Setting goals and reaching them is easy, right? We figure out what we want then keep working towards it.
Well, here are a few little tips for you.
- When setting your goals make sure they are meaningful. Research says that goals that are based on income are hard to sustain. They’re not as motivating as a goal that has personal meaning in it. So, setting a goal of earning $250 000 is less likely to get you to your destination than setting one about being the best in your field because excellence is important to you. Income goals can be motivating if they have meaning built in like having the goal of earning $250 000 so you can comfortably contribute to your family and your community. Being part of something larger than yourself like family and community are often things that bring people meaning.
- When setting goals use the Goldilocks formula. Remember not too hot, not too cold? Well, goals are the same. Not too detailed, not too broad. Too detailed and it all seems like too much to do. Result: overwhelm. Too broad and non-specific you don’t know what the next step is. Result: stagnation. Either way it slows your progress and makes you feel stressed. Get your goals to be ‘just right’ and see how much faster you reach them.
- When setting goals know which ones to focus on when. There are different stages in any project you set out to achieve. Sometimes the end can be a long way off so the outcome is too far away to be a motivator. This is when you need to focus on process goals – how you’re progressing. So not ‘I want to lose 5kg’. That’s an outcome goal. At the beginning you want to focus on the daily activities that are taking you there – eating healthier today, exercising today – all things about the process that give you a sense of achievement. When you get closer to the goal – say when you’ve been healthy for a couple of months and have already lost 4kg – then you focus on the outcome of 5kg. Then it’s totally do-able, is more motivating and you haven’t ‘failed’ along the way.
- When setting goals remember that willpower is a limited resource. So don’t get discouraged if you lose motivation sometimes. If you are feeling your willpower wane, try to plan your day so you do the hardest bits of the work towards your goal in the morning. We spend a lot of our day self-regulating. The more you’ve used your self-regulation, the less willpower you have for staying on track for your goals. Or give yourself a big rest somewhere in your day and then do the goal-focused work. Or if you have to keep pushing through give your brain some sugar and fat (dried fruit and nuts) so it has the juice to keep you going.
If you implement just these four strategies you will find that you achieve much more of what you set out to.
Let me know how you go with making the changes.