This article was co-authored by Tracey Rogers, MA. Tracey L. Rogers is a Certified Life Coach and Professional Astrologer based in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Tracey has over 10 years of life coaching and astrology experience. Her work has been featured on nationally syndicated radio, as well as online platforms such as Oprah.com. She is certified by the Life Purpose Institute, and she has an MA in International Education from The George Washington University.
There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 16 testimonials and 96% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.
This article has been viewed 1,319,808 times.
Everyone has dreams. Whether they are big or small, they have vast importance in our lives. Achieving these goals is related to our happiness and well-being.  X Research source McGregor, I., & Little, B. R. (1998). Personal projects, happiness, and meaning: on doing well and being yourself. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(2), 494. It is a way to increase self-esteem. The process of striving for our goals can also help us develop into better people. So, whether your dream is to earn a million dollars, become an artist, or be a world-class athlete, don’t wait. Start working toward your goal today.
Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources.
Don’t let your goals and resolutions fall by the wayside. Chances are that to achieve your dreams and live a life you love, those goals and resolutions are crucial. Goal setting and goal achievement are easier if you follow these six steps for effective and successful goal setting and lifelong resolution accomplishment. See how effective this recommended path is for you.
Deeply Desire the Goal or Resolution
Napoleon Hill, in his landmark book, "Think and Grow Rich," had it right.
"The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat."
So, your first step in goal setting and achieving your dreams is that you've got to really, really want to achieve the goal.
Visualize Yourself Achieving the Goal
Lee Iacocca said, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."
What will your achievement feel like? How will your life unfold differently as a result of your achievement?
If the goal is an object, a trip, or anything that can be visual in nature, some gurus of goal setting recommend that you keep a picture of the item or destination where you see and are reminded of it every day. If you can’t picture yourself achieving the goal, chances are you won’t.
Make a Plan for a Path to Follow to Accomplish the Goal
Create action steps to follow. Identify a critical path. The critical path defines the key accomplishments along the way, the most important steps that must happen for the goal to become a reality.
Commit to the Goal by Writing It Down
Lee Iacocca said, "The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen."
Many professional consultants and coaches agree completely and recommend this step to accomplish your goals. Write down the plan, the action steps, and the critical path. Somehow, writing down the goal, the plan, and a timeline sets events in motion that may not have happened otherwise.
It is as if you are making a deeper commitment to goal accomplishment. You can’t fool yourself later. The written objective really was the goal. People have pulled written goals out of their desk drawers years after writing them down only to discover that they have achieved them. Written goals are powerful.
Check Your Progress Frequently
Whatever you use, a day planner, an online calendar or notetaking system, a smartphone, or a handwritten list, make sure that you check your progress frequently. People have been known to start their day by looking at their goals and then, scheduling time or action steps to move closer to the end they have in mind. If you’re not making progress or feel stymied, don’t let your optimism keep you from accomplishing your goals.
No matter how positively you are thinking, you need to assess your lack of progress. Adopt a pessimist’s viewpoint; something will and probably is, going to go wrong. Take a look at all of the factors that are keeping you from accomplishing your goal and develop a plan to overcome them. Add these plan steps to your calendar system as part of your goal achievement plan.
Adjust Your Plan if Progress Slows
Make sure that you are making progress. If you are not making progress, hire a coach, tap into the support of loved ones, analyze why the goal is not being met. Don’t allow the goal to just fade away. Figure out what you need to do to accomplish it.
Check the prior five steps starting with an assessment of how deeply you actually want to achieve the goal. The more deeply you want to obtain it, generally, the more motivated you will feel in the face of both optimism and pessimism.
The Bottom Line
This six-step goal setting and achieving system seems simple, but it is a powerful system for achieving your goals and resolutions and even living your dreams. You just need to do it. Best wishes and good luck on your journey to accomplishing your life goals and resolutions. Enjoy the journey.
To succeed, you first have to set yourself up for success.
In making New Year’s resolutions, it might seem like you’re setting yourself up for failure. So many people underutilize gym memberships, quickly revert to old habits or never take up new hobbies they’ve been meaning to master.
For entrepreneurs, breaking resolutions might mean neglecting networking, spending money rather than saving or foregoing opportunities to learn new skills.
But this year, you’ve resolved to make a major change. To ensure that you’ll follow through with your goals, you have to do more than want to achieve them. In most cases, realizing your ambitions will require a series of lifestyle changes.
We’ve sifted through Entrepreneur’s archives to help prime you to reach your goals in 2017. Read on for some of our best advice, and keep in mind that success is a habit, not an act.
1. Make a list.
In order to achieve your goals, first you’ll have to determine exactly what they are. Don’t let this process overwhelm you — rely on instinct. Set a timer for three minutes and get all of your goals down on paper without worrying about how difficult achieving them will be. After that, go back and brainstorm what changes you’ll have to implement or lifestyle adjustments you’ll have to make in order to make your goals a reality. Whatever you do, don’t tuck your list in a drawer somewhere, but refer to it regularly.
2. Keep a clean workspace.
Clutter doesn’t just physically get in the way, it’s scientifically proven to distract you. Think of it not only as a physical mess, but a mental one. Extra objects on your desk compete for your attention, and your brain must constantly reconcile the presence of these items with the ones that are actually pertinent to your work. Speaking of presence, consider that some of the stuff that’s been sitting there awhile is likely dragging you out of the present moment. As for any items you might feel symbolically attached to, ask yourself a simple question: Is this thing inspiring me to achieve my goals, or does it serve another purpose?
3. Minimize other types of distractions.
Your desk might look like a Pinterest lover’s pristine dream, but if you fail to eliminate other distractions, your minimalist workspace will do you little good. Find ways to shut out family members (except for in an emergency), social media notifications and personal phone calls and appointments. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it, even if no one is there to supervise you. If you’re doing professional work, look the part — or at least change out of your pajamas.
4. Wake up super early.
Sometimes, no matter how much you try to sequester yourself from daytime distractions such as kids, errands or even breaking news, it’s hard to keep focused. One solution that’s helped several prominent entrepreneurs find time to work toward their goals is waking up early. Sure, our bodies become programmed to waking up at the same time every day, and it’ll be difficult to adjust at first. Don’t expect to add three extra hours to your morning in the matter of a day. It takes preparation, patience and peace of mind to become an early riser.
5. Make the most of your weekends.
It’s important to rest and recharge during the weekend, but it’s also a smart idea to prepare yourself for the week ahead, including how you plan on achieving your goal. When you wake up on Monday morning, don’t let the sound of the alarm clock overwhelm you with the dread of mundane chores. On Sunday night, set aside some time to select your outfit for the following day or week, plan meals and organize your to-do list. You’ll rest better, minimize stress and have more time for the work you’re passionate about.
6. Stop procrastinating.
You might embark on a given task only to find yourself wandering over to the fridge, checking email or Googling symptoms of an obscure illness (we’ve all been there). While procrastination may seem inevitable, try the 15-minute rule: Set a timer for 15 minutes, and commit to working on something you’ve been putting off for ages. Who knows? You might gain some momentum and not feel like stopping once the time is up.
7. Find people to help you.
No matter how driven you are, you’d be foolish to think you can achieve success single-handedly. Even if someone else isn’t aiding you directly, it’s helpful to establish a few individuals whom you can emulate, who will inspire you to persevere or hold you accountable.
For example, a mentor can dispense valuable advice so that you won’t have to learn basic lessons the hard way. You might benefit from a sidekick or cheerleader to keep you motivated and hold you accountable. Find specific people who can help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
8. Play the role.
Think about who you want to be. How will that new-and-improved version of yourself act? How will you think, speak and live? Chances are, you’ll want to portray yourself as a humble yet confident person. Sit up straight rather than slouch. Look others in the eye and listen to what they say rather than gaze into the distance or let your mind wander. Be deliberate about the words you use. If you can learn from others, make a good impression and discipline yourself to show the world your true aspirations, success will more likely follow.
9. Conduct periodic progress check-ins.
It’s not enough to incorporate new habits and ditch old ones. You have to make time to consistently evaluate yourself to make sure that you’re on track. You might do this once you’ve achieved smaller goals that will build toward a larger one, or if you’ve given yourself a deadline (say a year), schedule quarterly review sessions. During these check-ins with yourself, reflect on what you’ve been doing and determine whether it’s working or how you might revise your plan. Let what you’ve accomplished inspire you to keep going.
Creating goals in the workplace can help you achieve personal and professional success. They can provide motivation for improving skill sets, learning new skills or growing your responsibilities. Setting timelines and taking steps to achieve your workplace goals can help you excel in your role and advance your career.
In this article, we explain the importance of workplace goals and how to achieve them.
What is the importance of setting goals in the workplace?
Setting goals is important because it helps you define how you should move toward achieving professional short- and long-term objectives both for your personal career and your company. Setting and achieving workplace goals can also show management that you are committed to the success of the organization. Some benefits of setting workplace goals are:
- They give you direction. A well-planned goal helps you move forward in the direction you need or want to go. For example, if you want to become a sales manager someday, writing down that goal with specifics on what steps you will take to achieve it can help you to begin working on your goal right away.
How to achieve goals
Use these steps to help you set and achieve workplace goals to advance your career or succeed in your role:
1. Create goals that inspire you
When setting workplace goals, choose ones that will motivate you. Think of tasks or accomplishments that will advance your career or relate to your core values. Your desire to accomplish these goals will help you remain inspired and work toward achieving them.
2. Write down your goals
Writing out your goals can reinforce them and provide a visual reminder to work toward them. Consider writing them in a place that allows you to access and view them often, such as on paper, a calendar or a goal tracking application. Assigning a timeline to each goal will allow you to see when their due dates are approaching.
3. Use SMART goals
SMART goals are a methodology for setting goals that makes them easier to track and accomplish. Using this method gives you clear directions on how to define and plan to achieve your goals. Here are the components of a SMART goal:
- Specific:. Write your goals in a well-defined and clear manner so that you or anyone else in the workplace can understand them. Always use precise action words. For example, “Increase sales” or “Earn a promotion” are unspecific goals, but “Increase sales by 10% this month” or “Become assistant manager by the end of the year” are specific goals, and their clarity makes them easier to work toward.
alt=”SMART Goals” />Image description
4. Reevaluate your goals periodically
It is important to look at the progress of your goals regularly. Depending on the depth of the plan, you can reevaluate daily, weekly, monthly or biannually. Look at the actions you’ve taken to move forward with your goal, and if they are successful, continue to do those things. If you find that the goal is harder to achieve than you originally planned, make adjustments so you can increase your progress.
For example, if you have committed to writing five blog posts per week for the company website, and you are finding it difficult to accomplish those numbers, try writing only four posts per week or changing your schedule so you have more time to write. Speak with your team members or management and get approval for the new plan.
5. Find support and encouragement
Surround yourself with people who encourage you to accomplish your goals. Spend time with positive coworkers, friends, family members and others who believe in what you are trying to achieve. A kind and encouraging word can inspire you to keep moving toward the completion of your goal.
6. Visualize your success
One of the reasons you created goals in the first place was because you wanted a change. Stay passionate about the “why” of your goal. Always visualize yourself succeeding, and use your goals to help you be happy and successful in the workplace. One of the best aspects of goal setting is enjoying the results at the end of successful achievement.
7. Reward your progress
You can use rewards to help motivate you to complete your goals. Keep positive about the small steps you are making toward the plan, and reward yourself when a time-bound goal is met. Develop a system to celebrate your progress, such as taking a break or having a snack for achieving small goals during the day, or attending an event or taking a vacation after accomplishing larger goals. This way you can maintain the excitement of—and commitment to—achieving any goal you set.
Do you set the same New Year’s resolutions every year? Do you recommit to the same goal, promising yourself that you’ll finally finish it?
If you answered yes, know that you’re not alone. Many people are stuck in the same cycle of setting goals, forgetting about them or failing to complete them, and then setting the same goals again with a renewed (but temporary) resolve to meet those goals.
But you can break the cycle. Continue reading to learn about the goal setting process and get the most out of your business, your team, and yourself.
What is goal setting?
Some people may have trouble sticking to goals because they don’t distinguish their goals from more casual, everyday self-improvement efforts. Just because you decide to start running every day doesn’t necessarily make that a conscious goal. So let’s revisit what goal setting means.
Goal setting is a purposeful and explicit process that starts with identifying a new objective, skill, or project you want to achieve. Then, you make a plan for achieving it, and you work to complete it.
Instead of just running with no particular purpose, a true goal would be more along the lines of starting a training program to complete a specific race, say a Thanksgiving Day half marathon, which requires much more careful planning, motivation, and discipline.
Why is goal setting important?
When you set goals, you take control of your life’s—or your work’s—direction.Goals provide you with focus. The decisions you make and actions you take should bring you closer to achieving those goals.
Setting goals keeps you moving, increases your happiness, and significantly benefits your organization. When you set goals, you create a vision of what your life or your business could look like. Then you start pushing yourself and your team to get the best results possible.
Learn how the Lucidchart team sets and tracks goals through a system called OKRs.
What is goal-setting theory?
Proposed by industrial-organizational psychologist Edwin Locke, goal-setting theory recommends how to set the most effective kinds of goals. Locke found that employees perform better and are more motivated to complete goals if those goals are difficult.
In other words, you can’t cheat. The easier the goal, the less you’ll work to achieve it. If you set hard (but not impossible) goals, you’ll actually put in the highest level of effort.
This article goes into detail on the other important aspects of Locke’s theory, like setting realistic goals and being self-motivated. Keep reading to get the most out of your personal goals or have your employees be effective when setting their own.
How to set goals in 7 steps
If goals are so important, why do we fail to achieve them? Because we don’t plan the steps to get there.
A goal setting process forces you to think about the journey (in other words, how you’re going to complete your tasks) instead of just the end destination. Take a look at the steps below to get started.
1. Think about the results you want to see
Before you set a goal, take a closer look at what you’re trying to achieve and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this goal something you truly want?
- Is it important enough to pour hours of time and effort into it?
If you’re not willing to put in the time, it may not be worth pursuing.
If you create a long list of goals to pursue all at the same time, you may have a difficult time achieving any of them. Instead, use the questions above to determine which goals matter the most to you right now, and then focus on those few.
2. Create SMART goals
Once you’ve zeroed in on what you actually want, ensure your goal meets the SMART criteria:
The most important part of SMART goal setting is to make your goal specific so you can clearly track your progress and know whether you met the goal. The more specific you can be with your goal, the higher the chance you’ll complete it.
For example, many people set goals to lose weight, but they don’t always decide how much weight they want to lose and when they want to accomplish this goal. A specific goal would be “I want to lose 25 pounds by the Fourth of July.” This goal provides an exact amount of weight to lose and an end date to do it by.
3. Write your goals down
When you write your goals down, they become real and tangible instead of a vague idea that resides only in your mind. Once you’ve written your goals down, keep them somewhere visible––put personal goals up on your mirror or near your computer screen, put team goals up on the walls next to everyone’s desks, and include company goals in internal presentations.
This tactic reminds you to keep working on your goals daily. As you're writing down your goals, use a positive tone so you stay excited about completing them.
4. Create an action plan
Many people decide on a goal but never create an action plan to determine how exactly they will meet that goal. Your action plan should include the overall goal you’re trying to meet and all the steps you need to take to get there.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your action plan. Go back to your elementary school days, and get creative. Write out your goal using crayons, markers, or colored pencils, for example. According to Forbes, creating an action plan this way activates a different part of your brain and cements the goals in your mind.
For something more professional, use Lucidchart to create an organized, visual action plan.
5. Create a timeline
As part of your action plan, use a timeline maker to help visualize roles, tasks, milestones, and deadlines to achieve your goal. Once you’ve set those dates, try to stick to them as closely as possible. A timeline creates a sense of urgency, which in turn motivates you to stay on schedule and finish your goal.
Timeline Template (Click on image to modify online)
6. Take action
Now that you’ve planned everything out, it’s time to take action. You didn’t go through all that work just to forget about your goal. Every step that you take should lead to another until you finish your goal.
7. Re-evaluate and assess your progress
You need to keep your motivation strong to complete your goal. Consider scheduling a weekly evaluation, which could include measuring your progress and checking your schedule. Once you see how close the finish line is, you’ll feel more motivated to push through to the end. If you're a little behind schedule, make necessary adjustments and keep going.
Start setting goals
The process of setting goals makes you succeed faster and more efficiently. It can fuel your ambition and help you achieve tangible results. A goal setting process will help you determine how to set goals that are specific, timely, and realistic.
Create a clear roadmap for reaching your development goals with the performance development planning process.
Change is inevitable. It’s what life is all about. Many changes unfold naturally as life moves forward. Some changes appear from out of the blue, beyond your control. But there are many things in your life that you can initiate on your own. You can take an active role in creating a specific outcome or goal, and in large part, you can determine the kind of life you want and choose to live.
I’m sure many of you have wrestled with an idea about what you want to do, something you want to accomplish that you feel will somehow make a big difference in your life. Maybe you’ve even gone as far as setting your sights and taking some action toward achieving this change. For many of you, what may initially come to mind when thinking of a significant change is the idea of breaking unhealthy habits—losing weight and/or stopping smoking are great challenges for many, often a lot more frustrating and harder to conquer than one can imagine.
However, the change or the goal you wish to make could be many other things: creating a more satisfactory, fulfilling and balanced lifestyle, doing the work you love to do, living in a place that resonates best with who you are, or finding a relationship that honors and nurtures you.
There is so much written on this subject that you may be wondering why I’m bothering to write about it again. Well, first of all, you never know when someone is ripe for hearing something as if for the first time, where what they think they already know is challenged and, suddenly, what they read or hear seems new and different, and “they get it”.
Why is it that some people are very adept at making change and creating possibilities while others fail over and over again in their attempts? Are there essential pieces of the puzzle that are missing in the process of trying to go from here (old behavior) to there (new behavior)? Rather than just giving you a list of what you have to do to accomplish what you want, I want to give you some idea about what’s involved in the process of successfully making change.
The basic and most essential principle about making change is that you’ve reached a point where you have made a firm decision about achieving the specific goal you’ve chosen. In other words, there’s no question in your mind about this choice and the pursuit of it; this change or goal is the absolute focus of your attention and you have committed fully to accomplishing it.
This may sound overly simplistic but it’s a vital point to make because there’s a big difference between wanting to make a change and knowing how to go about doing it effectively. Some people think they want to make a change but a.) “They don’t have the time now,” b.) They don’t know whether to pursue a change or goal, or not; in other words they can’t make a decision to begin with, or c.) They’re too overwhelmed about what they need to do in order to make the change or achieve the goal because they simply don’t understand the process.
A team of psychologists (Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente, Changing for Good) studied how individuals were able to successfully make personal change. They observed about one thousand people who altered their lives by making permanent change for the good. Their study determined that there were six essential stages that brought people through to change:
- Precontemplation: People in this stage are really not interested in changing at all. They don’t see a problem with the way things are (even though others around them do).
- Contemplation: People recognize that they may have a problem, or that they want to make some significant change, but just aren’t ready to do anything about it.
- Preparation: People are planning to make change in the near future and are just putting things in order to take the next step.
- Action:People take real steps to change their behavior and to shift things within their environment that makes change more possible.
- Maintenance: The job here is to stay on course; to continue to make progress moving forward and to resist returning to old ways.
- Termination: This stage represents the culmination of the change process. People feel secure that they have changed for the good and for good without fear of succumbing to temptation or returning to old habits or patterns.
The researchers found that this process is not a linear one; rather, more like a spiral that circles around, moving upward on successive turnings. Those motivated to change often cycle through the process many times before they finally successfully
Complete the process.
Once you’ve made the decision to change and/or to accomplish a specific goal, there are a few steps you will need to take to carry you through to the end.
Choose one goal at a time. Although there may be several goals you may want to accomplish it’s important to narrow down your choices to just two or three that are essential for where you are in your life at any given time. Then choose one and give it all of your attention, time, energy, and focus. Once you’ve completed that goal and have made sure that it has become part of your life, you can go on to the next goal.
Create an action plan. This helps you to keep the goal in focus and allows you to plan the progressive steps toward your goal. Choose a reasonable time frame in which to accomplish what you wish to change. Break your action plan down into smaller, measurable steps—immediate daily tasks or goals and tasks/goals to accomplish along the way, ultimately arriving at your desired goal. Breaking a process down into smaller steps keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and allows for satisfaction and small rewards along the way.
Write your goals down. Committing your goal and the steps that you’ll need to take to achieve it, in written form, makes the goal tangible, gives it structure, making it more real. In other words, you’ve written a clear plan that describes the necessary actions you’ll need to take to achieve your goal. As you move through the process, step by step, you can revisit your plan, revising it and tweaking as you go.
Visualize what you want to accomplish. It’s often easier to wrap your brain around a picture. Use all of your senses while you imagine achieving your goal. In many ways, this serves as a counterbalance to the logical, rational, step by step thought process necessary to accomplish what you want. (Remember creative visualization which requires three things: the desire to create what you visualize, the belief in your visualized goal and the certainty that you will attain it, and the acceptance of having whatever you have visualized as your goal.)
Check your progress. This can be weekly, monthly, every six months, or annually. Doing this helps you stay on course. If there’s a glitch, don’t despair. Reassess your action plan, make adjustments, and press on.
That’s the process of change in a nutshell. Before you plan on making the next big change in your life, assess all of your previous attempts to achieve a specific goal in order to figure out why you didn’t see it through to the end. Next time, decide what you really, really want, create an action plan, stick to the plan, and just watch what happens.
I went into the summer with big plans, mainly to meditate and exercise a lot more. Then I went on vacation, and then the kids were home, and then I had a bunch of work travel…you know how it is.
Here’s the thing: Intentions are never enough. Even full-blown goal-setting isn’t worth much if you don’t do it right.
My error this summer was that I didn’t make a specific, science-based plan; I just vaguely wanted to do more exercise and meditation. Enter behavioral psychologist Sean Young. His awesome book, Stick with It, summarizes all the science around how to change your behavior. And setting goals is, at its core, about behavior change.
Using Young’s framework—as well as the research I wrote about in The Sweet Spot—I’ve freshened up my plan for how my kids and I set our goals (and institute behavior change) before we go back to school. While here I use my desire to exercise more as a model, this can obviously be applied to many things—and to working with kids to set their own goals for the school year. I’ve created a goal-setting worksheet to make it all easy here.
1. First, state the big goal. What would you like to accomplish in the next three months or so? My hope is that I’ll get back to an efficient but well-rounded exercise routine that includes a little stretching, strength training, and aerobic exercise in about 20 minutes, six days per week.
This isn’t a ton of exercise, but because I can do it in so little time, it is realistic. (Six days a week seems ambitious, but I have given myself the option of combining two days, for three longer workouts if, say, I’m traveling or something.) One thing I’ve learned a million times, over and over: Realistic is better than sexy. I’ll take a small success over an ambitious failure any day. Small successes show us that we really can change our behavior in a lasting way.
2. Next, break this larger idea down into long-term goals. Long-term goals take up to three months to accomplish. My long-term goal is that by the end of the year, I’d like to have had 10 “streaks,” or weeks in which I have completed my exercise plan.
3. Break it down again, into short-term goals, which take one to three weeks to accomplish. I have three short-term goals:
- Work with a trainer to set up my workouts (the specific exercises and stretches)
- Memorize the circuits and learn to do them properly
- Have two “streaks” (entire weeks where I complete my plan) in a row before Labor Day.
4. Now, break your goals down into very specific, ridiculously easy baby steps. What can you do today? Tomorrow? My first step was to call my friend Aaron, a trainer, who put together the exercises for me. Today, a baby step is to learn the warm-up stretches he gave me. Try to break your baby steps down until they are so easy you feel little or no resistance to them.
A way to tackle a daunting task.
5. Set up your environment to make things easier. Our environment dramatically influences our behavior. We like to think our behavior is all our personality and preferences, or that it’s the strength of our iron-clad will that determines our success, but, actually, we are hugely influenced by the people, places, and technology that happen to be in close physical proximity to us.
This means that to be successful in reaching our goals, it’s very helpful to set up our environment to make things easier, to create structural solutions. This usually means removing temptations—if your goal is to stop checking your phone while you drive, keep the phone in the trunk. And making sure that what we need is easy and convenient—if your goal is to eat more kale, keep a lot of kale in the fridge, and a list of restaurants that serve it.
I made exercising even easier for me by moving my yoga mat and other equipment into my office. I work out at four in the afternoon, when my attention at work is starting to flag and I’d rather exercise than work…and everything I need is right behind me!
6. Involve other people, even if you are an introvert. We humans can often get ourselves to do something we might otherwise resist if it makes us feel more a part of a tribe or a clan—if it deepens or increases our social connections in some way. Other people can also work as a bit of external willpower, getting us to do something we’d rather blow off.
I scheduled a series of Skype calls with Aaron, both so he can make sure that I’m doing the exercises correctly and because I look forward to talking to him. I can tell you that if I didn’t have a call with him today, I’d be very tempted to push my workout time out a little bit, so that I could finish this article. For me, changing the routine is a very slippery slope—10 more minutes at work can easily become 20 and then 40…until it’s time to make dinner and there is no time for exercise.
What are your goals?
7. Identify why your goal is important to you. Think less about what you want to achieve and focus in on how you want to feel. Identify a “why” for your goal that will motivate you over the long haul.
We do better when we let go of our logical reasons for why we want to do something. Why? Because research shows that good, solid, logical reasons for doing something—like exercising because we want to lower our blood pressure or ward off cancer—don’t actually motivate us over the long haul. It turns out that emotions are far more motivating than achievement goals in the long run.
So shoot instead for a feeling-state that you want more of (for example, maybe you want more happiness, confidence, or calm). I want to establish this exercise routine because I know it will increase my energy. Feeling awake and energetic is very important to me.
8. Make it a part of your identity. As in: I am a person who exercises. I’ll be tracking the days I exercise, so that I can look back and see: Yup, I’m an exerciser. Collect evidence that you are the type of person who does whatever it is that you are trying to do.
9. Make the behavior more enticing. We human beings pursue rewards: a pretty little cupcake, attention from a mentor, a sense of accomplishment. When our brains identify a potential reward, they release dopamine, a feel-good chemical messenger. Dopamine motivates us toward the reward, creating a real sense of craving, wanting, or desire for the carrot that is being dangled in front of us.
Rewards need to be immediate or, even better, built into the routine when possible. This is why I listen to audiobooks while I exercise; when I look forward to listening, I make exercise more enticing.
10. Make the behavior more habitual. Once a behavior is on autopilot, everything is easier—we don’t need much willpower to enact our habitual behaviors. Can you make your behaviors related to accomplishing your goal habitual in any way? Do this by anchoring behaviors in existing habits or routines, or even a schedule, using a When/Then statement: “When I do X, then I will Y.” For me, it’s “When it’s 4pm and the reminder pops up from my calendar, then I will exercise.”
What are your goals for this new school year? Leave them in the comments below.
Ideas, insights and wisdom on how to better achieve your goals. For a more systematic way to improve your goal setting skills, please check out the course Goal Mastery Academy.
How To Accomplish Your Biggest Goals
“I love boats and have always thought about getting one.” I heard again today from a Whole Foods employee. She asked me what I did and why I was going to the office on a Sunday. “I’m a very rare person who gets to love what I do.” my answer seemed to fall on deaf ears.
This scenario always has me counting my lucky stars, so to speak. What keeps people from doing what they love? In short, it’s limiting beliefs. Most people don’t even try simply because they cannot comprehend that another path exists than the one they are on.
There are three easy steps to accomplishing a goal.
1. Pick something you really like, that drives you, that gets you out of bed in the morning and that feeds you energy. The hardest part of this step is weeding out all the many things that would be fun to do, and that are fun, and narrowing it down to something that Tony Robbins would call ‘chunkable’ in his teachings. This step was the hardest for me, and I couldn’t find the answer by simply asking myself what I wanted to do, I had to flip around the question and ask “what do I know I don’t want to do.” and add a few items to that list. For me, I had a few clear things I knew that I did not want to do for a living. Spending my days in those activities would have been hell on earth. Something magical happened when I listed those items on a note card. It was like a veil was being lifted and I could see more clearly what I did want to do. From then on I frequently solve hard problems by flipping around the question. Tony Robbins is always teaching, if you want a better answer, ask a better question. Sometimes you have to ask a handful of questions to see the path of answers ahead.
2. Make a decision to do something towards your goal. This can be in either one of two directions. Towards your goal, or cut off something that is in the opposite direction. Best example, if your goal is to learn a new language and you sign up for a class on Wednesday evenings, then you can’t also join a Wednesday evening community club. Your options are, take the class, or better yet find a community club that is also a language class. In business we call the things we give up an ‘opportunity cost’ for making a decision. The idea here is that the decision must be ‘action’ you have to show up to the class. Whatever your goal is in #1 above, decide. Tony Robbins again points out that this word originates in Latin and French and literally means ‘to cut off’. So, you haven’t actually made your decision until you’ve done something.
3. Commit to outcomes, whether they are benchmarks or completion. It’s no secret that ‘big goals’ such as creating an aluminum boat building brand takes time and there are endless tasks associated in the process. So we focused on smaller goals. Ours were simple, a. finalize design into something we could build with our available tools and resources, b. collect people, tools and resources and set a ‘start date’ for physical construction. Our first model of the boat was made of cardboard. c. break things down to chunkable tasks, whether they be minute, hourly, daily, weekly etc. List them out in chronological order, and review them daily. Often I write note cards and carry them in my pocket of the big things that need to get done. Rarely are these big things urgent tasks, but when taken together day after day and week after week, they turn into months and years. Now, we’ve gone over one million in revenue, we have compiled the tools and people necessary to build a complete boat inside of 40 working day, and we have assembled a wonderful group of employees, vendors and customers.
Many philosophical ideas can become real, but they only do so when action is taken by the believing leader with a specific goal in mind. I recommend going deeper into these three steps and honing your own worthy goal, take the first action, and then commit to the outcome and keep on working until it’s accomplished. Chances are all of these steps will change your life, and day by day you will grow and those goals will continue to get bigger and bigger.
What is one goal you wish you could accomplish? Chances are, you have no problem naming it, so what holds you back from achieving it?
Life has a nasty habit of interrupting the best-laid plans, but more often than not, it’s our own minds that get in the way of our goals. We make a litany of excuses for why those goals don’t get checked off our lists, and we become our own worst enemies.
Let this be the end of all that.
Here are a few suggestions — and a dose of tough love — from TED speakers to help you reach your goals.
1. Define your fears instead of your goals.
Think about what you’re putting off for the “right moment.” What holds you back? What are you afraid of? Write down the worst things that might happen if you fail, suggests investor and author Tim Ferriss. Then think about what you’ll do if they happen and how you could prevent them.
Tim calls this “fear-setting,” a practice that can help you break the cycle of self-paralysis. “I can trace all of my biggest wins and biggest disasters averted to fear-setting,” he says.
2. Banish the word “fine.”
Why are your goals on the back burner? Maybe because of the F-word: “fine,” says motivational speaker Mel Robbins. That dirty word lulls you thinking that subpar situations — feeling unfulfilled at work, carrying an extra 50 pounds, having a ho-hum relationship — are good enough that you can put off the effort to change them.
Consider this your wake-up call: it’s time to stop settling for “fine” and set your sights on “good” or “great” instead.
3. Approach your obstacles with curiosity.
You may find yourself sidetracked at times by a little voice that asks, “Wouldn’t it be more fun to watch Netflix for the next six hours?” That’s not a feeling to fight — it’s a feeling to examine. Curiosity is your best weapon against distraction, says psychiatrist Judson Brewer.
When you find yourself procrastinating, look at what’s going on in your mind. Are you bored? Scared? Frustrated? That insight can help you figure out what you need to resolve to get back on track.
4. Embrace your near wins.
Behind every triumph, there are countless near wins — those times when you come close to success but don’t quite get there. Those are valuable, says historian Sarah Lewis. They show you what worked and what you can improve, and they give you a chance to iterate.
“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit,” she says. By embracing your near wins, you can push yourself to attain more than you ever imagined.