If you count yourself as a motivated, ambitious person who wants to go places, experience life, and make every second count then goal setting to help you achieve those ambitions is probably a big part of who you are. Everything is within reach when you plan for success. No matter if it’s climbing the corporate ladder, travelling across the globe, really getting on top of your fitness, starting a business of your own, or even running a marathon, it’s all possible with the right mindset and good preparation. Perhaps you have your goals in mind, but something is stopping you from getting there, you may need some guidance on how to get going. Here’s how to make sure you go the distance with these tips to help you make those aims a reality.
Focus On Your Inspiration
Achieving your goals is all about choosing the right ones in the first place. You are much more likely to put in the hard work and dedication required if your particular ambition is something you truly believe in. Never let anyone else define a dream for you – whether it’s parents telling you to follow a certain career path or a partner urging you to lose weight, if you aren’t doing it for yourself you will never fully succeed.
Likewise, never set a goal just because someone else has. Your ambitions should be personal to you – it’s the only thing that will inspire you forward when the going gets tough. You have to be fully engaged with the process and really want the change you are seeking. When those factors are in alignment you then have a motivation and a sense of purpose that gives you the ideal foundation to get started.
Take A Proactive Approach
A little planning is good, but too much planning can become an excuse not to actually get started. If you’ve always dreamed of something in particular, like taking that professional qualification to get your career to the next level, training to run a half marathon or writing a novel, you need to take the first step to making it happen rather than waiting for a mythical perfect time somewhere in the future. In truth, the perfect time to take the first step is now. You don’t have to move mountains overnight. Write a 100 words of your first chapter. Download the Couch to 5k app. Research courses with Wilfred Laurier Online. Whatever it is that takes you one small step closer to achieving your ultimate ambition. Doing something positive creates a forward momentum. That in turn can lead to other actions. The act of taking that first step is actually more important in many ways than what the step is. Just find a way to start out and the rest will follow.
Many secret dreams languish and never get achieved. A huge motivating factor is telling thw world what you intend to do- it instantly creates an accountability which may just give you the kick start you need. After all, no one likes losing face by publicly claiming something they don’t even try to achieve. It also helps to be around other people with similar goal, so join that creative writing class or find a local running club. Not only will it be hugely inspiring to be around people who aspire to or have achieved the same successes you covet, they will also be able to encourage you, offer practical support and feed in their own valuable experiences. It can make a real difference having someone to update with your progress.
Develop A Positive Mental Attitude
In order to succeed in reaching those goals, you need to control and banish negative thoughts, as they are a huge barrier to success. If you constantly have a voice in your head telling you you’re bound to fail then guess what? You probably will! The phrase ‘fake it til you make it’ is very appropriate here. Studies show that positive visualization is a technique that really helps you succeed – professional athletes often use it. Picture yourself enjoying the rewards of what you are setting out to do- slipping into that perfect outfit with no love handles, crossing the finish line of that race or running your small business and enjoying it. Focus on the details – what do you hear, how does it feel? Having a strong vision of your success will help you overcome any doubt that creeps in along the way and get you to your ultimate goal faster.
Use Progress Milestones
Pursuing a huge ambition can feel pretty overwhelming. Make it less daunting by planning in realistic milestones along the way. Don’t think about how far you have to go until the end result. Focus on reaching the next phase of the process. So, if you have a goal to lose sixty pounds, just concentrate on losing ten by Christmas initially. You can even schedule in little rewards along the way to help with motivation. Using a goal monitoring app that helps encourage you to hit streaks of good behaviour and form new habits can also be useful.
Make Your Goals Smart
To make things happen you need clarity of mind and lots of focus. Creating SMART goals can really help with this. SMART is a winning formula for planning and time management that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound.
- Specific – Setting your targets with quantifiable boundaries keeps you on track. Don’t say ‘I want to save more money’, say ‘I want to save 20k for a house deposit’
- Measurable – Making your progress trackable ensures that you can constantly keep on track and not lose your way. Hiding behind vague intentions is a way to hide failure from ourselves.
- Attainable – Of course our aims are supposed to be challenging, but it’s equally important to make them something that is within reach – with a little stretch. Set too hard a limit and you risk not being able to achieve it and setting yourself up for failure. The old saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ definitely applies here.
- Realistic – If you aren’t being honest with yourself, you are making success impossible. Spend some time considering what hurdles may come up and how you’re going to tackle them. If you expect the unexpected, it’s much better than getting derailed by the first curveball that comes your way.
- Time-Bound – Setting deadlines is a way to spur yourself on to those achievements. Don’t say ‘I want a promotion at work’, rather say ‘I want the Head of Marketing role by next quarter’
Making your personal goal setting ‘smart’ gives you an achievable framework for success and guides your efforts. You can then allocate your time to the actions that will have the most impact and it also ensures that you aren’t wasting time pouring effort into a goal that cannot be achieved.
Aim For Balance
Especially in the early days, some personality types can become a little addicted to goal setting. Although achieving what you want in life is important, it’s also the case that you need balance. Being too single-minded in your pursuit of something can be bad, as you’re at higher risk of exhausting yourself and burning out. You are only human and you need rest, recuperation and diversion. This could mean scheduling in rest days to make sure you aren’t wearing your body down too much with relentless workouts, or it could mean putting limits on the time you allocate for your start-up business so you don’t end up pulling 80 hour weeks. The key here is to use your schedule to support you. Factor in slots to have some downtime and give yourself a break – every bit as important as scheduling in your work periods. Set aside enough time each week that you can comfortably work towards your milestone. Say you want to enter a 10k race. First of all, set up time to create a race training plan. This will help you get balance rather than over training and risking illness or injury. The schedule should contain the correct amount of rest days to allow your body to keep a good energy flow.
Get Comfortable With Failure
The very word can set us cringing, but actually, how you deal with the inevitable setbacks is one of the most important factors in your journey. Instead of seeing failure as something shameful, think of it as an essential component of your learning curve. Failure teaches us a whole host of valuable lessons and is far more useful than easy victory. It’s also a fundamental part of success itself, because it’s the result of a creative process of experimentation. How you find your way around these roadblocks is a skill that you can apply to any of your aims in life. Take the time to acknowledge a failure and use it as a learning experience- evaluate what you can do differently to keep on track to your dream. Any successful entrepreneur will admit to learning to embrace failure as a useful part of their eventual achievement. So rather than brooding, take the lesson and then move on.
Get Help Along The Way
You don’t have to go it entirely alone when it comes to life achievements. Sometimes, it’s only possible to go so far alone, before you need a fresh perspective to spur you on. The opinions of friends and family and their practical support can be tremendously helpful, so don’t be afraid to ask. Equally, seeking out communities of people who have relevant experiences can really yield some crucial practical advice. Seeking out a mentor is a great idea, especially if it’s an area you have limited experience in, such as fundraising for a charity or preparing for a triathlon.