Goal-setting is one of the most important things you can do in order to live the life you want for yourself and your family. While the benefits of setting goals are often talked about and generally understood, the consistent achievement of our goals is often a little trickier to master. The purpose of this article is to highlight some tips for developing good goal-setting habits and suggestions (not only for the new year, but all year round!) on how to navigate barriers that may try to get in our way.
There are three key messages that we invite readers to take away from this article:
- Be prepared – Develop good goal-setting habits through strong preparation
- Remain patient – Focus on the process on achieving your goals rather than the outcome
- Take control – No one is going to work as hard as you on the goals that are important to you and your family
WHAT ARE GOALS?
Goals are ideas you have about what you want to do with your life. They help you to take aim of a desired result that is important to you.
Our brains are wired to love rewards. We often get a kick out of even the most menial tasks, like folding the washing. Completion of these tasks gives us a sense of accomplishment; similar to achieving goals. It feels good to set a goal. We all know that kick of motivation that have on January 1st. However, how often do we actually achieve the resolutions that we set ourselves from year to year? We abandon them quickly. The reason is simple – we don’t often prepare or plan well enough for them. We don’t factor in the likelihood of setbacks or obstacles. Goals without a plan are just wishes. There is nothing wrong with having dreams and wishes – We invite you to actualise them by being prepared, taking an active role in their development and outcomes. Message 1: Be prepared!
WHY SET GOALS?
Setting goals allow us to gain control of our lives and where it’s going. They help us focus on and decide what is meaningful to us, while simultaneously motivating us to achieve them. Setting goals organises our dreams and wishes by giving us structure and a pathway to follow so that we may also track our progress and achievements. In doing so, it has the added effect of building our self-confidence and further driving our determination. Be Prepared.
HOW TO SET GOALS
Meaningful goals that truly inspire you to start working towards the life that you want, require time and planning. Allow yourself time to deeply consider what it is that you want in your life or those of your loved ones? Consider what is most important to you, your child and your family. What things would you most like to change? What would you most like to improve about your daily living? What would you like to be able to achieve in the future? What key areas are going to have the biggest impact on your life?
Then ask yourself:
- Why are these goals important?
- When do I want to achieve it?
- What resources do I have to help achieve it?
- What resources do I still need, and how will I get them?
- Who can help me? How can they help me?
- How will I know that my goal has been achieved?
- What are my next steps? And when will I take them?
Think about what you want in the coming year, then ask yourself why you want that — three times in a row. For example, if you want your child to learn how to read, ask why you want them to read. Then, if you want them to read so they can learn and have an education, ask why you want them to learn. Then, if your answer is so they can have more opportunities in life, ask why you want them to have more opportunities. By doing this, you gain a stronger sense of why something is so important to you, and why you want to achieve it.
In order to increase the likelihood of successfully achieving our goals, we need to ensure that our goals are SMART goals.
Specific – know exactly what you want to achieve. Give a detailed description based on your answers to the questions above.
Measureable – What will it look like when it is achieved? What proof will you have? How will you measure it?
Achievable – Weigh up the effort, time, cost of achieving the goal against the benefits of doing so, and the other obligations that you have in your life at the time.
Realistic – Can it actually be done?
Time – Can it be achieved in the time frame that you are setting?
How you describe your goal makes a big difference. Focusing on what you want to bring into your life, not what you want to avoid, will make you more likely to actually pursue it. That positivity can help motivate you when you find yourself slipping.
Focus on the process, not the outcome.
When we set goals, it’s easy to fixate on that magical ending when we’ve reached the goal and everything is better. But we can’t always control outcomes. We have to inch toward them, one step at a time. A common mistake is trying to change everything all at once. It is important to note that small changes lead to big changes.
Ask yourself, what is the smallest thing I can do today that helps me reach my goal? If you make daily choices that are consistent with your goal over and over again, you will eventually reach it. In doing so, you will start to establish good goal-setting habits.
Break your goals down into different time periods (short-, medium-, long-term). Short-term goals may be what you want to achieve this month, medium term goals may be what you want to achieve in 6 months, while long-term goals are what you want to achieve within the year. We can further shorten these goals to what we want to achieve this week, or this day in order to get to the next level. Message 2: Remain patient!
Don’t try to avoid shortcomings – plan for them!
Try and predict what challenges you may face and plan for them. Consider your resources and supports. Have a plan in place to activate these if needed.
When detours and roadblocks come up, remind yourself why your goal matters to you. Those simple reminders about why it’s important can refresh your motivation and keep you headed in the right direction. Moments of failure are inevitable, but most of us abandon the goal entirely when minor failures and setbacks start piling up. Go back to those questions earlier about what resources you have or need, and who can help. Don’t feel as though you need to do it all on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
No one is going to work as hard as you on the goals that are important to you. Take control. Have your say. Ensure your goals are clearly defined, make a plan and record your progress. Share why your goals are important to those close to you and ensure they understand. Message 3: Take control!
STICK WITH IT!
As we have discussed above, setbacks are going to happen. By being prepared, remaining patient and taking control, you put yourself in a much stronger position to overcome any challenges and turn your goals into a reality. What you do each day will start to form positive habits for goal achievement. Along the way, make sure that you build in reminders to help keep you on track and review your goals regularly. But most importantly, be sure to build in rewards for your achievements. Celebrate your milestones both minor and major – doing so will continue to drive your motivation and help to live the life that you want.