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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

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 May 6, 2021

    How to Be More Assertive and Go After Your Goals

    How to Be More Assertive and Go After Your Goals

    Life can be tough sometimes, which is why we need to be tough sometimes, too. Learning how to be more assertive is a great way to tick off your tasks and go after your goals and dreams.

    It’s not always easy being assertive, especially if you’re used to being a people-pleaser. You might fear that if you act assertively, you’ll be regarded as a demanding and unkind individual.

    However, as I’ll show you in the next few minutes, you can be both assertive and kind-hearted. Most importantly, if you sincerely want to achieve your goals, then it’s essential that you call upon the power of assertiveness.

    Having an assertive nature will help you overcome obstacles and reach your goals quicker than you may have imagined possible. Assertiveness is a core communication skill[1], one that allows you to stand up for your beliefs and to express yourself effectively.

    Of course, there are other advantages to being assertive:

    • Earn other people’s respect
    • Boost your confidence and self-esteem
    • Create win-win situations
    • Gain more career satisfaction
    • Create open and honest relationships

    At this point, you’re likely wondering what it takes to learn how to be more assertive. It will take some work on your part, but with a little effort, you can tackle this powerful skill.

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    1. Be Direct

    The first suggestion I have for you is based on the classic “less is more” philosophy of effective communication.

    When it comes to being direct, you shouldn’t make accusations or cause the other person to feel guilty or wrong. There’s no need for long-winded explanations, which can be misleading or confusing for the recipient. Offer a simple answer that doesn’t go too deep into unnecessary thoughts and feelings.

    Instead, get straight to your point as soon as you can. For example, instead of making excuses for why you can’t help a coworker on a project, simply say, “I’m really busy right now, so I can’t help with this. But please ask me again next time!” It’s direct, as well as kind, which makes both parties happy.

    Being direct will also help you avoid procrastinating when it comes to offering someone an answer. Instead of waiting to say no, you’ll learn how to offer the no immediately. If you find you struggle with procrastination in this area, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

    2. Stay Calm

    Another key component of learning how to be more assertive is having the confidence to keep your emotions in check when you need to convey something to someone. This helps in avoiding conflict while various points of view are being discussed.

    The trick is to detach your emotions from the situation and think logically. This will help make it easier to come across as in control, and it will inevitably gain a more respectful response from the other party.

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    3. Use “I” Statements

    Make it a habit to use statements like “I feel ” or “I believe.” Avoid phrases like “you never” or “you always,” which put people on the defense immediately and can lead to poor communication and shutdowns.

    “I” statements make you come off more confident and don’t make the other person feel as though you’re attacking them. In other words, state why you believe something rather than criticizing the other party’s viewpoint. 

    4. Say “No” More Often

    There is a great way to practice assertive behavior, which only requires you to utter a 2-letter word: no. 

    By practicing saying no to things you cannot or don’t want to do, you’ll be exercising your assertiveness in a simple but effective way. You don’t need to feel that saying no is selfish; it’s simply a way to make sure you’re putting your energy toward things that matter to you.

    5. Don’t Apologize 

    Many people have the tendency to begin every potentially assertive statement with an apology. For example, you may say something like, “Sorry to bother you, but could you…” 

    These come across as weak and passive — and certainly not assertive. 

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    There’s a time and place for being apologetic (e.g., when you’ve accidentally knocked over someone’s drink), but when it comes to being assertive, don’t let an apologetic tone get in the way of what you want to say.

    Studies have found that women are more likely to begin statements or requests with apologies[2]. This is because they have a lower threshold than men for what they consider offensive. This means that women need to be more aware of their tendency to do this, but men should also catch themselves before apologizing when it’s unnecessary.

    6. Your Body Language Should Match Your Words 

    When was the last time you paid attention to your body language and facial expressions?

    If it’s been a while, then I suggest you keep a close eye on it in the next few days, particularly when it comes to talking to someone in person.

    To come across as confident and assertive, your body language needs to match your words. For assertive people, this means not slumping your shoulders and avoiding eye contact. Instead, it means standing tall and erect, and looking directly in the person’s eyes.

    This will serve two purposes. It will consciously and subconsciously impress the person and help them have faith in what you’re saying, and it will make you feel strong, assured, and confident.

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    You can check out this TED talk from Amy Cuddy to learn more about how body language shapes the way we feel and speak:

    The Bottom Line

    Learning how to be more assertive comes down to the simple tips above. However, knowledge is useless without action. So, next time you need to make a request of someone or say no in order to make room for time to achieve your goals, put one of the above tips into practice.

    Within a few weeks, you’ll notice you’ve become a stronger, more assertive, and more dynamic person. Furthermore, with these enhanced traits, you’ll find that reaching and exceeding your goals will become second nature to you.

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    Featured photo credit: Cytonn Photography via unsplash.com

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