Achieving goals is the gateway to living a happier life.
This is something that I feel not a lot of people really understand. We tend to brush aside the idea of goals and setting them and continue the pathway that we’re on.
That’s honestly not a bad thing, but in so many cases, a lot of people are unhappy with their decisions. Not to mention unhappy with their own lives.
As such, I think it’s important to get back to reminding people how important goals really are. But also to do them properly as so many people who have tried in the past have failed terribly.
So here are a handful of tips to keep in mind with goals, setting them, and actually achieving them.
You Will Fail
Let’s get the hard one out of the way.
The first important tip to keep in mind is that you will fail. These techniques and tips have both proven to work, but also proven to fail for people. There is no specific set of steps that one has to do to achieve their goals.
All there are are suggestions and articles like these that present ideas that could possibly help you.
I’m not saying that these methods I’m about to tell you are a complete waste of your time. However it’s important to know some methods will work for you while others don’t.
And that’s okay.
A journey isn’t as memorable if there is no risk involved. In fact, if life were as easy as imagining us obtaining everything we ever wanted and receiving no opposition it would dreadfully dull.
Instead, we need to teach ourselves that the road to our goals is going to be filled with failures. And by accepting that fate, we can learn to better manage that as failure is often the biggest contributor to us giving up.
Accepting already that we will run into bumps or obstacles will help us better prepare for them mentally.
Have A Why
Simon Sinek introduced the concept of having a why when it comes to setting goals. It’s a fundamental process and is a stronger system I find than the traditional SMART goal structure.
There’s nothing wrong with SMART goals, however I find that by setting a goal and connecting a why to that goal would lead us to goals that not only meet the SMART goal criteria, but also give us massive motivation.
By having a why, you’re spending time discovering who you are and what you want to become. This is crucial in today’s society as we are so often in situations where we don’t know where we are going.
We are passengers in our own plane rather than the pilot.
Having a why gives us a better idea of how we want to achieve goals and what we truly want to set. We slowly become the pilot in this scenario.
Have Goals That Build Systems
One thing I’ve been talking about a little bit is having goals build towards systems. It actually makes a lot of sense when you start thinking about it.
The goals that we are setting typically boil down to habits.
If you want to lose weight, you need to build a habit of exercising regularly, and eating healthy.
To have whiter and healthier teeth, you build a habit of brushing and flossing on the regular.
But obviously we hit roadblocks along the way in those sorts of things and that’s where systems come into play. You see, the habits that we build up are all part of that system. I know this best based on my own experiences with my superhero workout challenge. Even though it’s brutal, I still put an effort to exercising on the regular.
I’ll admit this week has been a sloppy job of that, but I have a system that will allow me to get back in. All I had to do was practice a few other habits that I outline in my video.
At the end of the day, goals aren’t exactly the only key to victory here. Goals help us recognize what sort of parts we need in order to develop ourselves and achieve those goals.
Make Yourself Accountable
While having a why is certainly a good accountability system (the goal you set is something you personally want to achieve right?), there are other forms that can help solidify it too.
One of the biggest is to provide other incentives and involve other people in your goals. I know from my own personal experiences that when I have someone checking up on me with regards to my goals, I’m more likely to work towards them. This was in fact how I first got into goals as one of my friend’s was looking for an accountability partner to help him focus on his goals.
There’s No Shame In Changing Goals
Sometimes all you need to do is work on something for a little while before you realize you’re doing the wrong thing. If you are in that state or feeling like something isn’t right for you, don’t be afraid to pause and reconsider.
But above all, don’t be scared or be ashamed if you need to change your goals around.
As I just said, sometimes you need to pursue something for a bit before realizing it’s not for you. That or maybe you find another method that’ll help you achieve your goals faster and easier.
Whatever the case is, there’s nothing wrong with that as these are your own goals. And on that note.
Involve People, But Don’t Always Heed Their Words
Studies show that when we discuss our goals with people, our likelihood of success increases substantially. I agree with this completely as I am a prime example of talking to others about my goals and putting an effort into achieving them.
But while I think it’s important to make friends with businesses, and individuals and share our goals with them, it’s important to recognize how much power we are giving them.
After all, while these people may be determined to help you grow and achieve goals, they don’t know you completely as you know yourself.
We are constantly growing and changing as a result and our goals may shift from the events and our reactions to those events as well. It’s why I don’t mind sharing my goals with people, but take peoples advice on the matter with a pinch of salt. I’ll listen, but they aren’t the ones to make the final decision.
I recommend doing the same, even with advice like this.
Write Down Your Goals
Writing down goals is another aspect I find that has helped me. Writing on paper seems like a dated practice these days and while some people use that as a means to write on paper less, I think it’s a reason to write more on paper.
For me, writing things down is a way to tell my brain that what I’m writing is extremely important. It helps me to keep it in my mind rather than brush it away time and again like many other people.
Writing out our goals and the steps to achieve it make it feel realistic in our head than putting it in our phone or in a document.
Set Goals You Can Control
To be achieving goals, you want to be setting goals that are within your control.
This is so obvious, and yet people skip over this every time.
Take weight loss for example. So many people set goals that they want to be losing a certain number of pounds over the year. While this goal may seem like a SMART goal at first, the issue with that is weight loss is actually not as in control as you might think.
Absolutely, we can be exercising daily, eating healthy foods, curb cravings, and so on. But that doesn’t always equal weight loss. I know for myself during this challenge I’ve been working out extensively, eating healthy, and my weight hasn’t been shifting much at all.
My point is, while our weight can be influenced by other factors, we can’t control our weight completely. What we can control though is those factors that lead to general weight loss.
Setting goals where we vow to cut down carbs, exercise a certain number of days over the week, or to start counting calories are all things that are influenced by our own actions. From there we can be achieving goals with relative ease. After all, we can clearly measure our success by looking at the habits that we’re using.
Consider The Short-Term Benefits
More often than not, we focus on the bigger picture of what we want. We want to hit a certain weight or make a certain amount of money. That’s all well and good, but we often focus on that so much we fail to recognize the tiny aspects.
This is something that I’ve come to understand during my superhero workout challenge. For a long time, I was focusing on the weight loss aspect and not considering the other things around me.
My attention shifted eventually and part of that was influenced by the fact I wasn’t losing weight. I was already plateauing.
In most cases, people would give up, but instead I pushed on and began looking at the short term benefits.
I am growing stronger every day.
I learned about setting a system for my goals and what parts I needed.
There was also a deeper understanding of myself as I am pursuing this goal and doing this challenge.
These small benefits I would not have recognized if I was focusing entirely on the overall purpose of this goal.
Ambition is great, and nothing screams it more than setting a big goal. But as someone who has been achieving goals, I can tell you it’s not the best idea to start right out the gate running.
For sure, your emotions will be sky high and for good reason. Setting a big goal is enough for our brain to inject itself with dopamine, a feel good drug. The issue with dopamine though is that it doesn’t really help us in taking action or putting effort.
It doesn’t even consider the gravity of how difficult something can actually be.
You see this all the time in network marketing. Each pitch is designed to get you excited about being your own boss, driving a fancy car, and changing your life around dramatically.
But they often leave out the part where the person struggled for several years.
And so when people get in and realize that not everything is going to be handed to you and you have to work harder than you did in your day job, people start to lose hope.
But the thing is, we can avoid that rollercoaster of emotions. We can hype ourselves and get excited over certain prospects, but we have to learn control. Control in this case would be to setting smaller goals.
Instead of aiming for the 20 pound weight loss, tell ourselves to cut out carbs in our last meal of the day. That or maybe walk or bike to work if that’s at all realistic.
By setting smaller goals, we are building ourselves up for those bigger goals that require more mental strength from us.
Dedicate Time To Your Goals Exclusively
How I got into the habit of writing was through something I didn’t even realize I was doing.
I told myself that I had to write at least one article every day.
From there, I immediately jumped to dedicating a certain amount of time every day towards that objective. I woke up and the first thing I did was begin writing an article on a topic I was passionate about.
Yes they were god awful pieces of writing, but I focused more on writing rather than criticizing my own work.
This is nothing short of discipline and it works with every type of goal out there. And while that is so obvious, again, people can get distracted. Not to mention there are a slew of other factors that make it challenging for us to stick to habits.
Do It Anyway Regardless Of Feelings
Our emotions get in the way on a number of cases. In fact our brain is one of the largest roadblocks we will ever face in achieving goals.
I already mentioned the dopamine stuff, but our brain can do all kinds of other things. After all, our brain is what influences our emotions and decisions.
Depending on our situation, it can be easy for us to doubt our abilities, to feel anxious, or to give up on a habit or goal. And a lot of that points back to our own feelings.
Overcoming emotions isn’t an easy task and each person is different. For me, I am of the mind to do the activity anyway. And sometimes I need a little coaxing as well.
For example, how I got to doing 100 push-ups, sit-ups and squats for my superhero workout challenge was to build up to that. I started with doing 20 every day of each exercise and eventually moved it up to 30 and so on.
I did that enough to the point where I was confident in my strengths to do the full 100.
This same strategy can work for you and it goes back to my previous point of starting slow and setting a low bar. If it’s too easy, you can easily persuade yourself to go higher.
Set Life-Altering Goals Once In A While
When achieving goals, you want to start off with something small. The habits that you are building up towards should be small things in the grand scheme of things. From something like jogging in the morning to even writing in a journal, these things don’t take a lot of time out of your day.
But when you feel the time is right, I would encourage you to challenge yourself and set a goal that you’re really passionate about. Something that you really want to work towards.
I encourage this because more often than not, those goals are going to be outlandish.
I’m talking about the “climbing Mount Everest” type of crazy. Something that no one wouldn’t really expect you to do, but it’s been on your mind for a long time.
These goals are incredibly powerful because these are the goals that for you right now would be impossible to achieve. However, by working towards those goals little by little, they can begin to shape you and change your life forever.
This goal for me is to start a proper YouTube channel and be a writer at the same time. When I first started it 4 years ago, I was lazy, a massive procrastinator, and nothing short of a hypocrite.
I was in a weird spot for sure.
But over the years I started to take this gig seriously. Now I’m working for people, growing my writing skills, and contributing to other websites like Medium.com.
At the end of the day, people are starting to take me seriously rather than doubting me when I tell them that I’m a writer. And a lot of that comes from me working towards this outlandish goal of mine.
Have Strong Incentives
Having a why and some accountability is certainly great incentive, but there are several cases where having more doesn’t hurt. Incentives is something that while may be a touch redundant in this post is still something that we should have ample of in our pursuit of achieving goals.
You can never go wrong with having more reasons to complete something.
Furthermore incentives tend to overlap those other techniques as well in various ways. For example, when I took my 6-week health challenge, I had to put $500 on the line around the time I didn’t have much money.
Putting that money on the line was a HUGE incentive and a good why for me to show up, workout, and stick to the diet they provided.
This same principal can apply with other people being involved. You can make a small bet with someone that if you achieve your goal they are to give you the money you gave them as a bet. If you don’t succeed, they keep that money.
But other incentives don’t have to be all about money.
You can look for other emotional incentives, kind of along the same lines as your why. There will always be other incentives that you can discover.
Don’t Be Afraid To Start Over
The last tip I want to share with you is to not be afraid of starting over. For any long time readers of my blog, you know that something is way off with this already.
Where did all my content go?
Well as I was moving my site to a new server, I failed to back up my files. While that blunder is certainly disappointing, I don’t think backing up my files would even work with this new site.
I know this because I tried uploading the files I did back up and my site gave me a blank white screen.
Leaving me with no other option, I am left with the decision that I’m presenting to you now. I’m making new content. But not just making any kind of content.
You see, starting over or shifting gears isn’t a bad thing as some people would think. Absolutely there are some major downsides, but it’s not like that knowledge is simply gone to waste.
If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, you can see already the content I’ve published personally is better. It’s more detailed and there is more care and consideration placed in it.
This is different than the typical posts I would’ve published before.
My point is, these same principals apply whenever you change goals or simply start over. There’s no sense in beating yourself up over something as trivial as starting over. Yes it sucks, but you’ve gained a tremendous amount from the experience than you realized.
It’s a matter of checking yourself.
Achieving Goals Is Easier Than You Think
The process of achieving goals is indeed a difficult path, but more often than not, we over-dramatize the idea of working towards our goals. We naturally have a negative outlook and tend to inflate problems to be bigger than they already are.
It’s important for us to recognize this as we can begin to change our mindset and start to believe that we can achieve the goals that we want.
I certainly believe that as I’ve been working on my writing career for 4 years at this point. Over those years I learned to take it seriously and to put an effort into making money and it’s at the point now where I’m close to making a livable wage.
Where I’m at right now is a stark difference to when I started out. A man who wrote, but didn’t focus on getting any better.
All of this changed as soon as I started to set small goals for myself and build myself to this point by achieving those goals time and again. So I know you can do the same.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon