Goal-setting is a popular topic of discussion at the start of any new year. With new beginnings comes a renewed sense of purpose & drive. However, despite our good intentions & desire to succeed, many of the goals we set at the start of the year end up fizzling out. Why is that? Nine times out of ten it’s because there’s no plan or strategy in place to achieve them!
With 2019 upon us, I have put together a little guide to setting and smashing your goals. Make this the year you make a resolution and finally stick to it!
Be realistic about your goals & have faith you can achieve them
With a plan & a healthy dose of hard work, almost anything is possible! But you also need to be realistic about what’s achievable, especially when it comes to your time frames. For example, you can’t make a decision that you want to be doctor in January and expect it to come to fruition by December. But you CAN make a decision that you want to be a doctor and be enrolled in Medicine or a bridging course by December – and that’s one step closer to your goal!
You also need to wholeheartedly believe you CAN achieve the things you want. Belief in yourself is the key ingredient in success. When you believe you can, you find a way. When you don’t, all you find is excuses why you can’t.
Visualise what you want
There are many leaders and coaches that swear by visualisation when it comes to achieving your goals. You need to get really clear on what it is you want, and what that looks and feels like to you. You can create a vision board, you can meditate on it, or you could talk through your vision with a trusted friend or family member. Whichever visualisation technique you choose, focus clearly on what achieving that goal feels like and what your life will be like once you get there. Having clarity and picturing yourself as already successful is extremely powerful.
Know your why
The first thing to do when setting your goal is to ask yourself honestly why you want / need to achieve it. This is very personal, and it needs to be in order for it to matter to you when the going gets tough (which it inevitably will!). For some, it will be the financial reward of achieving a career progression goal. For others, it will be achieving more of a work life balance, or getting healthy so you have more time and energy to spend with your family. Or maybe you want to learn to dance to give you a fun and healthy way of creatively expressing yourself! Whatever it is for you, be honest – then write it down. Look at it whenever you feel unmotivated, as it will reinvigorate you.
Make a plan & write it down
A goal without a plan is just a wish, as the saying goes. In order to achieve anything in life you need to take consistent, daily action towards that goal. It is worthwhile spending a couple of hours developing this as it will be invaluable in keeping you on track. Set yourself an ultimate goal or target then devise a daily plan by working backwards from that. Break it up into milestones or smaller goals so you can track your progress. Chop it up even further by breaking those milestones into daily tasks that you need to tick off. Write this all down, put it in your diary, whatever works for you. Just make sure you have a clear, written plan that can help keep you accountable.
Commit & stay focused
Commitment is made up of the decisions and choices you make every day to stay true to your goal. It takes a lot of effort. When you’re getting exciting new opportunities and offers thrown at you, it’s not easy to keep choosing your own goal over the sparkle and flash of something else. Perhaps you want to be a successful writer and have identified that by writing an article every single day for a year will help you get there. Come Saturday night, you haven’t done your article, but your friends are begging you to come out for drinks. The easy (and more fun!) decision would be to go and hang out with your friends, but that’s not in your plan is it? Choosing to stay in and write your article instead of going out is hard, but it’s what will get you one step closer to your ultimate goal. That’s commitment.
When you’re finding it hard, revisit your purpose (your ‘why’) and your plan. Remind yourself how far you’ve come and practice that visualisation. It will get you through the tough times.
Assign yourself an accountability buddy
If at all possible, team up with someone else on their own goal-setting journey and keep each other on track, motivated and accountable. This could be a friend, your partner or a colleague. Having an accountability buddy uses the same principle as training with someone else. You’re more likely to stick with it if you think you’ll be letting down someone else if you don’t. Meet regularly, even if it’s just 20 minutes a week over a coffee. Chat through what you want to achieve next, and any issues or challenges that have come up for you. Let them do the same. The idea is that you will be each other’s go-to support, and be the kick you up the bum you both need if you slack off. You want this to be someone who is as motivated as you are to hit their goals, or it will be waste of everyone’s time.
Ask yourself what you can do right now that will get you closer to your goal – then do it. It doesn’t matter how small it is. Make a phone call, send an email, set a meeting with that colleague who’s doing the job you’d like to eventually do…just do it now. Procrastination is a dream killer. It’s easy to put something off when you think a day or two won’t matter. But if you can put it off today, who’s to say you won’t put it off again tomorrow or the next day? Take action. 5 minutes out of your day right now, is one more thing you can tick off on your plan, and one step closer to success.
Celebrate the small wins along the way
Give yourself a little reward for ticking off all your planned tasks in a day, or hitting a particular milestone. Make it something you know you’ll look forward to, like treating yourself to dinner out on a Friday, or buying a nice bottle of wine to share with your partner. Celebrating your small wins will keep you excited and motivated, and make the whole experience more pleasurable. But you’ll need to have the willpower to refrain from treating yourself if you DON’T hit your goals!
Revisit, refine, recalibrate
As you get closer to achieving what you set out to do, you will likely find that the goalposts will change, curveballs get thrown, or an unexpected challenge gets thrown at you…it’s all part and parcel of the process. Nothing worth having in life ever came easy, as they say. But problem solving is the fun bit! Turn that issue into an opportunity to let your creative thinking shine. Look at your plan again, and work out how you need to tweak it in order to set you back on the path to your inevitable success.
Consistency is everything
Consistency is key!! There is almost no way you can fail if you know what you need to do and the pace you need to work at, and do that every day. Achieving one big goal is nothing more than completing small actions on a consistent basis. So establish your why, make a plan, and get cracking!