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This Is What Will Happen When You Set Ambitious And Realistic Goals

This Is What Will Happen When You Set Ambitious And Realistic Goals

What’s the secret to success?

Well, if you’re looking for a shortcut, you’re out of luck, because nothing beats hard work and dedication. But there is one strategy that just about every high achiever has in common: they have mastered the art of setting and achieving goals on a continual basis.

It’s a skill that you would do well to learn, too, because mapping your course to success can pay immediate dividends. In particular, here is what will happen when you set ambitious and realistic goals …

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1. You’ll Become More Focused.

When you establish clear goals and review them on a regular basis, they become a very real part of your day. Having a defined target allows you to just work toward that endpoint without the nagging doubts that can plague you when you aren’t sure where you are headed.

It may take some practice, but you will eventually be able to zone in on your goal when you need to. Don’t be surprised if you look up from your work one day to find several hours have passed since you last took a break.

2. You’ll Get More Done.

When you turn that kind of laser focus to tasks that you know will lead to your ultimate success, you can’t help but get more done than you would if you’re watching the clock all day long. One day will flow into the next, and your goals will start to fall at a faster and faster pace.

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Soon, what may have seemed like an unscalable summit will be in your rear view and you’ll be ready for something even more ambitious.

3. You’ll Know What to Do Next.

Maybe the most powerful immediate benefit of strong goals is that they remove doubt from your day. By starting with a target that you know is attainable, you also establish a clear path for how to get there. You also learn more about yourself and how to plan your course, so by the time you’re ready for something more lofty, you will also have a great idea of what steps will be required to get to that next level.

4. You’ll Be More Confident.

Nothing breeds confidence like knowing that you can knock down whatever targets you set for yourself. After you reach a few progressively more ambitious goals, you will feel more sure about tackling whatever obstacles lie ahead of you.

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5. You’ll Have People Asking for Advice.

People who succeed to almost any extent in any endeavor become instant role models for those trying to climb the same mountains. As you begin to achieve even modest success in meeting your goals, especially ones that are visible in your business and social circles, you can expect others to ask you how did it. You may not feel like an expert early on, but your accomplishments will make your advice valuable.

6. You’ll Wake Up with Energy.

Working toward a goal that is important to you is one of the most energizing experiences you can have. You will find that fresh ideas pop into your head all throughout the day, and you will be eager to apply those to the work you’re doing. Likewise, you will wake up ready to dig back in to your game plan for success, and that dread of workday mornings will start to fade.

7. You Won’t Want to Go to Bed.

Once you become really involved in the process of goal-setting and achievement, you might find it hard to “turn off” at the end of each day. Your enthusiasm will keep you bubbling along even as bedtime approaches, and you might discover that late night is a productive time for you. Just be careful not to lose too much sleep in the pursuit of success.

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8. You’ll Be Nicer.

If you’re uncertain about your future and feel like you’re just going through the motions of life, you’re likely to be cranky and short with those around you. Once you start achieving the goals you have set for yourself, you will be more optimistic about the future and less likely to lash out at others due to your own frustrations. There are plenty of successful people who are direct and even abrasive at times, but not many who are downright unpleasant.

9. You’ll Feel Less Stressed.

When you don’t have a clear direction, you always feel like you’re scrambling just to keep up with the avalanche of daily responsibilities that only seems to grow over time. Setting and meeting your goals will give you an anchor point for the future, with built-in checkpoints to let you know that you are indeed on track. As a result, you can work through your obstacles with more confidence that you are making progress and with less stress about the eventual outcome.

10. You’ll Set More Goals.

When it comes to success, there is never a final destination but just one long, evolving journey. Goals help you move forward and head toward the type of life that you envision having, but that vision will change and expand with each milestone that you pass. Once you achieve one goal, you’ll be hungry for more, and goal-setting will become a vital part of your life.

11. You’ll Be Successful.

Almost by definition, establishing ambitious but attainable goals will set you up for success. The first time you hit one of those targets, you will have succeeded, but more important than that, you will prove to yourself that you can succeed. If you push forward after that first blush of achievement, all of the factors on this list will begin to snowball and allow you to build momentum that can carry over to all aspects of your life.

Featured photo credit: Doha Stadium Plus via flickr.com

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Adam Hughes

IT Director

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

Overwhelmed with work, family responsibilities, financial challenges and health issues are common culprits which catalyze stress and anxiety symptoms that show up differently in each and every one of us.

Whilst many of us are becoming much better at identifying what can trigger us to feel these, we’re not always that great at recognizing our individual thresholds; we don’t know exactly how to calm down when the mental, emotional storms erupt.

We can almost see you eye-rolling upon hearing commonly recommended stress antidotes such as taking a bath, lighting candles or going for a walk. Let’s face it. These simply aren’t practical things you can do when you’re on a red-eye flight at 5:30am to run a full day of training interstate and then fly back the same evening not to mention juggling a young family.

You want to know your triggers, predict the impact of them and have your own suite of tools up your sleeve to calm down that impact for the long-term.

Doing a little ground work to gain a strong self-awareness of your likely reactions puts you smack bang in the pilot seat to develop a robust mental and emotional toolkit that will work wonders for you.

A few simple but well-practiced techniques may be all you need to simmer down the cyclonic intensity of emotions, and disparaging thoughts pecking away at your self-esteem and confidence. However, it’s important you do this self-reflective groundwork first to gain maximum impact for long-term effect.

1. Strengthen Familiarity with What Triggers You

When you have arguments with your loved one, do you stop and look to see if there are certain things you fight about? Are there certain behaviors they display that drive you bananas?

Take your focus off them and ask yourself: “What is my usual response?”

Perhaps you feel the anger welling up inside your chest and you then spurt out that you’ve told him or her ten times before to not leave their underwear lying across the bedroom floor.

Think a little deeper. Ask yourself what values, standards and expectations you have that are not being met here. You’ll likely be attached to certain ways you believe things should play out. Are there assumptions and expectations as to how you believe people should conduct themselves and principles about how you feel you should be treated?

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Having a strong attachment to these for yourself is one thing. Expecting others to have the same attachment is often what can make the hot water start simmering.

It is often when people behave in ways inconsistent with our belief systems and events unfold in discord with what we expect and are prepared for that we feel the most stress and anxiety.

Make a list of the common circumstances in different areas of your life that cause you to become anxious and stressed. Against each of these, describe your stress response:

What happens? What do you feel?

Now think about the values, principles and expectations you have attached to these. You’ll see you have a few options:

  • Change my values and expectations
  • Try to change other’s values and expectations
  • Recognize and be in allowance of others having different values, standards and expectations

Reviewing how you react when you’re stressed and anxious, and identifying which of these three options above is going to best serve you, can greatly increase your ability to feel and be in control of calming your reaction.

You move closer to being able to choose how you want to respond as opposed to feeling helpless and the world is spiralling out of control.

2. Have Coping Statements on Hand

When you have a washing machine of chaotic thoughts churning in your mind, trying to implant thoughts that are the complete opposite of what you’re thinking and feeling can be pretty hard.

Not being able to do it can also add another layer of us feeling disappointment in ourselves. We feel we’re failing.

Having coping statements that you can literally latch on to to help you calm down in those stressful and anxious moments, can be particularly helpful.

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Look at creating palm cards and just have three to five of these you can have in your pocket or in your purse. Here are 6 examples:

  • Even though I am feeling this right now, I am going to be alright
  • What I am feeling right now is uncomfortable. I won’t feel this way forever. Soon the intensity of what I am feeling will pass.
  • I’ve survived these feelings before. I can do it again.
  • I feel this way because of my past experiences but right now, I am actually safe.
  • It’s ok for me to feel this way. My body and brain are trying to protect me but I am actually safe right now.
  • Ah, here you are again, anxiety. Thanks for showing up to protect me, but I don’t need you right now.

Choose words and dialogue that feel true and accurate for you. Read the statements out to yourself and test how fitting they are for you. What feels more assuring, calming and right for you?

Make these statements your own. The aim is of these statements is to de-escalate the intensity of what you feel when you’re anxious and stressed.

Remember, you want to refrain from having blunt statements which feel or sound like they’re self-reprimanding because they won’t be pacifying in a positive way.

If you are unsure as to how to come up with statements that fit for you, look to work with a psychologist or licensed therapist to give you a strong start.

3. Identify and Develop Physical Anchors

You actually have within you resources to provide some of the most effective ways to calm yourself down in heightened moments you feel stressed and anxious. Renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Peter Levine and expert in treating stress and trauma, teaches us how techniques which do this, such as Somatic Experiencing®[1] can significantly help us calm down.

By learning to be fully present and applying touch to certain areas of your body (e.g. forehead and heart space), you increase your capacity to self-regulate. You also learn how to attend to and release your unique symptoms that your body has been containing in a way you have not been able to before.

Here’s one technique example:

  1. Get in a comfortable position
  2. Have your eyes open or closed, whatever feels most comfortable for you
  3. Now place one hand on your forehead, palm side flat against the skin
  4. Place the other hand, palm down across your heart space above your sternum… the flat of your chest area.
  5. Gently turn your attention to what you feel physically in the area between your two hands. Observe and just take notice of what you physically feel. Is your chest pounding? How strong are its beat and the rhythm? Do you notice any other sensations anywhere else between your two hands?
  6. Don’t try to push or resist what you’re feeling. Try to just sit with it and remain this way with your hands in place until you feel a shift, a physical one. It might take a little longer, so try to be patient.

You might feel a change in energy flow, a change in temperature or different, less intense sensations. Just keep your hands in place until you feel some kind of shift, even if gradual.

It might take you even 5 to 10 minutes but, riding this wave will help you to process what discomfort your body is containing. It will greatly help to release it so you gradually become calmer.

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Purely cognitive exercises can be tough at the outset. Learning somatic experience techniques is particularly helpful because you’re engaging in exercises where you physically can feel the difference. Feeling the changes helps you increase confidence you can control and reduce the discomfort you’re feeling. You’ll be motivated to keep practicing and improving this skill you can take anywhere, anytime.

4. Move and Get Physical

If you’re not one to exercise, you’re robbing yourself of some very easy ways which help you calm down and reduce stress and anxiety responses. Many neuro chemical changes take place when you engage in exercise.

At certain levels of physical exertion, your brain’s pituitary gland releases neurotransmitter endorphins. When they bind with certain opiate receptors in your brain, signals are transmuted throughout your nervous system to reduce feelings of pain and trigger feelings of euphoria. You might have heard the term ‘runner’s high’.

For the last 20 years, University of Missouri-Columbia’s Professor Richard Cox has conducted research showing that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective at reducing anxiety and stress levels than other forms of aerobic exercise.[2] However, if you would rather slay dragons than turn up an F45 class, it’s essential you still find something that will physically shift you and alter your current mental and emotional state of mind, even just a fraction to start with. It’s 100% ok if this is not your cup of tea.

So in a day full of back of back-to-back meetings, what can you do?

If you’re sitting, stand. Change your posture and open your body up. Have a suite of discrete stretches you can do regularly as you deepen and engage in diaphragmatic breathing.

If you’re looking down at your desk at work and feeling increasingly stressed, look up and change what you’re looking at. Give yourself more than a few moments to decompress.

The main thing is to change your disposition from the one you’re in when you are experiencing anxiety and stress symptoms. You’re shaking it up to calm it down.

5. Transform Your Unhelpful Inner Dialogue and Its Energy

Learning cognitive restructuring techniques can truly work wonders in helping you recognize and re-frame unhelpful dialogue and negative critical thinking patterns. This involves a little preparation being transparent with yourself about what exaggerated perspectives you might ascribe to what’s happening when you’re feeling stressed and anxious.

When you open your email inbox and see a flood of requests which require more time and energy you have for that day, dread starts to settle in and the following comes to mind: “This is impossible. How can they expect me to be able to do all this? It’s completely unreasonable!”

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Instantly, many other thoughts that reinforce this line of thinking as well as the emotional energy of your first conscious thought start unravelling. A 4-step process you can engage to calm the eruption is:

  1. Catch and notice that first thought you had. What was it? What did you think and/or say to yourself?
  2. Recognize that what you’re feeling and be in allowance of the initial intensity of whatever those emotions are.
  3. Breath deliberately a little more deeply and slowly for a few seconds.
  4. State to yourself: “Right now (in this moment) I’m feeling overwhelmed by this, however maybe I can look at what I can make good progress and headway with as a start from here on.”

Notice the language in step 4 is tentative, supportive, soft and not resistant nor defiant of what your original thought was. You accept your original thought, but gradually you become stronger at pivoting it.[3] You’re expanding your growth mindset language.

It’s definitely worth working with a coach or trained therapist to learn how to tailor re-framing statements which can truly help you calm down.

Final Thoughts

We know, in our minds what we should do. When we’re in the thick of experiencing mental and emotional turmoil, it’s actually harder to implement what we know. In those moments, you’re unlikely to have capacity to think about what you need to do, let alone do it effectively to help you feel calmer.

The key is to practice so that when the storm is brewing, your toolkit and supplies are in easy access. You already know your safety drill well.

Knowing you have strategies and prepared processes up your sleeves helps you not only become better at calming yourself in amongst currently stressful situations. You have more confidence now to face more anxiety-provoking stressors because you have developed the resources to handle it.

How you invest time and energy into getting to know your triggers and thresholds will influence how effective these strategies will work for you. We’re not denying relaxing baths or regular massages are helpful, however these band-aid-like solutions don’t really confront the root causes.

If you truly want to turn your experience of your stress and anxiety symptoms around, dig deeper, do the groundwork and that which rattled your cage will quickly become a thing of the past.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference

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