How may goals have you set over the years? If you are like most people, the answer is Many. Most likely you have reached some of your goals — and others have met with Epic Fail. What makes it more likely that you will reach your goal, and what makes it difficult for us to succeed? Before you jump in to your next action plan, here are some important things for you to consider first. Research on goal setting says: people who set goals are more determined, more motivated, and more likely to achieve success — IF they do some foundation work first.
Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Are you considering going after something you want in your life? If so, these 5 tips will help you build your strong foundation for success.
1. Know why you want to reach your goal.
What is important about it? How will it improve your life? Does it bring meaning and purpose to your life? Will it advance your career? Research has shown that we stick with things that we believe are valuable. That does not mean just in terms of money; it also means things that enrich your life in some way. If you set out to do something without knowing why you want it, you are more likely to quit before achieving it. The motivation and purpose are not there. When the going gets tough and you face obstacles, you will keep going if you know your why.
2. Know how you feel about working towards your goal.
Take time to check in with your emotions. When you imagine going for your goal, what happens to you? What emotions do you experience? Are you excited, scared, hesitant, angry, or some combination? These emotions will give you valuable information on what you need to do next. If you are excited, use that feeling to give you energy when the going gets tough. If you are scared, take a deeper look at what is going on.
You may be afraid of failing, lack resources, or need more information. In this case, ask yourself what you need that will help you feel more confident. It may be more information, support from family/friends, or other things. Most importantly, if you dread the thought of starting, this is your clue that the goal you have set may not be the best thing for you. You will become discouraged and even find reasons to quit. Tap in to your emotions; they have important things to tell you.
3. Know the specifics of your goal.
Research has shown that vague goals are a recipe for failure. It’s hard to picture success when you don’t know exactly when you have reached it! For example, many people make New Years’ Resolutions to “get in shape.” By the end of February, most of them have given up. The reason? That goal is too vague. Get in shape how? What does being in shape look like? feel like? How would someone know when he or she has reached that goal? Examples of getting in shape that are more specific are “lose 10 pounds,” “be able to do 25 sit-ups,” and “eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.” These goals are measurable and it is obvious when the goal has been reached. When you decide on a goal, drill down to its specific parts. For more on this, take a look at SMART goals. There are many online resources. SMART goals will help you get specific about goals, timelines, and knowing when you get there.
4. Know how your life may change.
Imagine this scenario: you decide to go back to school a to finish her degree. You are excited about your new career path — but forget to take into account how your life would be different. Your daily schedule, the amount of time to spend with family, and even your budget would be affected by your work towards your goal. You might find yourself with less time to spend on things; you may need to rearrange your schedule; and your priorities may change. Be especially careful about spending quality time with your family and friends when you go after a goal, and keep them informed.
When setting your goals, think about the ways your life will look different. Look at these categories: Time, Relationships/Family, and Money. You may also think of a few others. Knowing how things can change will help you be prepared.
5. Know and trust in yourself.
This may be the most important one of all. If you set a goal and believe you will get there, you are much more likely to succeed. You would not have this dream in your heart without a reason! When something calls to you, believe that you have what it takes. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses where you will need support. Know the satisfaction you will get from accomplishing each step along the way. Call on your spiritual path or faith to help and guide you as well; that is part of you.
Know it, trust it, and work it. You got this!