan to achieve them?”
From this question, the researchers found that:
- 84% had not set goals.
- 13% had goals, but didn’t write them down and had no plan on how to achieve them.
- 3% had both written specific goals and plans to accomplish them.
Ten years later, in 1989, they interviewed the same class of graduates. The results were astounding. The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had not set any goals at all.
Even more remarkable was that the 3% who had written goals and set a clear plan were earning, on average, ten times more than the other 97% combined.
I think the numbers speak for themselves in this study. So if you want to increase your chances of reaching your goals, make sure you’re specific and create a clear plan on how you’re going to achieve them. Vague goals lead to vague results.
Make sure you’re very clear about what you want to achieve.
Have you noticed that every new year, at midnight, we decide on our New Year’s resolution? We say, “This year, I will do more sports, eat better and become super healthy!”
But how many of our New Year’s resolutions do we really keep?
Apparently not that much, according to 92% of us. A study led by the research institute “Statistic Brain” showed that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals.
Why is this? Well, besides deciding on them when you’re drunk, often, our objectives are too vague!
Instead, our New Year’s resolutions would be much more achievable if we were specific on how we plan to achieve them. For example, if you decide to go to the gym more, decide that you will go to the gym every Friday from 7 pm to 8 pm.
Not only will being specific help you when trying to achieve your goals, but it can also help in other areas of your life, such as job hunting.
Set realistic and achievable goals
It’s good to aim high and be ambitious when setting your goals, but it’s important to find the right balance between ambition and being realistic.
Setting unrealistic goals can cause you to feel unmotivated and overwhelmed, so make sure you set a clear plan of action from the start.
Work backward from your end goal and set achievable milestones. If you hope to achieve your goal one year or further in the future, make sure you create detailed steps to track your progress and remain motivated.
By setting a target every week or month right now, it will help you achieve your goal in the long run.
Understand the importance of positive self-talk
Our thoughts become our actions, so the more positive you are about your goals, the more motivated you’ll feel to achieve them.
So instead of saying, “during the week, I won’t eat Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream for my dessert.” (Even though Cookie Dough ice cream is the best of the best), you would use more positive language, such as “during the week, I will eat an apple and grapes for my dessert.”
This helps our mind focus on the positives rather than the negatives, making our goals feel more achievable.
Numbers matter: Quantify your objectives and precise deadline
To achieve your goal, you must set a deadline. Aim to set deadlines that are realistic in comparison to the size of your goal. By setting a deadline, not only will you be one step closer to reaching your goals, but it will also help you avoid procrastinating.
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.”– Diana Scharf
For each sub-goal you achieve, be sure to celebrate and reward yourself. By doing this, it will help you stay consistent, motivated, and on track.
A study conducted by Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach, from Chicago University, revealed that “Although the pursuit of long-term goals is primarily motivated by the desire to receive delayed rewards, immediate rewards are a stronger predictor of persistence in goal-related activities.”
However, you might not always achieve your goals by your set deadline. If this is the case, don’t blame yourself, but instead try to understand why this happened and adjust your plan accordingly.
Share your goal
As mentioned in my article about being consistent, the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that you are 65% more likely to complete a goal if you share it with someone.
By sharing your objectives, you will:
- Receive encouragement from those you share your goals with
- Be held accountable: Share your goals with someone who will check in on you and regularly ask about your progress. By doing this, you will subconsciously be more motivated to reach your goals because you’ll want to share your achievements with those around you.
Share your goals with the right people
On the other hand, be mindful of who you share your goals with.
Pessimists, dream breakers, and skeptics must be kept away.
Surround yourself with people who will provide constructive criticism, rather than those who discourage or talk down your achievements.
It’s not uncommon for people to reflect their insecurities and worries onto others. So if you notice those around you being negative about your progress, make a conscious effort not to discuss your goals with them again. This doesn’t mean cutting them out of your life altogether, but by sharing your goals with the right people, you will ensure your progress and hard work isn’t hindered.
Share your objectives with your allies and share your silence with skeptics.
In the book “Create the job of your dreams” by Alexis Botaya and Corentin Orsini, they say
“You can’t lose motivation and time with those who would rather see you as a companion of failure than a figure of success.”
So be sure to surround yourself with those who encourage you to progress, rather than those who slow you down in your journey.
Find and write your “why.”
It’s important to know what it is you want to achieve, but it is equally as important to understand why you want to achieve it.
This “why” is what will ultimately keep you motivated. By outlining your motivations behind your goals, you will want to work harder and push yourself every day to achieve them.
Without a reason why you want to achieve your goal, there is no goal. So, discover why you want to reach this goal, write down why you care about achieving it and what it means to you. The more specific you can be, the better.
Have a plan: What do I need to do to achieve it?
As the earlier Harvard study highlighted, having a goal is good, but having a plan plays a key part in achieving success.
Remember, the 3% who had written goals and concrete plans were earning, on average, ten times more than the other 97% put together.
A plan is what actions you are willing to take to reach your goal.
A goal without a plan is likely to remain as a thought.
Your plan is like your mind’s GPS. It will show where you need to go to reach your destination.
Tony Robbins explained that there are three questions you need to answer if you want to reach your goals:
- What do you really want? (Your goal and result)
- Why do you really want it? (Your motivation)
- What do I need to do? (Your plan)
In this article, we have discussed a variety of techniques and strategies that can help you reach your goals and set realistic objectives.
Achieving what we want in life is an exciting experience, one that gives purpose and meaning to our work and overall life. However, the journey we take to achieve our goal is just as important as the goal itself. So remember to enjoy the process, take each day at a time, and believe in yourself.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” –Ernest Hemingway