It already is the middle of the month, and you started the year with a bang! How do I know? Because everywhere you look, you can see ways to set goals and make it happen this year.
I love setting goals and creating a vision of myself for the New Year. The past couple of years made it challenging to stay on course. Creating a vision gives you that needed clarity as you emerge as a New You.
You have the destination. Now it is time to figure out how to get there.
Only by taking action you create change. And setting goals will do just that: help you to move towards your vision.
I know what you are thinking: you tried setting goals before and it didn’t work, so why bother? You had everything planned and were motivated to start, but somehow it didn’t happen.
Don’t beat yourself up. Most likely you just didn’t have the missing puzzle in how to create goals that can be accomplished.
I have great news for you! I am about to change the way you think about setting goals. Read on to find out the 3 key things you need to know while creating goals to set yourself up for success.
1. Goal Setting 101
The first key is the type of goals you are setting. Did you want to lose weight? Or maybe be more relaxed and calmer? Did you want to stick to your exercise routine?
The goals are great. And you started strong, but somehow you didn’t accomplish them, right?
Let me assure you that there isn't anything wrong with you. Or your willpower or motivation levels. It simply didn’t work because you were setting the wrong goals!
Humans are wired to think about the instant outcome they want to get. So when it comes to setting goals, it is only natural to think about the outcome. After all, you need to know what you want to achieve.
To be successful with your new year wellness goals, you need to shift your thinking from what you want to get to how you're going to get it.
Let's dissect your outcome goals so this year you will achieve the desired outcome. So, you will make it happen, and prove that you are more than capable of keeping your word.
My take is that there wasn't anything wrong with the goal itself. Do you want to lose weight? Good! Do you want to eat healthier? Great! Do you want to find more time and stress less? Excellent!
So, how are you going to do it? Your goal needs to focus on the behaviour that will take you closer to your destination. What action do you need to take to make it happen?
If you want to eat healthier, what steps do you need to take to feel like you achieved your outcome? Do you need to drink 3 glasses of water a day instead of soda? Would eating salad for lunch five days a week do it?
Or maybe you want to exercise more. How often do you need to go to the gym? What type of exercise will give you more energy? What specific actions will get you the outcome you desire?
2. Put a Deadline on It
Have you ever said to yourself that you could achieve your goals if you had more time? It's easy to put aside our plans and dreams when there are so many other things to do. That is why the second key you need to know to set yourself up for success is related to timing.
I'm sure you've heard about SMART goals.
Yes, goals need to be SMART. They need to be specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, and with a timeframe to be classified as goals. The more specific you can get about what you need to be doing to achieve what you want, the better your chances of actually doing and achieving it.
The more boxes you can tick from the SMART acronym, the better your chances of going through. Neuroscience 101 teaches us that our brain can only recognise specifics. If an idea is vague and our brain needs to think about actions associated with it, it burns too much energy, and our willpower diminishes.
So, the more specific you are, the better.
However, even the most crafted goal without a deadline is just a dream. You can tell yourself to eat better, exercise more, improve your sleeping habits or lose 5kilos. But if you don’t tell yourself when you want to get this done, it will never happen.
Have you ever had a deadline for a project to finish? That deadline worked as a motivator to actually finishing that project. It worked because you are wired to look for the finish line.
Take a moment now, look at your goals and put a deadline on them.
Examine how much time you need to achieve each one of them. How difficult are they to achieve? Are they ambitious? Do you already have the skills and expertise you need to successfully complete them?
How much time will it take you to make the progress you want? Be realistic, don’t say that you lose 20kilos in one month because not only you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself, but you are setting yourself up to fail before you even start.
Also, challenge yourself.
Don’t give yourself three months to do something you know can be realistically accomplished in two. Some level of challenge needs to be incorporated into your goal to keep it attractive. Otherwise, you will get bored and unmotivated to carry on.
You need to be specific with setting goals. And you need to be specific with your deadline too. Write down the exact date, day of the week and time you want to achieve this goal. This way you have a clear timeframe and a clear finish line.
And what's a better way to succeed?
3. Successful People Are Consistent
You put an exact date and time when you want your new goal to be achieved. That is fantastic! Now is the time to, well, start. You know by now that going to the gym once a month didn’t create those abs you wanted.
I suspect you tried a new fad diet to manage your weight, but the kilos reappeared. You tried something, and it either worked for a while or not, and you gave up.
Do you know why?
It is because a one-off action doesn’t produce lasting results. To make this year's goals a success, you need to stay with your actions long enough to get the desired outcome.
You need consistency.
To truly get to the finish line by building new healthy habits you need to be consistent. This means you keep repeating the same behaviour, over and over, until it becomes a habit. Once a habit is formed, it happens automatically.
No more fighting with yourself to go to the gym. You change into your gym clothes, you grab your gym bag, and off you go! Now, you don’t even think about it. You just do it.
Consider the old saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. But each and every day they were laying bricks. The same goes for your goal.
A one off big action won’t create the change you need. The same action, done repeatedly, will not only make it much easier for you to stick to it and keep going. It will create momentum and set you up for success!
How to Set Yourself up for Success
The ultimate difference between succeeding with your goals and not being able to achieve them lies in the type of goals you are setting. Focusing on the outcome alone won’t create it.
But if you focus on the specific behaviour, then you enter the path to achieving anything you want. Once you create a SMART behavioural goal, putting a deadline on it will program your brain to take action because you can see the finish line.
Nothing is achieved overnight, with one-off action, so consistently performing the same behaviour will make you build momentum and take you to the outcome you desire.
Are you ready to set yourself up for success? I am sure you are! What are your behavioural goals?
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