Achieving your goals can be hard.
You want to make them happen, but too often you (or those around you) seem to fail.
What can you do? How do the successful make it happen?
Don’t fret. In this article, we will discuss 7 simple steps you can take to achieve your goals.
1. Make sure your goal something you are passionate about (know your why)
One reason many people fail their goals is that they pursue goals they don’t really care about.
They may do it because they think they have to. Or maybe they are pursuing goals other people tell them they should, and they are trying to live out other people’s dreams or goals.
If you aren’t passionate about your goal, you are going to have a hard time making it happen.
Examine the goals you have. Are they goals that you want to do, or are you doing them because you think you have to or because it’s something someone else wants you to?
If you choose a goal you want, that you are passionate about, you are more likely to make it happen.
Know your why
Your why is why you are doing the goal, the benefit or end result you hope to get out of it.
For example, if your goal is to exercise and get into a certain shape, your why could be how you will feel, look, how others will see you, that you will more likely be healthy and alive to see your grandkids, and so on.
Make sure you know your why and write it down. Why do you want to do this goal? How will the end result benefit you and help you?
Write it down. Visualize it. See it.
Why is that important?
Because things aren’t always easy. There’s likely to be days ahead that you don’t want to do your goal. You may want to give up.
At those moments, pull out your paper with your why and remember why you are doing it. It can help you keep pushing forward.
What about goals that you must do that you aren’t passionate about?
Sometimes there are times when we have to accomplish goals that we don’t want to do.
For example, your doctor may tell you that you need to do certain things for your health, such as exercise or eating differently. Maybe there are goals at work that you must pursue for your job or career, and you don’t like them.
What about those?
In those cases, find your own reason for doing them. Find your own why. Look for your own motivation.
How will it benefit you? Will doing so help your career? Help you pursue other dreams? Affect your positively in other ways?
If you can find your own why for those goals, your own reasons to be passionate about them, that can make it easier to work on and accomplish those goals.
2. Write them well
Though this may seem a minor detail, writing your goals down and writing them well can have a major impact on the success of your goals.
Write it down
It’s been said that a goal unwritten is just a wish.
Writing it down has power. It makes it more real. It puts it in front of you. It helps you define what the goal is and isn’t.
Don’t just have a goal in your head, write it down and keep it in front of you to remind yourself of it.
How to write it
How you write it is also important. We can set ourselves up for success or failure just by how we write it. Here are some quick tips to do it well.
Make it specific and measurable
Make it specific and measurable. Vague goals don’t mean anything and are less likely to happen. In fact, with vague goals, it can be hard to know exactly what you need to do because you don’t really know what you are trying to accomplish.
Let me give you some examples:
Get in shape vs. lose 50 pounds (or bench 220 pounds or run a 5k in 30 minutes).
Do you see the difference in the goals? What does get in shape mean? How will you know when you get there?
By making it specific and having a way to measure it (the number, for example), you know exactly what your aim is and when and if you accomplish it. You also are more likely to be able to measure your progress along the way.
Have a deadline
Without a deadline, it’s easy to put off your goal. It’s easy to say “I’ll do it later”.
Deadlines are motiving. They push you to get something done by a certain time.
If we have three weeks to accomplish a task, it’s easy, for many of us, to use the entire three weeks to do it.
However, if we put a deadline on it, making it shorter, we often get it done faster.
If you don’t have a deadline where it’s never due, it’s likely you will never do it.
A couple of examples of deadlines:
Run a 5k in 30 minutes by June 1st.
Have a basic conversation in Spanish only by October 11 or know 200 Spanish words and be able to use them in a conversation by November 12.
Make it challenging
Yes, you want a goal that is humanly possible. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure with goals that are so hard that you quit or that you don’t believe you can do them in the first place (if you don’t believe you can do it, you aren’t likely to try).
At the same time, easy goals aren’t motivating. A goal that challenges you is.
Make sure you set a goal that challenges you a little. You may start with a small challenge and then get bigger over time if that helps.
Make it simple and concise
Make your goals simple and concise. They should be short and easy to read. One sentence is usually best.
Long goals aren’t motivating, they aren’t easy to read, and they easily get confusing.
Too often they are full of wasted words.
Some good examples:
Write the first chapter in my novel in two weeks.
Run 3x a week for the next 6 weeks.
Run a mile without stopping by September 2nd.
Lose 15 pounds by December 3rd.
3. Set yourself up for success
One reason many of us fail in our goals is that we set ourselves up for failure.
We want to lose weight, but we keep buying the tempting donuts we put in the cabinet.
We want to read more, but the tv remote is right by the seat we like to sit in.
We want to write our novel, but it’s too much work to get everything turned on, remove distractions, and started typing.
If you want to accomplish your goals, you need to make it easy for you to succeed.
The first step is to remove the temptations that cause you to fail.
If you want to lose weight and chocolate is hard for you to resist, don’t buy it! Or if others in the house still eat it, get them to hide it somewhere or put it in a locking cabinet.
If you are always tempted to watch television instead of doing something else, move the remote away from your chair or get someone to hide it from you or keep the television unplugged. This makes the temptation be “work” to do it, so you are more likely to resist.
If you keep getting distracted by socials or the internet on your computer when trying to work, get some blocking software that can remove that temptation.
Make it easy
Second, make it easy for you to do your goals.
For example, if you want to run in the morning, go to bed with your running clothes on or have them sitting on the floor in front of you ready for when you wake up.
Instead of the remote beside your recliner, move it somewhere else and have the book you want to read instead.
Have your computer on with the typing program running ready for you when you want to type your novel.
You can also make it easier for yourself by breaking down your goal into simple steps. Instead of having this giant, sometimes overwhelming goal you are trying to do, you have simple steps you can take written out.
You just do one step, then the other, then the other. Or it’s broken down into components and you just do the different components.
If your goal is broken down into steps, it’s easier to start and convince yourself to just do “one thing” instead of starting this overwhelming task.
Even if it’s something like writing your novel, breaking it down into chapters or subsections can help you write it. Setting up time to work on it “only for 15 minutes” or 30 minutes or however long can help make it more manageable.
4. Make it part of your everyday routine
Try to do something toward your goal every day, if possible. If you’ve broken down your goal into smaller steps and tasks, try to do at least one small task a day.
Make your goal part of your everyday routine. Try to do it at the same time every day after the same event.
For example, if you want to write, you would do it right after breakfast every day or after you make your bed or whatever you want your cue to be.
Over time, doing it after the same thing every day makes it routine and habit, and it becomes easier to do it.
If you are sporadic when you take action on your goal, it makes it harder to do it.
Review your goals
Make sure to review your goal frequently as well, every day is good. You can do it when you wake up and before you go to sleep. You can have it posted on your bathroom mirror or somewhere else where you will see it.
Whichever way you choose to do it, try to constantly remind yourself about your goals. Visualize the end result and what you are doing to overcome the obstacles.
5. Get help
There are a couple of ways you can get help toward your goal.
The first is to talk to people who’ve already accomplished a goal similar to yours. Ask how they did it, what issues and obstacles they dealt with, and how they overcome those.
Talking to people who’ve done it before can give you good tips and help you avoid pitfalls that you may not know even exist.
Secondly, you can get accountability. Making your goal public and finding someone who will hold you accountable to it can help you stay on track even when it’s hard.
You may also find a group of people who are trying to accomplish the same goal that you can work with to hold each other accountable and help motivate each other.
6. Get started
One of the biggest reasons people never finish their goals is that they don’t start.
They procrastinate and keep putting it off.
And, generally, the more you put it off, the harder it is to start (the law of diminishing intent).
Just get started. Doing something toward it! Take the first step!
Make it easy for yourself. Make the first step something easy, just to help you get going.
You don’t have to run 5 miles when you start running. Just do half a lap. You don’t have to floss every tooth – just start with one.
Just get started and going.
And don’t get bogged down in “research and planning”. One reason people don’t start is they think they have to know every detail and research and research and never actually do it.
It’s good to do some research on your topic and to plan out your steps (you want to!), but don’t get bogged down in it. Get what you need and START. You can research more as you go.
7. Reward and challenge yourself
Make sure to reward yourself as you go. You could have certain milestones along the way that, once you reach them, you will reward yourself somehow.
For example, starting out, each day you make it to the gym you could do something special for yourself.
Or maybe every week you get to it three times you do something, or whatever it may be.
Maybe once you hit a certain amount of words in your novel, you will treat yourself somehow.
However you do it, if you can reward yourself as you go, it can help motivate you to keep going.
Challenging yourself can also help. You could have a calendar and mark every day you work toward your goal. Over time, you want to keep those marks going, especially if you have a certain amount in a row. (And it’s also motivating to see all that you’ve done to accomplish it, looking back).
You may have a scorecard up showing how much weight you lost or words written so far.
You may use an app like habitica or liferpg or others to help gamify the goal.
Whatever it may be, rewarding and challenging yourself can help you stay motivated and keep you moving toward your goal.
There you have it, 7 steps you can take to achieve your goals:
- Make sure your goal is something you are passionate about (and know your why)
- Write your goals well
- Set yourself up for success
- Make it part of your everyday routine
- Get help
- Get started
- Reward and challenge yourself
Now to you: What steps are you going to take to accomplish your goals today?