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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

The Key To Reaching Your Goals: Willpower And Planning

The Key To Reaching Your Goals: Willpower And Planning
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Most of us have goals. Our goals should be the reason we wake up in the morning and do the things we do. How many times have you written down goals and promised yourself to stick to reaching them? You find yourself succeeding for the first week or two (exceptional cases would be a month) and then you lose track of the routine, slide back into old habits, and three months later have made no real progress. This is a very demotivating cycle in life and we have all been there one too many times. It’s not only encompassed by lack of motivation and discipline, but also by the poor execution of our goal setting.

While most of us focus on the end goal and how little progress we’ve made, rarely do we look into these two important things: willpower and planning

Willpower has been defined as: “control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses” (Cambridge). This is often mistaken for motivation. Motivation is the urge or deep desire to do something, will power is following through even under undesirable circumstances.

The first thing we need to focus on when setting our goals is how much will power are we going to have? This can be hard to determine as we do not know what tomorrow brings. However, we can still exercise our will to our favour.

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Exercising your will power

The first step to exercising will power is becoming conscious of the need for will power. Say, hypothetically, your goal was to cut down on the amount of time spent on social media. List down events that will require the will power.

  1. Free time on your hands
  2. Pop ups and notifications
  3. When work is going slow
  4. When you’re avoiding completing a project

These are just random guesses; however, we are able to identify the enemy and fight it off with will. When your become conscious about the need to exercise your will and not just trying to stay motivated, you are better prepared to fight the temptation to give in to distractions.

The plan

The second part of our goal setting is planning. Numerous studies show the advantages of planning, some have even concluded that just having a plan in place increases your chances of success.

The plan is a map that shows you how to get to the finish line. Once again, using our hypothetical goal of cutting down on social media time,  your end goal could be to spend 30 minutes on Facebook a day and no more. How do you go about achieving this goal if you currently spend 3-4 hours on social media daily? A good way to plan this is first identifying why it matters to you that you achieve this goal?

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  1. You could be more productive if you spent less time on social media
  2. Your work wouldn’t pile up
  3. You have more actual free time to just chill without guilt about incomplete work
  4. For your own sanity

These are motivators. Now that you’ve established why it’s important to you, how will you go about achieving this?

Take it one step at a time

Our biggest mistake is taking giant leaps. Habits are built over time. They don’t happen overnight. A good plan would be writing down a list of important things that need your attention, such as a report that’s overdue or studying for an upcoming exam. When your priorities are in mind and sight you are more willing to work on it and not procrastinate.

Now that you’ve got your plan of action and a list of events that could deter you from your plan, this eliminates blindsides and makes you feel more in control.

Bring it down to bite size chunks

What do we mean by bite size chunks? It simply means, do not bite off more than you can chew. Set realistic and achievable goals. Dreaming of becoming president isn’t unrealistic, but it is unrealistic when you have no political experience, no background in politics, and lack the right skills or expertise to hold such a post. Realistic means something that is achievable within a given time frame.

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To cut down on social media from 4 hours to 30 minutes in one day is unrealistic. A bite size chunk would be turning off notifications and only logging on during tea or lunch breaks. Take it one step at a time.

Keep track

Always keep track of where you are. All too often, people look at the end goal, then look at where they currently are and lose motivation. However, if you look back at where you’ve been, you are able to measure and keep pushing. Maybe you went on social media longer than lunch break on Tuesday. Don’t let that discourage you. Look to your track keeping journal, and you’ll notice you’ve gone from 4 hours to 3.5 hours in two week. Instead of being discouraged, focus on this small victory. Victories trigger positive emotion that makes us believe we can achieve these goals.

Outdo yourself

If you’ve cut down your social media usage by 30 minutes, challenge yourself to cut it down by another 30 minutes over the following weeks, then add another 30 after some time, and so forth. After some time you’ll go down from 4 hours to 30 minutes!

Conclusion

The key to reaching your goal lies within your own will and commitment to becoming a better version of yourself. Reaching your goals also requires setting the right plans in place to achieve them. When you are able to follow these guidelines and stay committed to good habits and proper routine there will be no need for willpower and planning. You will be on autopilot. You can set higher goals and achieve even more. If you are setting goals and failing, you are already on the right track. Having goals in the first place shows that you want to change, grow, and develop. You have been equipped with everything you need to be your absolute best. So when the tough gets going remind yourself why it is important to you.

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Goal infographic

    Featured photo credit: Jess Bailey via unsplash.com

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    Kayiba Mpoyi

    Writer by birth

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    Last Updated on July 25, 2021

    A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

    A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success
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    If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, underlined, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to master effective goal setting and have an aim in mind before you get on with the process. While there may not be an actual rule book of life, we do have this helpful goal setting guide to offer.

    Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

    You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you, as all the following information has you covered.

    Today, you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

    What Are Goals?

    To kick off our goal setting guide, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

    A goal is essentially your aim for the long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

    Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals[1].

    Objects vs goals for goal setting tips

      For example, you may decide you want to learn a new language. Your goal is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and monthly learning aims, are the objectives.

      Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

      However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

      Why Is Goal Setting Important?

      Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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      While that road can feel exciting and spontaneous, if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, learning how to set goals is necessary.

      Being committed to a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results[2].

      Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

      Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity.

      Types of Goals

      Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting tips.

      These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.

      Time-Based

      One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

      Daily

      There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

      Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

      Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

      Short-Term

      Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, goal setting in this area is aimed at the near future.

      The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have a general idea of how much the situation can change.

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      Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

      Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

      Long-Term

      Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

      Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

      Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

      There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

      They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various, short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

      Life-Based

      Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

      Career

      Like most people, you will likely want to succeed and excel in your career. Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal. These are usually measurable goals, such as receiving a promotion within two years, finding a job at a certain company within the next six months, etc.

      You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

      Personal

      The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

      From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal. It’s important that these are realistic and attainable goals for your life.

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      Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, have children, or travel the world, all of these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

      How to Set Goals

      The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way.

      1. Use SMART Goals

      Every goal you define has to be SMART[3].

      SMART stands for:

      • Specific
      • Measurable
      • Attainable
      • Relevant
      • Time-Bound

      In summary, your specific goals should be very well defined. They shouldn’t be generic or broad, and every detail should be clarified as you’re goal setting. 

      If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

      There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

      2. Prioritize Your Goals

      As you’re looking into how to write goals for the next month or year, it’s likely you’ll come up with more than one. In this case, it’s important to prioritize which are the most important or the ones that have the tightest deadline. This is going to be subjective, as only you know which goals will have the most impact on your life.

      3. Think of Those Around You

      As you’re working on goal setting, keep your loved ones in mind. You may have a partner, children, or employees that depend on you, and you should take them into consideration with your goals. For example, if you set a goal to travel to 10 different countries in the next two years, how will this affect your children?

      If you want to lose 30 pounds this year, is there something your partner can do to support you? S/he will need to be made aware of this before you set off on your weight loss journey.

      4. Take Action

      Setting goals is the first step, but in order to be successful, you have to follow this with action. If you set goals but never act on them, they become dreams. Create an action plan laying out the steps you need to take each day or week in order to achieve your big and small goals.

      You can also check out Lifehack’s free guide: The Dreamers’ Guide for Taking Action and Making Goals Happen. This helpful guide will push you to take action on your goals, so check it out today!

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      5. Don’t Forget the Bigger Picture

      Most people refer to the big picture as their vision. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

      You can learn more about creating a vision for your life here.

      I also recommend you to watch this video to learn 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

      How to Reach Your Goals

      You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

      Tactics

      One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Create an action plan and focus on one thing at a time.

      Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it much easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

      Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

      Tools

      With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

      Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

      The Bottom Line

      In conclusion, using a goal setting tips guide is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

      Try out the tactics and goals setting tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

      More Tips on Achieving Success

      Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

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      Reference

      [1] Smart Insights: The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?
      [2] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
      [3] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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