Why is goal setting so important? Why do people set goals? One of the main reason why setting goals is important is that it is human nature to strive when in pursuit of a goal. Having great goals makes us feel alive, gives meaning to our life. That’s the reason why many people feel empty after they retire from their job if they don’t take the time to set new goals to achieve.
In our professional life, we generally have goals set but we usually don’t take the time to set clear goals for our personal life. Many people spend a considerable amount of time to plan their next vacation in details, looking for the best location, comparing prices, buying the necessary equipment but how many people really take the time to plan their future? If you start planning everything in advance and constantly setting goals you will achieve way more that you would normally achieve.
However, there is no point setting goals you cannot achieve. That’s why you need to have a clear strategy to ensure you will achieve your goals. With the right strategy, most of your goals are achievable. Most of the time the reason people fail to achieve their goals is not because their goal is to hard, but because they don’t have the right strategy.
How to achieve personal goals
The biggest mistake is to set goals that are vague. For instance, “I’m gonna lose weight” or “I want to become rich”. Your goal should be very clear. Clarity is the key!
I will lose 10 kilos by March 31st
I will earn $10,000 per month by December 31st of next year
Decide how much and when.
Decide on the day or even on the hour by which you will achieve your goal. The clearer the better. It is very important! You should constantly try to find a way to measure any of your goals, because otherwise you cannot be held accountable and cannot track your results. When you find a way to measure your goals it will become suddenly more real, more tangible.
Choose a goal that you know you can achieve but that will be quite challenging
You want a goal that will push you out of your comfort and make you feel better once you achieve it. If the goal is out of reach you will have no motivation or you will feel desperate and your self-esteem will suffer. Don’t compare yourself with other people. No matter how small is your achievement, if you had to push yourself a little bit to achieve your goal it is a big success that you should celebrate. It might not be a big deal for others but it is for you. And you matter!
Ambitious goals are good, but they should be followed by massive actions in order to be achievable.
Write all the reasons why you want to achieve that goal
Why is it so important for you? Make sure your goal truly matters to you and is not something you are doing just for your family, your friends or your colleagues. Intrinsic motivation is always better than extrinsic motivation. Make sure you don’t spend years pursuing a goal that is not going to make you happy.
Write down your goals.
Writing down your goals makes them more real. A pen and a piece of paper can work wonder when you think about your life! Make sure you write your goals using positive words and read your goals everyday.
Make the necessary preparations before starting your goal
If you would like to be thinner, spend all your time with skinny people. Have all your meals with skinny people – Vasant Lad
You have a limited willpower. Save it as much as possible. Don’t try to become a vegetarian if your father is a butcher! (just an image :)) Try to create a friendly and supportive environment that will help you achieve your goal. If you want to become a vegetarian buy recipe books, fill you fridge with vegetables and fruits, join a vegetarian association before getting started.
Share your goals with as many people as possible.
For instance, if you want to lose 10 kilos, make a public announcement at work in front of your colleagues. Tell all your family members about your goals. Whenever possible, tell people you encounter that you are on a diet and you will lose 10 kilos by March 31st. You should commit yourself so that you have no way backwards. Make it your reality. If you don’t feel confident enough to do that, it means that your goal might be too ambitious for you right now and or you don’t really want it. In that case, you might want to check whether your goal is achievable or not and modify it if necessary.
When talking about your goals, avoid using vocabulary such as “I will try”, “I think”, “Maybe”, “If it goes well” but use “I will”, “When I will achieve”, “I know I will”, “I definitely will”.
Anticipate all possible ways it can go wrong and elaborate a strategy.
The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate – Thomas Watson
We tend to be overoptimistic regarding our ability to achieve a goal and more than often we underestimate the amount of work and the time necessary to perform a task. Ask yourself what things can happen that will prevent you from achieving your goals? If your goals are long-term goals, chances are that you will face multiple setbacks before you succeed. In the past I had many goals but I didn’t achieve most of them. One of the reasons was obviously my lack of confidence. Other major reasons were that I was overly optimistic and was not prepared mentally to face major setbacks. I would try to create a blog about Japan but would give up due to the many technical difficulties I encountered. I would wait for everything to be perfect before launching the blog. This blog was never created. I planned to make videos of my trips abroad and publish them; it never happened. Once I understood that failure was actually part of the process and not an anomaly it helped me significantly to achieve my goals. Here is how I see setbacks or failures: setbacks are here to test you, to see how bad you want it. When you set a goal, you have to be clear not only about your goal but about what you are ready to go through to achieve that goal. If you already made your mind that huge setbacks are likely to occur, you will be prepared to face them and be able to keep pushing and move forward. You should already know how you’re going to react to potential setbacks before they occur.
Avoid putting yourself in difficult situations
If your objective is to lose weight or to stop smoking for instance, you should avoid temptation. Identify all those situations where you are at risk, think of what makes you fail in your previous attempt and see how you can avoid those situations. Maybe you like to have a cigarette when you are drinking coffee, when you eat outside or when you are under stress. Identify those kinds of situations and come up with an effective strategy.
For more on goal setting feel free to check my goal setting book here
Sharing goals with other people is a great way to push ourselves to take action. Do you have any goals you are working on currently? Please leave me a comment below and let me know how it is going.
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