There’s some impressive science to back up goal setting. And yet it’s something we’re never taught or encouraged to do. But the statistics don’t lie, and make a strong argument for getting good at this skill; and making a habit of it. A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation.
Let’s start with the foundations of setting S-M-A-R-T Goals. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely. This all makes sense, but there are some additional tricks to learn in order to make your goals stick and make sure you stay accountable to them.
Once you have your goals articulated, take some time to turn them into a creative and artistic visual. Though it might sound juvenile, sit with color markers, crayons or paint and write them out in a way you might if you were back in school. This activates a different part of your brain, and as it will be wildly different to your working style, will help cement your goals in your mind. The creative process will also help you see in terms of what is possible and not get stuck in rational thinking. Do not put pressure on yourself to create a masterpiece, just create something visibly striking and enjoy the creative process as you go.
2. Feel Them
Rather than just write out your goals in a topline way, write at least a paragraph on how it feels to achieve your goal. Acting like you have already achieved your goal will start to connect the dots between where you are now and the steps you need to take to achieve your goals. On top of that, it will also give you the confidence associated with attaining this goal; and this will permeate to those around you.
3. Understand Them
To set goals that truly motivate you, you must understand why you want to achieve your goal. Without a clear understanding of your motivation, it’s hard to find the tenacity or drive needed to succeed. Take some time to interrogate your goal; why you want to achieve it, how it would make you feel, what doors it would open up, why it must happen now and why this is essential to your happiness. If it helps, play out the flipside: what will happen if you don’t achieve your goal.
4. Take Action
Finally, one you have your goals written, take immediate action – even if it is a small step. Momentum begets momentum, and by kick starting your goal writing process with a tangible action, you will immediately create a sense of progress. Change happens as a result of lots of little steps, so don’t feel the need to start with a huge, intimidating step. Once you start taking action, be sure to celebrate wins and review your goals each month to help track your progress.
5. Share Them
Many people have fear about sharing their goals in case they don’t achieve them. But sharing them will keep you accountable. Additionally, once you say something to someone else, out loud, you have made an unknowing commitment to make it happen. It has become bigger than you and now it’s on you to make it materialize.
I’m an innovation addict and entrepreneur on a mission to spread creative thinking. I have worked as a brand, marketing and innovation consultant for 10 years, partnering…
I’m an innovation addict and entrepreneur on a mission to spread creative thinking. I have worked as a brand, marketing and innovation consultant for 10 years, partnering with some of the world’s largest companies to help reinvent their brands, shape their innovation pipelines and shake up their company culture. I am the founder & CEO of Never Liked It Anyway – the eBay for breakups and number one destination for moving on; and the author of the Never Liked It Anyway book. Melbourne, Sydney, London, New York and LA are places I call home. my accent is a mess.
Feb 6, 2017 · 5 min read
So why make a daily plan in the first place?
- You will be more in control of your day.
- You will get more done.
- You will be more efficient with your time.
- You will have more peace of mind.
Or at least that’s what productivity experts tell you.
Most of the time, however, it doesn’t work out that way. Most of the time we make daily plans and it’s a total clusterfuck. None of the tasks on your list get done and there are a bunch of new ones that popped out of nowhere.
That used to happen to me all the t i me when I tried to make a plan. After a while, I just gave up and thought that planning is pointless since things never happen as planned anyway.
However, it’s not that planning doesn’t work. I just didn’t know how to do it.
The first wrong assumption that I had is that planning doesn’t require any learning. I thought it was just about writing down your tasks and prioritizing them.
That is certainly the first step, yes, but the process doesn’t end there. At least if you want the planning to be useful.
The main skill that we have to learn when planning a day is estimation or prediction. We’re essentially trying to set a bunch of goals and trying to predict how our day is going to pan out. How much time and effort the tasks are going to take. That requires some practice and learning to be able to do accurately.
Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years that help me get better at estimation and make plans that actually work.
A great way to start improving your prediction skill is timing your tasks. When you start planning your day just put a simple time estimate next to each task. For example:
- Get to Inbox zero (60 mins)
- Write a blog post (120 mins)
- Lunch (60 mins)
- Nap (30 mins)
- Do my laundry (30 mins)
Keep it simple. We don’t want this to get tedious. After timing all your tasks, you can quickly add them up and see what the total is. The total in the example above is 5 hours.
The first time I did this for my daily plan the total was 24 hours. 24 hours worth of tasks that I somehow thought I was going to get done in a 8 hour work day. It was a huge overestimation.
So writing everything down and timing it brings you one step closer to reality.
Another huge problem is that we usually underestimate how much time an individual task takes. Our brain just ignores all the little details and complications that come with a task and comes up with a very unrealistic deadline.
For example, I have a task to go pick up my new driver’s license from the DMV. Off the top of my head, that task is going to take about 30–40 minutes.
But if I try to break that into smaller pieces it might look something like this:
- Go to my car (5 mins)
- Defrost it, since it’s winter (5 mins)
- Drive to the DMV (20 mins)
- Stuck in traffic (10 mins)
- Find a place to park (5 mins)
- Wait in line at the DMV (10 mins)
- Drive back home (20 mins)
So after breaking it up, I think a more realistic estimate would be 75 minutes. Almost double of what I thought it was going to be initially.
The more you break down a task into smaller pieces, the easier it’s going to be to predict the total time.
Of course, you don’t have to write down all these little details into your to-do list. That’s just going to make it tedious to manage and very cluttered. You can do the break down on a separate piece of paper or file that you trash after you’re done.
Another mistake that we often do is thinking that we’ll have a 100% of our work day at our disposal. If we have a 8 hour work day, we tend to plan for 8 hours worth of tasks. As if nothing unexpected is going to happen.
That’s rarely the case, though. There are always new tasks and complications that come with every day. Especially if you have a boss and he’s the one who gives you more tasks.
Your unexpected time depends on the type of work you do and how much control of your schedule you have. It might be 30 minutes or 5 hours. Since it’s unexpected, it’s not going to be very accurate anyway, so you might as well pick an average time for every day. Your plans will be more accurate with the average unexpected time than planning for 100% availability.
Another way to be more accurate is to figure out what your effective working time is. That means you have to subtract all the activities that you do during the day that aren’t work related. For example:
- Lunch (60 mins)
- Talking on the phone (30 mins)
- Taking breaks (40 mins)
- Going to the bathroom (20 mins)
- Commute (60 mins)
A good way to figure out your effective working time is to use a tool like Toggl to track your work for a few days.
When I first started tracking my time with Toggl I was shocked that I had less than 4 hours of effective work in a 8 hour work day. No wonder my daily schedules never worked.
Even with all these exercises, sometimes you will be way off. By default, we humans are not very good at predicting time. So don’t worry if you suck at it in the beginning.
Something that you thought was going to take 5 minutes might take 2 hours. That’s fine. You’re just practicing. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
The more of these exercises you do the more you’ll develop your estimation skill. After doing it for a while you’ll start developing an intuition about it. Even without writing anything down you’ll intuitively know that it’s a very unrealistic plan because you’ve seen it fail before hundreds of times.
When you’re new at this, it’s safe to say that you can double any time prediction that you make for a task. You’ll probably be closer to reality that way.
Get started in your future career today
How to Make Your New Year’s Goals Actually Happen
New Year’s goals and resolutions always get a bad rap when it comes to celebrating a new year. I think it’s because it’s difficult to turn our plans into habits. It’s always great to reach for the stars and get creative about what we want to achieve in a calendar year. But when you bite off more than you can chew, your resolutions can feel intimidating and disappointing. As long as you follow these seven steps, you will be able to meaningfully incorporate your goals as you celebrate the new year, while you “dwell in possibility” like Emily Dickinson lovingly states.
Mentally reflect on your past year and the things you wish to improve upon
Take a moment to sit down in a space where you feel most productive. Then think about any hardships, difficulties, or situations where you felt you weren’t the best version of yourself. Listen to your gut and from there, you will be inspired to create goals that will involve personal, attainable growth
Write down your goals
You can use anything for this, whether it be a cute notepad, a napkin, or a scrap of paper. Collect materials of your choice and write down all your goals so that you can see, visualize, and constantly be reminded of them.
Break down your goals into smaller goals
This step is incredibly important for two reasons. For one, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by lots of words on a page, and two, when your goals are digestible, they are more attainable. It’s called baby steps for a reason!
Prioritize and pick two of the goals that are most important to you
Step two is more about dumping all your thoughts and ideas onto the page, whereas this step is about prioritizing. What’s that one goal that you know would truly change everything for you? What’s the goal that will make your life more loving and rewarding in the long run? Pick two goals that answer these questions and run with them.
Think about the ways you can incorporate steps to achieving those goals into your weekly routine
The most important way to achieve a goal is to continue on with this “baby step” concept. Think about the goal you want to achieve. You can’t achieve it overnight. In order to make something a meaningful part of your life, you have to add smaller steps into your weekly or daily routine.
Slowly build upon how you incorporate those steps into your new routine
Once you get in the habit of incorporating these steps into your new routine, you’ll be ready to add more habits and goals into your day-to-day life. It’s all about continuing to self-improve and practice new habits and steps in order to solidify your personal goals.
Rinse and repeat with steps three through six! Once you make your New Year’s goals into your routine, the “work” isn’t over!
Achieving a goal is an amazing feeling, but you don’t want all of your hard work to go to waste. Make sure you continue feeling good about your new goal by feeding it, loving it, and nourishing it. That way it will continue to prosper with you. At this point, you can look at your goal master list as you continue to make all of your goals and dreams come true.
Do you have any methods to help you set your New Year’s goals? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’re interested in writing articles like this for College Fashionista, be sure to apply to be a Community Member today
If you’re anything like me, the prospect of goal-setting can be pretty overwhelming. One day, you’re marking up a beautiful new notebook with all sorts of goals: having $100,000 in an investment account by the time you’re 28, learning to actually like salad, landing a raise at your annual review. The next day, your notebook is pushed to the side of your desk while you gobble down Thai takeout and re-watch Nathan and Haley’s wedding on Hulu, telling yourself your goals can wait until Sunday… or until next year. I may be self-projecting here (hello, on my 1,000th One Tree Hill rewatch), but I have a feeling a lot of us can relate.
Goal-setting is a constant buzzword that gets passed around any circle of entrepreneurs and career-focused women , but it’s especially big around the new year. Whether you’re looking to transition to working for yourself or you want to start your own YouTube channel, goal-setting is a necessary piece of the puzzle. While goal-setting can be tricky, it can also be massively rewarding. Here’s how to actually do it:
Step 1: Categorize your goals
You may have three goals, or you may have a list of 100. Regardless, they probably don’t fit in one category: some goals may be finance-based , while others might relate solely to your health. Some goals may involve your own personal relationships, while others may revolve around your co-workers. By categorizing your goals, you’re helping yourself to see a different list of priorities. Instead of working down a laundry list of goals that cover everything from “I want to pay off one of my student loans” to “I want to organize my pantry,” you’ll be able to see your goals in a more organized, bite-sized fashion. Whether you list your goals in an Excel document or stick them in a journal, organize them in categories that make sense to you.
Looking for some category inspiration? Try these:
- Time-based goals: Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, short-term, long-term goals
- Financial goals: Savings goals, debt goals, investment goals
- Relationship goals: Friendship goals, partner goals, family-dynamic goals
- Personal goals: Health goals , career goals, self-care goals
Step 2: Get specific
We’ve all dealt with the struggle of a date who can’t commit — but why do that to ourselves? Get deep with the goals you want to set for yourself, instead of writing down vague, unreachable ones. By being really, really specific, you’re giving your brain the roadmap to get things done. The good ole’ SMART acronym that we all learned in freshman orientation is a great way to go about this — by setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals, your ideas tend to move forward much more quickly.
Every time you create a new goal, answer these questions:
- What is the time frame in which I want to achieve this goal?
- What are ways that I can keep myself on track?
- Does this goal need to be broken up into steps to be achieved?
Step 3: Find your “why”
The truth is, no goal works without the right heart behind it. If you’re setting goals to make others happy , to prove yourself to others, or to impress someone else, you’re not doing it right. Whether you’re saving up for a down payment, trying to get in shape, or working to get a new business off of the ground, check in and make sure that your why screams itself out loud. You owe it to yourself to set goals that help you set your life on fire, and that starts by setting goals that truly mean everything to you. Leave the people-pleasing and the comparison game behind, and do a personal audit on your list of goals.
Take a look at your list, and honestly answer each of these questions:
- Why exactly is this goal important to me?
- Does this goal specifically improve or add to my life in some way? ( This one can be tricky — remember that you’re setting these goals for yourself, not for anyone else )
- Do I feel the need to run these by someone, or do I trust my own judgment?
Step 4: Use your hands
When the dreams are thought out and the goals are written down, it’s time to get them to stick. Instead of scribbling your list of goals in a journal and tucking them away in a drawer, get fancy with it. Whether you want to create a full-scale, 13 Going On 30 -esque vision board or write your goals on pretty paper and hang them on your mirror, taking the time to express your intentions with a glue stick and some glitter (or just a fountain pen) can work wonders.
Here are some ideas for bringing your goals to life:
- Grab some magazines, a jar of glue, and some scissors to make a good, old-fashioned vision board
- Add your goals to your planner or to a visible wall calendar (extra credit for stickers)
- Make a graphic (or just write your goals down on a pretty piece of paper and take a picture of them). Set those goals as your phone and computer background so you’ll see them every day
The truth is, setting great goals for yourself is an essential part of building a life that you’re proud of. Whether you set goals that challenge your courage, crush your debt, or create business benchmarks, your goals are the framework for your future. Set them with intention and watch some magic happen.
Setting goals has become an increasingly popular way to put our hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future into practice. The New Year is a great time and excuse for many of us to begin putting these into action but sustaining them throughout the year can be the difficult bit. We have put together our best tips that help us create and maintain our goals… we hope they give you a little helping hand as well!
It’s time to be realistic
From my experience of goal setting this one is an important one for me. It can be demotivating and disheartening when you don’t manage to achieve what you set out to achieve but the question is, was it actually realistic in the first place?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for pushing yourself and dreaming big however there are some important factors that need to be considered in order to be realistic when goal setting to help avoid that big fat failure feeling. One factor is the time frame you have given to achieve your goal. Is the time frame you’ve set yourself realistic and enough to reach your goal? Do you currently have enough available time in your everyday life to dedicate time and be consistent? Do you need to obtain other skills in order to successfully achieve your goal?
To help make sure your goals are realistic you could try the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) approach. Your coach does a great piece on how to use the SMART rule to set your goals! It is ok to be realistic about some goals which you would like to achieve now and others you want to save in the future.
Distinguish between short-term and long-term goals
I have always found that it is important to have both short-term and long- term goals. The long-term goals are ones that I may not necessarily achieve this year or even next year and the short- term ones are to help me get there and stay on track!
Having short-term goals also helps you stay motivated. Keeping up motivation can be difficult throughout the year and reaching your goal can sometimes seem so out of reach. Short-term goals are a great way to feel as if you are making accomplishments throughout the year and keep your morale up!
Setting short-term goals can also be a way of completing something you haven’t got around to or been putting off. They are usually easy to complete or measurable goals so you can measure your success as you go, giving that feeling of accomplishment. It can then keep us motivated to continue setting ourselves short-term goals!
Read positive affirmations on a regular basis
Positive affirmations have become increasingly popular over the years and are a great way to maintain a positive attitude. Last year I purchased Katie Piper’s book “Start Your Day With Katie” which provides daily positive affirmations for every day of the year. Reading one every morning before I go work is sometimes the pick-me-up I need to start the day!
Positive affirmations are not only a great way to keep you motivated and on track to achieve your personal goals, they can also have a positive influence on self-esteem and encourage other positive changes in your life. Although consistently reading positive affirmations may not necessarily resolve an issue or situation, it can help you accept the situation or amend your outlook. According to a study carried out by Wiesenfeld et al., 2001, affirmations have been shown to assist with steering us away from our inclination to linger on negative experiences.
Remember there may be setbacks to you achieving your goals throughout the year. Reading positive affirmations can give you the boost you need to dust yourself off and keep trying!
Plan how to get there
With some goals, a clear step-by step plan may not be evident from the offset and may only become clear when you begin your journey however it is always a good idea to at least start off with a rough plan on how you are going to go about achieving your goal.
If you are unclear on how to start or prepare to achieve your goal, do some research! You can start off with a simple google search to get you started. Perhaps you know of someone who has experience in the same field, why not drop them a message? Perhaps you’re not quite sure whether you need additional qualifications for a career change? Why not Google it. Failure to plan is planning to fail (quote made famous by Benjamin Franklin) which I like to keep in mind when beginning my goal setting journey.
Be careful not to overload yourself
This is a personal favourite of mine which I still have to keep reminding myself of when goal setting. When you first put pen to paper you can easily get carried away with all the things you are hoping to achieve and at the same time putting yourself at risk of dangerous overload!
Instead of the feelings of accomplishment we receive after our goal is complete, setting too many goals can seemingly have the opposite effect. By focusing on too many things at once, you are limiting the time and energy you have for each goal. If you have a few ideas in mind, perhaps prioritise the ones that are most important to you. You may then find this goal takes less time than you planned to achieve, then giving you additional time to begin another!
Checking back on your goals throughout the year is a great way to keep on track. It is a great way to see how you’re progressing and offer you the opportunity to reassess your current direction if needed! There may be some goals where you are well on your way to achieving ahead of plan and there may be others that require a little more attention.
Life can be unpredictable so your goals may also change throughout the year as well. By checking back you can see which ones are still important to you and which ones you may wish to change or remove completely. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you scrap one off the list or just simply park it for another time because it’s no longer relevant or desired by you or if your circumstances have changed.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
A common tendency for us as human beings is to put too much pressure on ourselves. This can be overwhelming and can lead to unnecessary stress. If you need to extend your time-frame for a goal, that’s ok! If you need to change your goal or save for another time, that’s ok too!
Comparing ourselves to others and where they are in life can also add pressure and make us feel disheartened when things appear to be happening for other people and not for us. It is important to remain focussed and celebrate your own successes and achievements. Believe it or not, focussing on others achievements will just distract you from creating your own and the life that you want to live!
Setting goals is aimed to help lead you to achievement, to push yourself and be the best version of you!
Although the start of a New Year is a great time to set some … new goals it can be done at any time of the year! Bill Gates once said “Although I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, I have always been committed to setting clear goals and making plans to achieve them”. Although goal setting can’t cast a magic spell on your life, it can drive you to achieve what you want and give you purpose and fulfilment. Go for it!
Working on your career goals can feel like cardio. Getting started can be difficult, halfway through you’re exhausted and want to give up, and your willpower to do the whole thing again tomorrow is nowhere in sight.
However, just as finishing a run is hugely rewarding, actually carrying out your resolutions will do your professional life a world of good. Check out the tips below for actually following through on your career goals. Hey, you might even get an endorphin rush at the end.
Don’t cut yourself too much slack—you need to make your resolutions challenging enough to make them, well, a challenge. (Business Insider)
This study suggests that the key to sticking to resolutions is sending progress updates to a friend or colleague. (Dominican University of California)
Ready for lift-off? Meet Lift, the app that uses micropsychology to help you stay on track. (Fast Company)
Here are four different ways to measure your progress. (Lifehack)
Can you have too many goals? Here’s how to find that perfect number. (The Simple Dollar)
It might not be the new year for a couple of months, but you should start on these eight career resolutions ASAP. (TIME)
All resolutions are not created equal. Here’s the one you should never make. (Intuit)
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your goals, try dividing them into smaller ones so you can make slow but steady progress. (Small Biz Trends)
Want more ways to make your resolutions stick? See our suggestions!
Dreaming is easy, but translating those dreams into realities is not. So first you need to turn those dreams into goals, because it is goals, not dreams, that you can effectively pursue and capture. The pursuit of your goals can be broken down into Dr. Phil’s seven key steps. Learn these seven steps, and use them in pursuing your strategic goals, and you will achieve them.
1. Express your goal in terms of specific events or behaviors.
For a dream to become a goal, it has to be specifically defined in terms of operations, meaning what will be done. When a goal is broken down into steps, it can be managed and pursued much more directly. “Being happy,” for example, is neither an event nor a behavior. When you set out to identify a goal, define what you want in clear and specific terms.
2. Express your goal in terms that can be measured.
How else will you be able to determine your level of progress, or even know when you have successfully arrived where you wanted to be? For instance, if your goal is to make more money, delineate how much money you aspire to make.
3. Assign a timeline to your goal.
“The difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline,” says Dr. Phil. Once you have determined precisely what it is you want, you must decide on a time frame for having it. The deadline you’ve created fosters a sense of urgency or purpose, which in turn will serve as an important motivator, and prevent inertia or procrastination.
4. Choose a goal you can control.
Unlike dreams, which allow you to fantasize about events over which you have no control, goals have to do with aspects of your existence that you control and can therefore manipulate. In identifying your goal, strive for what you can create, not for what you can’t.
5. Plan and program a strategy that will get you to your goal.
Pursuing a goal seriously requires that you realistically assess the obstacles and resources involved, and that you create a strategy for navigating that reality. Willpower is unreliable, fickle fuel because it is based on your emotions. Your environment, your schedule and your accountability must be programmed in such a way that all three support you — long after an emotional high is gone. Life is full of temptations and opportunities to fail. Those temptations and opportunities compete with your more constructive and task-oriented behavior. Without programming, you will find it much harder to stay the course.
6. Define your goal in terms of steps.
Major life changes don’t just happen; they happen one step at a time. Steady progress, through well-chosen, realistic, interval steps, produces results in the end. Know what those steps are before you set out out and attaining your goal will be more manageable.
7. Create accountability for your progress toward your goal.
Without accountability, people are apt to con themselves. If you know precisely what you want, when you want it — and there are real consequences for not doing the assigned work — you are much more likely to continue in your pursuit of your goal. Find someone in your circle of family or friends to whom you can be accountable. Make periodic reports on your progress. We all respond better if we know that somebody is checking up on us and that there are consequences for our failure to perform.
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With a fresh new year almost upon is, what better time to start setting goals for the things you want to achieve in the next 12 months.
Now, let’s be clear. When we talk about goal setting for the new year, we don’t mean you simply write out a long list with the title ‘My New Year Resolutions’ and call it a day. The stats tell us that only 8% of people who set new year resolutions actually achieve them. It’s a sad state of affairs.
So, let’s look at some tried and tested ways you can actually set yourself up to achieve your goals and make the new year your best year ever!
Review the Previous Year
Before you begin, you should first take a look at the goals you had for the previous year. What goals did you reach? What could you have done better? What were the obstacles or challenges you faced for the things you weren’t able to achieve? By reviewing the previous year, you’ll have a much better idea of what you need to do in order to achieve your goals the following year.
A yearly review is also a great exercise in mindfulness and conscious living. A time to enjoy the opportunity to slow down and reminisce about your favourite moments (Anuschka Rees).
New York Times best-selling author and international speaker, Chris Guillebeau, has traveled to more than 25 countries every year – and by the age of 35 he had visited every country in the world. Now that’s some serious goal setting! In his latest book, Born for This, he writes about how you can change the world by achieving personal goals and helping others at the same time.
On his blog, Chris talks about conducting an Annual Review much like you would at work … but making it more fun so you go away feeling excited and ready to move on from any failures. In this article, he explains how to go about conducting your yearly review and also provides a free template you can download to help you get started.
To Share or Not to Share
Some people say it’s a good idea to share your goals with family and friends. Being open and sharing your intentions can build a support team around you making you more accountable and motivating you to achieve your goals. But it’s also very likely that you will come up against people who aren’t very supportive and this can end up derailing every good intention you had in fulfilling your goals.
Derek Sivers believes the evidence that suggests telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. A successful entrepreneur, Derek is the founder of MuckWork, and previously founded CD Baby which became the largest seller of independent music on the web. In his TED Talk below, Derek explains why you should really keep your goals to yourself.
Use the SMART Approach
Adopting the SMART approach to goal setting can help you set clear and reachable goals. Using this method, each goal you set should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable)
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
MindTools provide a great article on how to use this method with step by step instructions and examples.
Don’t Go Overboard
Don’t be overzealous with the goal setting. If you set yourself too many goals at once, or several goals that require a lot of willpower, it’s very likely you will fail.
In his book, Zen to Done, productivity expert Leo Babauta gives readers his simple system to structure your work day and get tasks done. The author recommends you “take as much stuff off your plate as possible, so you can focus on doing what’s important, and doing it well.”
When it comes to setting goals, Babauta advises you set just one goal at a time. And as you start to see yourself accomplishing that goal, only then should you slowly add more to the mix.
It’s Not Meant To Be Easy
Let’s face it, setting goals is not easy. And there’s actually scientific evidence to suggest that it’s really quite hard because of the way our brains are wired. But the good news is, if you set your goals in the right way your brain will help to direct you towards achieving them. So even though it might seem tough, you have a good chance of accomplishing your goals if you put your mind to it.
Good luck with your goals for this year. We hope these strategies help.
Shouldn’t you announce your goals, so friends can support you? Isn’t it good networking to tell people about your upcoming projects? Doesn’t the law of attraction mean you should state your intention, and visualize the goal is already yours? Nope.
Tests done since 1933 show that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen.
Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.
In 1933, W. Mahler found that if a person announced the solution to a problem, and was acknowledged by others, it was now in the brain as a “social reality”, even if the solution hadn’t actually been achieved.
NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer has been studying this since his 1982 book “Symbolic Self-Completion” – and recently published results of new tests in a research article, “When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?”
Four different tests of 63 people found that those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them than those who made them public and were acknowledged by others.
Once you’ve told people of your intentions, it gives you a “premature sense of completeness.”
You have “identity symbols” in your brain that make your self-image. Since both actions and talk create symbols in your brain, talking satisfies the brain enough that it “neglects the pursuit of further symbols.”
A related test found that success on one sub-goal (eating healthy meals) reduced efforts on other important sub-goals (going to the gym) for the same reason.
It may seem unnatural to keep your intentions and plans private, but try it. If you do tell a friend, make sure not to say it as a satisfaction (“I’ve joined a gym and bought running shoes. I’m going to do it!”), but as dissatisfaction (“I want to lose 20 pounds, so kick my ass if I don’t, OK?”)
Derek Sivers is an entrepreneur, programmer, musician, and creator of CD Baby. His latest book is Anything You Want . Read his blog here .
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This seems to work for me on a wide range of issues, for example: quitting smoking and writing. Whenever I told friends I was quitting smoking, I thought I was providing negative reinforcement (I don’t want to be a liar), but I was just making it harder. The time I really quit was the time I didn’t bother to say anything about it. Also, I hate when I blab about some story I’m working on, and I lose motivation to write it.
Last Updated: January 11, 2021 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Sydney Axelrod. Sydney Axelrod is a certified life coach and the owner of Sydney Axelrod LLC, a life coaching business focused on professional and personal development. Through one-on-one coaching, digital courses, and group workshops, Sydney works with clients to discover their purpose, navigate life transitions, and set and accomplish goals. Sydney has over 1,000 hours of relevant coaching certifications and holds a BBA in Marketing and Finance from Emory University.
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Few things are better in this world than setting a goal and achieving it. Just like when athletes experience a type of “runner’s high” after a race, so too does completing any goal produce a sense of elation and pride. This article explores many ways of setting and pursuing goals. Goals won’t just complete themselves. You need to be regimented in your pursuit of them. Get started. Keep going. Achieve your aspirations.
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. Studies show that when your goals are personally meaningful, you’re more likely to get ahead in life and achieve them.  X Research source
- Oftentimes, this is the hardest part of the goal-making and fulfilling process. What do you want? The answer to this is often a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Buzz phrases like “stay true to yourself” clash with familial and work obligations. Find goals that promote a balance in your life – goals that make you happy and benefit your loved ones and others that depend on you.
- Consider asking yourself some questions, such as “What do I want to offer my family/community/world?” or “How do I want to grow?” These questions can help you determine the direction to take.  X Research source
- It’s okay if your ideas are fairly broad at this point. You’ll narrow them down next.
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020. Research shows that setting a specific goal makes you more likely to achieve it and can even make you feel happier in general. Be as specific and detailed as possible, remembering that you may need to break large goals into smaller sub-goals.  X Research source
- Ask yourself some questions about your goals. What do you need to do to achieve them? Who will need to assist you? When will each stage of your goal need to be accomplished?
- For example, “Be healthier” is too big and vague to be a helpful goal. “Eat better and exercise more” is better, but it’s still not detailed or specific.
- “Eat 3 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and exercise 3 times a week” is specific and concrete, making it much easier to achieve.
- You also need to build the scaffolding for how you will achieve these goals. For example, to achieve your fruit and veg goals, will you bring healthy snacks along to work? Choose a fruit cup instead of fries the next time you eat out? For exercising, will you work out at the gym or go for walks in your neighborhood? Think about the individual actions you need to take to “add up” to your overall goal.
- If you have multiple stages for your goals, when does each need to be accomplished? For example, if you’re training for a marathon, you need to have an idea of how long each stage of training will take you.
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 30 June 2020.
- For example, if your ultimate goal is to buy a big house in the country, you will need multiple sub-goals to accomplish this. You’ll need to save up money, build your credit, even possibly increase your income. Write out each of these sub-goals, along with the steps to take for each.