Do you ever wish your life was different? Have you found yourself wishing you were more organized, physically fit, better with money, or further along in your career?
I know I have.
Want to know the secret to improving yourself? It lies within the art of setting goals!
Yep, I consider it an art.
If you want to learn some successful goal setting tips, and how to set achievable goals, just keep reading!
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How to set goals and achieve them
1. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.
Goal Setting 101 starts with making sure your goals are:
Let’s say you want to start paying off your $1500 credit card debt. Don’t just tell yourself that you ‘want to become debt-free.’
Set a goal of paying $250 extra a month toward your debt to have it paid off in 6 months.
It is both specific and measurable, because you know exactly how much to pay. It’ll be clear whether or not you hit your goal each month.
You know it’s attainable and realistic if you cut back on eating out and unnecessary shopping. And it’s time-bound with that 6 month goal in mind.
2. Agree to make different choices
Nothing in your life will change unless you start making different choices. By taking new action toward your goals, you will begin to see how your life can improve.
Setting goals without being willing to act differently is meaningless.
You have to do the work. Having goals is the easy part. Accepting the sacrifices to make them happen is where the challenge lies.
Always remember that you are in control of your own actions, and likewise, your own life.
3. Write down your goals
Research has shown that writing down your goals has a huge impact on the likelihood that you’ll actually achieve them.
Not to get too scientific, but the act of writing down your dreams and goals involves both sides of your brain. It’s a step beyond just thinking about your goals.
This sends a strong message to your brain that you mean business.
Writing your goals down can help you make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T., and not just some random shot in the dark.
I really like this Plan Act Grow planner to help with goal setting and planning. It’ll help you build the habits that will support your goals.
4. Break them down into steps
Now that you have your goal in writing, jot down the steps it’ll take to make it happen.
For example, if you want to start cooking at home more to save money, Step 1 could be to research meal planning.
Helpful meal planning resources:
- 5 Super Easy Meal Planning Strategies for Beginners
- How to Create Your Own Meal Planning Binder (using this free printable kit!)
- 10 Easy and Cheap Meals ANYONE Can Make
Breaking your goal down into simple, actionable steps takes the guesswork and intimidation out of it.
If you’re a procrastinator (like me!), these small stages seem far more doable that some broad, scary goal.
Remember that icky old adage, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ It just makes sense.
5. Keep track of your progress
Be sure to monitor your progress throughout. The small wins of accomplishing each step toward your goal are a great motivation to propel you forward.
Remember how you wrote down your goal, and all the steps involved?
Check them off, cross them out, or write the date you mastered each one as you go.
This frequent reminder is just what you need to stay on track. You can even treat yourself to small rewards as you go. A little incentive goes a long way!
Really want to increase your happiness and enjoy your life more? Check out the Enjoy Your Life More workbook.
It walks you through discovering what is and isn’t working in your life right now. And how to fix it!
6. Don’t get distracted
Maybe you’re the type of person who starts a variety of new things, but often lacks the follow-through necessary to complete them. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you.
For those of us with ‘shiny object syndrome,’ it is so important to stay focused on the goals we set. One way is to concentrate on one goal at a time.
You’re not going to reinvent yourself instantly.
If you wish you could lose weight, pay off debt, get a new job, and rescue 3 dogs all at once, you’re probably just going to get frustrated and do nothing.
Pick one goal and make some major headway on it before adding another.
7. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do
There’s something about restricting ourselves that just makes human beings rebel.
That’s one of the problems with diets. If you start thinking that you’ll start a diet on Monday, I bet you’ll spend the weekend feasting on all the foods you’re going to miss.
The key is to stop thinking about what you won’t be able to do when you’re trying to reach your goal. Don’t think of it in terms of restriction at all!
Take positive action and research some healthy, tasty recipes. Write down your meal plan for the week and grocery shop for those ingredients.
Look toward your goal with enthusiasm, instead of dread.
8. Have patience
When asked whether she was being patient, my grandmother once said, “No, I never cared for it.”
While I thought that was hilarious, I understood her sentiment completely.
If patience isn’t your superpower either, the endurance it can take to reach a goal can be challenging.
But I promise that reaching that goal is worth the wait!
Big goals take time, and expecting immediate results can be the downfall of successful goal setting.
9. Tell people about your goals
Telling people about your new goals makes them seem more real. It’s beneficial in two ways.
Having the support of a friend or relative in your corner is incredibly helpful and motivating. It also serves to hold you accountable.
Just be sure to tell people who will be supportive, not naggy. You want to keep the entire process positive!
10. Recruit a buddy
Now that you’ve told some people about your new goal, maybe they’ll feel inspired and want to join you.
Nothing makes working toward a goal more enjoyable than doing it with someone you like.
If your goal is to run a 5k, a training buddy can help you stay motivated and build excitement.
If you want to stop ordering takeout every night, you and a friend could have a freezer cooking session.
Or you could help each other declutter your basements and have a two-family garage sale.
Strengthening a friendship or starting a new one can be the perfect added benefit to achieving your goal.
11. Know your why
If you find yourself losing motivation toward your goal, remind yourself why you set this goal in the first place.
Maybe you want to pay off your student loans so you can start saving for a house down payment.
Or maybe you want to start a side business so you can stay home with your kids, or retire early.
Remembering your purpose can go a long way in staying focused on your goal. If it helps, keep a picture or note that signifies your dream somewhere you can see it daily.
Keep your eyes on the prize!
12. Think about your goal every day
Make sure your goals don’t get stale! Ideally, you should make time every day to take some action toward them.
Make time is the operative phrase here. We must make time for what is important to us.
You may have to scale back on the less important things that steal your time in order to achieve your goals.
Don’t fall victim to your own excuse that you ‘don’t have time.’ You can’t afford to waste time being less than your best.
“Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” -Earl Nightingale
I hope you enjoyed these tips for how to set goals and achieve them. Cheers to the new, goal-crushing you!
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