Remember your new year’s resolution? You know…the one where you were going to lose 10 lbs, or finally have the beach body you always wanted? How’s it going with that? Have you given up? If you’re like most people who decide that this is the year they change their lives…you have.
Why Your Goals Fail
As a regular at the gym, I get frustrated when I see an influx of people in January ready to make changes, improve their health, and take control of their bodies, only to be a distant memory by March. Why does this happen? Is it because they don’t really want to change? No! More often than not, the problem isn’t the motivation or even the dedication to the goal. The problem is the goal itself!
Let me know if any of these ring a bell:
“I’m going to train for, and run a marathon this year!”
“I’m going to lose 20lbs by summer!”
“I’m going to cut out the junk food and start eating healthy!”
Chances are you, or someone you know has set a goal like this and failed to meet it. The reason is because they’re bad goals. I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to run a marathon or lose 20 pounds, but you’ll never get there by aimlessly plucking a big goal like that out of thin air. In order to succeed at meeting goals, you first have to learn how to set proper goals!
So let’s start today and look at some ways to set goals that you can reach before another year slips by!
How To Set And Achieve Your Goals
1. Make your goal Attainable.
“I want to lose 100lbs this year!” Now that is some goal! Yes, it can be done, but it’s going to take a while to get there. Now let’s say you set that goal in January, and now as we are getting to March you have only lost 15 lbs? What do you do?
Most likely you start thinking “Well I’ve only lost 15 lbs, and by now I should have at least lost 30. There’s no way I’m going to get there!” That’s where this goal became unattainable, and more likely than not, discouragement and signs of defeat set in. Another issue with big lofty goals is that once the initial gung-ho attitude wears off, your motivation sizzles and you no longer can focus your sights on the months ahead that it will take to reach the goal.
So what can you do? Make your goals smaller and more attainable. Instead of “I’m going to lose 100lbs”, try “I’m going to work out 3 days a week this month.” Make it something that keeps you motivated towards reaching that big end goal, and you can stay motivated and make progress along the way.
2. Make your goal Measurable.
“I’m going to exercise and eat healthy this year” Ok, great! How many times are you going to exercise? What does eating healthy mean to you? How are you going to know when you’ve accomplished your goal?
The best way to stay motivated is through measurable results. Pick a goal that has an end point, something you can proudly reach. Try “I will cook 4 healthy dinners this week”, or “I will do 2 HIIT sessions every week until April”.
3. Have an end date.
People love to procrastinate. Think about projects you have at school or work. Your professor or boss gives you two projects. One is due this Friday at noon. The other, “whenever you can get it to me”. Which project is getting done? The one due Friday, right?!
We work better with concrete deadlines. That holds true to your work and school life, and that holds true with your personal goals. A goal without a timeline is just a dream. Giving yourself a realistic and attainable deadline will keep your mind focused and keep you motivated to accomplish what you set out to do.
4. Write your goals down.
When you write something down, it’s no longer a thought in your mind, but a task that you need to finish. Better yet, write it where you can see it every day. A constant reminder of your goal will keep it in the forefront of your mind and motivation.
There is a great story about an up-and coming comic who met Jerry Seinfeld backstage at a show one night. The comic asked Jerry for any tips he had on how to become a better comic. Jerry explained that the way to become a better comic was to write better jokes, and the way to write better jokes was to write every day. Even when it’s the last thing you want to do.
How Jerry told him to stick to that goal of writing every day was to get a big wall calendar, and for every day you accomplished your task, in this case writing, put a big red X on the calendar for that day. After a few days you’ll start to have a chain of red X’s on the calendar, and you’ll like seeing that chain the longer it gets. At that point your only goal becomes to not break the chain.
Try it with your goal – whether it’s going to the gym, eating healthy meals or writing jokes. Write your goal down where you can see it and start marking those days off on the calendar with big red X’s. It works because by not breaking that chain of X’s you’re building a consistent daily habit that will be easier and easier to continue.
5. Make your goal something that you want, really badly.
Just because something sounds good, or you think it would make other people happy and proud of you doesn’t mean it’s a good goal for you. Your goal should be something that you value and want to reach with everything you have. You should not have to convince yourself that this is what you want. You shouldn’t do this for anyone but yourself!
Now that you have the tools to create a fantastic goal, it is time to take the necessary steps to achieve it. Be selective with who you share your goals with. Unfortunately, most of us find more negativism in our lives from those around us instead than unconditional support. Only share goals with the people who you know will give you the support and help that you need. Remind yourself of your goals daily, and visualize yourself reaching those goals. The power of visualization is extremely effective. And lastly, when you feel like giving up on a goal or that you have steered too far off the path, don’t give up. Take the time to reassess your goal and your values, but remind yourself why you chose this goal in the first place. Remember that consistency over time trumps a handful of great days here and there.
With these steps you’ll be able to set great goals and have plans to achieve them. No more will you be flailing aimlessly at a goal that was doomed from the start, you’ll have the vision and the plan to change your life for good!
Readers: What goals have you set for yourself? What kind of progress are you making towards reaching your goals? What do you find most difficult with in reaching your goals, and how do you overcome it?