How many times have you set a goal and not reached it? You're not alone. Not being able to reach your goal is much more common than you think.
The typical scenario goes something like this: you've had a goal in mind for a while. At the start, you're raring to go, feeling motivated and optimistic. But before you know it, that feeling fades, life gets in the way, excuses start cropping up, and your motivation wanes. The goal suddenly doesn't seem so achievable anymore.
But why is that, and how do you stop it?
Let’s delve a little deeper into what goes on.
Motivation is a great feeling, but it's just that — a feeling. Like all feelings, it comes and goes, sometimes very quickly. While starting a goal with a positive mindset and high motivation is important, it's unlikely to last the entire journey. This is why it's crucial to take some time to understand how you'll approach your goal, or your chances of success will be limited.
What if we take a moment now to switch things up and approach your goals for 2023 differently, incorporating key strategies that make your plan of attack more achievable and enjoyable?
12 Effective Ways To Reach Your Goals
1. Start right.
Please, don't go too ahead of yourself and try to tackle all 17 of your new year’s goals at once. Be smart about it and consider if you really want or need to hit all those targets. Less is often more, so choose one or two goals and make them your main focus. Don't try and juggle 17 balls at once (unless that's your actual goal, of course).
2. Know your “why”
This is where goal-setting should always start. You need to have a clear understanding of what these goals will do for you and your life. If the reason behind them isn't strong enough or doesn't align with your values, you won't have enough focus and intention to really make it happen. Desire, focus and intention are the three things that make a recipe for success. So take a moment to think about why you want this goal and make it specific.
Things to consider:
What feelings will you have if you achieve this goal?
What parts of your life will change if you reach it?
How will it affect your self-perception?
If the answers to these questions give you positive, excited, or hopeful feelings, then your goals are probably worth chasing.
3. Outcome vs. process
It's important to be specific, and this also applies to the type of goal you choose. The way you frame your goals can affect how successful you are. Outcome-based goals — like losing a stone in two months, going to the gym every Monday, or running a marathon in under four hours — are different from process-based goals — like reducing sweet treats to one a day, increasing movement over the week, or committing to a running programme for three months.
Ask yourself which type of goal is likely to be more beneficial for you. Outcome-based goals can put a lot of pressure on your performance while process-based goals let you enjoy the journey and see the process as part of the achievement. This can make the journey much more reflective, mindful and educational. Plus, it opens up opportunities for smaller wins and goals along the way.
4. Celebrate the journey and the small wins
It's important not to overlook the small victories along the way. Finding small opportunities for you to reach milestones can help keep you motivated and make you aware of your progress. This can give you a boost and make you feel good about your efforts.
Why not get a bit creative and make a "rewards chart"? You could add a bit of excitement and fun to the process by creating a chart that you can show off and use to express your progress.
Think about setting yourself incentives for your progress. For example, you could set a baseline score for a run and aim to beat it after four weeks, with a new pair of trainers as a reward. Or, once you've been consistent with your nutrition for three weeks, treat yourself to some new cooking equipment. Find incentives that work for you.
5. Talk it out
Expressing your goals to others or even having someone else working towards the same goal as you can make the good days even better and the tough days a little easier.
One study found that when people were walking up a steep hill, they perceived it as less steep if they had a friend with them. This shows that companionship can make a task seem less daunting and more manageable.
Remember, your friend doesn't have to be working towards the same goal as you. It's not the goal that's important, it's the process of dealing with challenges and struggles that often feels easier with a friend by your side. They'll be there for you, no matter what your goal is.
6. Visualise success
Vision boards are becoming more popular among goal-setters for a reason. Vision boards and imagining success can increase your confidence in your ability to succeed.
Pinterest or the classic cut-and-stick method could be an effective way to get inspiration for your vision board and give you a confidence boost.
7. Sources and resources
Keeping yourself motivated can be easier when you have others to listen to, learn from, and laugh along with, especially if they’re chasing a similar goal. Plus, listening to podcasts and reading books that focus on your goal or on "setting goals" in general can boost your motivation.
It's often comforting to hear from others who've been there and made it through. With so many options available, it's worth taking some time to find the resources that work best for you. (A personal recommendation for motivation and inspiration is the "The Diary of a CEO" podcast with Steven Bartlett.)
8. Watch your words
How you talk about yourself and your goals is important. That's right, many of us overlook this, but the tone you use when discussing your goals can have a real impact. If you keep talking about how tough it is and how much of a struggle it is, you will start to focus on the negativity, and it will make the challenge seem even more difficult.
On the other hand, if you focus on your small victories, how you showed up even when you didn't want to, and how you bounced back from setbacks, you will prove to yourself that you're capable.
A useful exercise each morning is to complete these sentences to build your resilience and self-belief:
Give it a go.
9. Be the person you want to be
What will achieving your goal give you? For many of us, it's confidence. So, start acting like that confident version of yourself from the get-go — even if you don't feel it yet.
How would that confident person show up? Maybe you'd wear that gym gear you love but don't feel ready for just yet? Even simple actions like choosing to wear those clothes, having that conversation, or creating that content, even before you feel ready, sends a message to your brain that you're becoming that "higher self".
It won't be comfortable, but if you're waiting for comfort to come after you reach your goal, it probably won't be as amazing as you thought it would. So, feel the fear, start now as the person you want to be, and take those actions now.
10. Professional pointers
Don't be afraid to reach out for help when trying to achieve your goal. There are plenty of professionals out there who would love to share their expertise, knowledge, and support with you.
Personal trainers, dietitians, community organisations, and sports clubs can help you reach your goal more easily. Even coaches often have coaches themselves. Support and accountability can be a real game-changer, so think about seeking some extra guidance.
11. Document it all
Whether you keep it personal or share it with others, documenting your progress can provide the accountability we often need. That little bit of pressure can help us rise to the challenge and thrive. People who write record their goals are often more likely to achieve them than those who don't. So, keeping a record of your progress, both challenges and successes, can be beneficial.
12. Imperfect action
Finally, and most importantly, remember that there will be setbacks, disruptions to your plan, and times when things don't feel good. This is normal and part of the process. Imperfect action is always better than an "all or nothing" attitude.
Starting with the idea that your actions won't be perfect will help you avoid feelings of guilt and shame when things don't go according to plan. Just show up, take small actions consistently, and be patient with yourself. This will give you a much stronger foundation for success.
Take Home Message
As you start putting these ideas into action, focus on process over results. Some days you may feel like you’re failing or regressing, but a moment in time doesn't determine your results if your actions are aligned with your goal.
Plan, do, review. And you should succeed in reaching your goal. Now, go get started.
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