How to create goals you'll actually achieve
As much as we'd like to think that making a resolution will set us up for success, good goal setting is a little more complicated than that.
Setting goals can be a tricky business. While most of us find it easy to come up with a long list of things we want to accomplish, the hard part is following a strategy that allows us to actually achieve them. These simple tips will help you turn your wishes and dreams for the year ahead into reality.
Be SMART about it
There’s a good chance you’ve come across the SMART goal strategy before. That’s because it’s a really useful way to help you create your goals. If you keep these five criteria in mind when writing your goals you have a much better chance of coming up with a clear, solid goal you’ll actually be able to achieve.
- Specific – Be clear and provide all necessary details. Answer as many of the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions as possible. The purpose of goal setting is to set your end point. If your goal is too vague you won’t know how to get there.
- Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring your success. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? This eliminates the risk of creating wishy-washy goals like, “have a successful career” or “be happy”. You need to know what a successful career or happiness means to you in order to work towards it.
- Attainable – Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure your goal is realistic for you to achieve. Great goals are those that challenge you while still being attainable. If the goal is too easy, you probably don’t need to go to all the effort of making a plan to achieve it.
- Relevant – Make sure your goal is important to you. It has to be something that gets you up the morning, gets your blood pumping, and keeps you motivated for the long run.
- Timely – Without a deadline a goal is just a dream. Putting a timeline on when you want to achieve your goal helps to gives it a sense of urgency.
Write it down
The physical act of writing down your goals helps to make them real and tangible. It’s easy to dismiss something you promised yourself if you never wrote it down or didn’t tell anyone about it. But once you commit to writing down your goal you’re already proving to yourself that you’re serious about this one. This isn’t another “I’m going to go to the gym tomorrow morning” thing. This time, you mean business.
When you’re writing down your goals make sure you frame them in the positive and use strong, committed language. For example, instead of saying “I want to get out of debt,” say “By this time next year I will have paid off my debts and be saving for a house.” For an added bonus, don’t just write your goals in your diary where you’ll never see them, write them on your bathroom mirror or stick them on your desk so you’re reminded of them every day.
Make a plan
This is where most people go wrong. After spending hours writing the perfect SMART goals and creating a beautiful vision board to hang above their bed, people go about their lives exactly as they did before and wonder why they didn't achieve their goals. Creating goals is the easy part. Making them happen is when it gets hard.
Once you've created your goals you need to spend just as much time creating a plan for how you'll achieve them. If your goal is the destination, then your plan is the roadmap for how you’ll get there. Write out all the steps you need to take in order to get to your goal, then decide when you'll do them. This is an important step to keep you motivated along the way, especially if your goal is something that will take a long time. Give yourself the satisfaction of ticking off milestones and mini-goals as you achieve them along the way.
The last step that most people forget about it to celebrate! Staying motivated to achieve a long-term goal can be challenging. That’s why it’s important to give yourself a pat on the back every now and then. Whether you’ve followed the plan to a T or have managed to get back on track after a lull, remember to acknowledge yourself for all the hard work you’ve done. The truth is, most people would have given up by now. You’re nailing it just by making it this far.
The most important thing
After all this talk about goals, you might be thinking that it’s really important to have goals. The thing that’s really important however is the person you become on the way to achieving them. If you set a goal for yourself it’s likely something that is important to you, that you know won’t happen if you don’t dedicate time and effort towards it. Therefore, in order to achieve our goals we have to do more and be more than ever before. Achieving a goal isn’t just about getting what you want, it’s about becoming the person you want to be. Now that’s something to really be proud of.