How to set goals you can achieve

Various sources, methods and even apps are available to support you if you decide to set goals for yourself.

Many of us set new goals in January each year and we all try to do our best to achieve those goals.

Somewhere along the way, after a couple of weeks or months these goals seem to fade away, and you turn your attention to something else, which you believe, seems to be more important. Similar may happen to other goals you set during the year.

Why did you decide to place these goals in the back of the top shelf of your mind? Was their fate to be forgotten? Which goals prove to be long lasting and achievable? Where did it go wrong and what could you have done differently? Did you use the best app?

Let me share with you the common mistakes in goal setting, and these have very little to do with an app:

  • goals are set based on an impulse;
  • goals listed as you would prepare your shopping list;
  • you think goal setting is like writing a daily to do list;
  • you can only achieve your goal by doing something you really don’t fancy;
  • you think achieving the goal will sort out your life;
  • you set a goal, because your friend(s) or significant other set the very same goal and by the way they are doing quite well in achieving it;
  • the goal is shiny and fantastic, and it is so far from you as the moon and the stars … but when you talk about it everyone admires you for having such a great adventure ahead of you;
  • you can achieve the goal when sleeping, or standing on one leg, singing a song and juggle three apples at the same time.

Probably I could extend the list with a bit more effort, but I am sure, by now you understand, goal setting is about you. Your life and your future are in your hands, you are the director of your own movie, therefore anything goes wrong with goal setting is on you.

Devastating, I know…

On the other hand, it might just be good news. There is freedom in accepting you have control over your life and that responsibility comes with freedom to decide and act.

Let’s take a look at these mistakes one by one and learn from them, so that you can embrace your newly acquired set of opportunities.

Goals are set based on an impulse

New year resolutions, unless you built a habit of them, are good examples of such goal setting, but you may experience this phenomenon when you decide to buy a treadmill, because you saw an inspiring video, which convinced you that running is the best option for you to lose weight.

You are setting a goal in a mood for changing things quickly and/or in a hopeful moment, but don’t think about ways of achieving it or the activities and obligations coming with it. You try to stick with it, try your best to achieve it, but at the end your schedule, work, other tasks or even your hobby may cross your way and the goal you want to achieve seems to require so much effort you simply can’t make.

Goals listed as items on a shopping list

Shopping lists are created in different ways, some like to sit down and think what is needed for the next couple of days or for the week, others leave little notes about the items they need to replace, replenish in the household, and some just would like to add the most obvious items and add more items while shopping to allow some creativity and flexibility around shopping. The more practical you are with your shopping list is the better for your purse probably.

What is wrong with the shopping list type of goal setting?

Basically, you list things you would like to buy, rather than to achieve/earn and you think on a short term.

I give you an example, which is coming from one of my friends. His goal list started with get a new sports car this year.

He was thinking about an item, and acquiring this item was itself the goal. Even if not within a year, but within a year and a half or two, he could finally buy the sports car and that is when the disappointment started. The sports car was great, but he couldn’t drive it as much as he wanted, additionally by the time he got the car, he felt he could have invested the money better, and he didn’t enjoy the car as much as he thought he would.

You set goals as you would write a to do list

A to do list includes activities you plan to deliver in a day, so you define what you would like to achieve on a short term, the activities you plan are usually the ones that can be delivered easily and will not pose much challenge.

You can only achieve your goal by doing something you really don’t fancy

Doing the Ironman triathlon is certainly an impressive goal unless you have hydrophobia, or losing 22 pounds in 2 months can be very challenging, if you know you are not ready to leave your favourite foods behind and find alternatives.

You think achieving the goal will sort out your life

While losing weight, or changing your career may bring improvements to your life, hoping it will solve all your problems may cause you disappointment at the end.

Many believe they just need to change their clothes, earn big money, or have cool friends and they will change their lives. Waiting for something to happen just to start something else, makes your life journey more difficult and takes you away from what you really can achieve and what really can bring you success.

You set a goal, because your friend(s) or significant other set the very same goal

Friends can show you a good example inspire you, root for you and be with you in the moments when you need them most. Doing things together is fun and makes your relationship stronger, on the other hand you friend’s life is different than yours. His or her desires will be different from yours. Your friend set the goal for him or herself, believing the goal will take him or her forward, not you.

The goal is shiny and fantastic, and it is so far from you as the moon and the stars

Being a billionaire in a year, may certainly sound ambitious and worth sharing at a party, assuming you have surefire ways to achieve it or you are a genius who gets new revolutionary ideas quite frequently and have the talent to make things happen quickly.

Should your friends not see you this way, your goal will sound as bragging and may damage your relationships. Maybe your friends already know, you like to set big goals, which you abandon later, if that is the case and you are just fed up others not taking you seriously, you might want to change your mind about goal setting.

You can achieve the goal when sleeping, or standing on one leg, singing a song and juggle three apples at the same time

Setting a goal of being promoted this year, when you already know the promotion is on its way is not only naughty, but unhelpful in many ways.

I shared with you the most common mistakes in goal setting, so you may be curious to know the better ways of setting goals.

Let’s start with understanding how setting goals for your life is different. As you are achieving goals you put yourself on a certain track of your choice.

Talking about life path sounds more serious than just setting goals, isn’t it? Your life is very precious and you have the right to make decisions on it. Setting goals are such decisions.

If you asked me whether there are golden rules for goal setting, I would probably hesitate saying there are, because I saw many people successfully set goals in many different ways. However, there are certain guidelines to goal setting, which may help you to be better and more effective, and by more effective I mean you will feel closer to your goals and your sense of achievement will increase.

Set goals that make you feel you are going in a good direction

Setting goals helps you stay focussed and allows you to take and/or increase control over your life. It also will make you more structured, focussed and will improve your

Each goal you set may or may not fit in the big picture of your life. Why not choose the ones that fit? Sometimes identifying the direction can also be challenging, if you would like to learn more about life strategies and setting course for your life click here.

Once you decided the direction for your life, you can start planning the journey. Setting goals is to lay the stepping stones on the road, your goals will take you further in your journey.

Set goals that relate to your priorities and target areas in your life where you identified a gap and will aid your efforts in building your skills and improve your life situation.

Make your goals measurable

Sense of achievement comes when

  • you know what you want to deliver and how your success will look like;
  • you have a plan of action
  • you deliver on your plan.

Goals can be defined in different ways, the more specific the definition of your goal is, the closer you may get to accomplishing it. A measurable goal will specify what exactly you want to achieve and by when. Include specific dates, volumes, or rates.

Set goals that motivate you, but don’t make you struggle

Goal achievement requires dedication and to keep progressing your motivational level needs to stay high. To achieve that you need to be convinced you can do what is needed, but delivering it will not be too easy for you either.

When you don’t have this, you risk postponing what you need to do to make the goal a reality or accomplish so easily that the goal will not give you a sense of achievement, leaving you feeling disappointed.

I set my goals in details, and include why I want to achieve the goal, where achieving it will take me and how it will help me in the future. I end up with longer sentences, but it is worth as I can keep my eye on the ball and have a check whether the goal still fits in my bigger picture of life. 

Record you goals and your progress.

Writing a list of your goals, recording the deadlines you set for yourself and create a habit of looking at your goals periodically will help you maintain focus.

I personally use an app to record my goals and have a reminder each day, so the goals appear every day in the morning on my phone. This way I start every day by thinking about how much closer would I like to get to achieving my goals and what do I need to do differently if I slowed down.

Make an action plan

Develop a plan of actions in that includes the steps you want to take to achieve your goals. Depending on your preference you can create a detailed plan including every step to take, just consider how much effort will be required to maintain your plan.

A good plan is clear, simple and logical and includes just as much detail, that is necessary for you to understand and remember what the steps mean.

You can write your plan on a paper, develop it in a spreadsheet or in a project planning application, or if you are in a very creative mood you can create a visual representation of your plan.

Make things happen

Even the shiniest plan will sadly sit in the bottom of your drawer, if you don’t act on it. Create a habit of doing something, even a little thing, every single day, that takes you closer to your goal. Check back on your progress and if you slow down find and assess the reasons, and work out solutions.

Difficulties, challenges will always come into your way. Some people will be helpful, others may have priorities conflicting yours. Keep up a positive attitude and build and rely on helpful relationships. If you would like to learn more about building and maintaining helpful relationships click here.

Enjoy and celebrate the progress and small successes even

I am not saying you should throw a party every time when you could raise your workout time by 5 minutes, but remind yourself of the good job you are doing and use the achievement as a building block to the next one.

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