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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

To Reach Your Goals, Start With Planning For The Worst

To Reach Your Goals, Start With Planning For The Worst

To reach your goals you need determination, a positive attitude, and an absolute belief that you can achieve what you want. However, another important factor is to prepare for bumps in the road, obstacles and interruptions that could potentially crop up on your quest for achievement.

This may seem like a pessimistic mindset – after all, aren’t we meant to have an unwavering belief that we can attain what we want no matter what? Well actually it’s an important element in achieving success. We will undoubtedly come across challenges enough to make us wonder if we’re able to achieve our goal at all. But with a plan in place, these challenges can be fought and overcome much more easily making that road to success a much less bumpy one. Preparing for the worst can give us a sense of security and lessens the fears and anxieties that can naturally surface on the journey.

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80% Positive Energy, 20% Worry

Let’s face it, even the most ambitious of us still get niggling doubts of worry. When it comes to achieving our goals, fear manifested as worry is the number one blocker to many people even contemplating going after their dreams. When we enter the journey we feel vulnerable to failure and much of the time we are spending most of our precious energy on worrying.

By preparing for the worst, you can reach your goals much more smoothly and you can put more of your energy in having a positive attitude knowing that you’ve covered any eventualities and lessening the negative chatter in your head. By doing this you naturally create a smaller percentage of time thinking and fearing obstacles because you already have a plan in place.

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Misconceptions Around Preparing For The Worst

By their very nature, goals aren’t always easy and straight-forward to achieve. This is so strong that many don’t even try or just believe their goals are unattainable. Many also believe that preparing for the worst is some sort of excuse lurking in the back of the mind telling you that it can’t really happen. But actually it’s the opposite of that – it’s a very smart move.

Our happiness and emotional well-being is sometimes overlooked when we try to reach our goals. We focus on the end result adding to our happiness but the journey along the way shouldn’t compromise this. Preparing for eventualities can be thought of as a safety net for our emotional well-being. When we suffer setbacks and failures we are understandably brought down and it’s these instances that can stop us from carrying on altogether.

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When we prepare for the worst, we are actually clearing our worries and calming our emotions which, in the long run, will be greatly beneficial to accomplishing our goals.

How To Effectively Prepare For The Worst To Reach Your Goals

It’s all about planning ahead. Sometimes it can be hard to evaluate all eventualities but if you get the basics down you’re half way there. With any situation in life where we put ourselves out there, there is a chance we could fall. It’s the excitement of life but also creates fear in most of us.

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Whatever your dream or goal is, make time to sit and think about possible scenarios. Money, for example is a big factor when it comes to whether or not we even start going for our dreams. The worry of money, or lack of, is a big one. Say you’ve decided to give up your boring desk job to chase after your dream career. This could pose a big risk around money and even threatens to run out if it takes longer than expected. So put aside money any way you can and ask yourself questions like whether you would need to move to a cheaper place? If so, where could you potentially move to? Are there people you could move in with if you needed to? Could you get a loan from the bank? If so, look into different types of loans to see if any would suit you.

If you couldn’t reach your goal, what would you want to do instead? What alternatives are there that would equally make you happy? If you wanted to become a writer, could you go into teaching instead? Or maybe even go back to studying? Perhaps start your own business? Having options helps calm your mind and allow you to not fear difficult situations. It also gives you hope that if you don’t end up achieving your goal, other options are equally as good.

So remember, preparing for the worst will actually allow you to achieve your goals much more easily and eliminate bumps that, if unprepared for, could cause you to give up altogether.

I’ll leave you with a great quote by the late American author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar. “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalise on what comes.” In other words, don’t fear the obstacles – plan for them and make use of them when they come. That way, you will gain a sense of achievement either way.

More by this author

Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting To Reach Your Goals, Start With Planning For The Worst Why Setting Intrinsic Goals Can Make You Happier

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

As a track and field runner in school, every year I would sit down with my coach and set a series of goals for the season. Once we had set my goals for the year, we would create a training plan so I could achieve those targets. This helped me answer the main question here: “What are SMART goals?”

Before I got a coach, I used to run aimlessly with no plan, no target races. More often than not, I would end up injured and find my season ending after achieving very little.

Once I got a coach, though, I started winning races that mattered and began enjoying my sport. This annual process taught me from a very early age that goals are important if I want to achieve the things that are important to me.

So what exactly are SMART goals? This article will talk about why goals matter, how to use SMART goals effectively with your time and resources, and how these goals give you a clear, specific plan that works time and time again.

Why Do People Fail to Reach Their Goals?

Setting SMART goals and achieving them

is not easy, and many people fail. A study by Scranton University found that only 8% of those who set New Year goals actually achieve them, meaning 92% who set new year goals fail[1].

The problem is that many people see goals, such as New Year resolutions, as hopes and wishes. They hope they will lose some weight, they wish to start their own business, or they hope to get a better job. The problem with “hoping” and “wishing” for something is that there is no plan, no purpose, and no time frame set for achieving the goals.

Once these hopes and wishes come face-to-face with the realities of daily life, they soon dissolve into lost hopes and wishful thinking.

Therefore, in order to really achieve something, you need a concrete goal: a SMART goal.

What Are SMART Goals?

The foundation of all successfully accomplished goals is the SMART goal.

Originally conceived by George T. Doran in a 1981 paper[2], this formula has been used in various forms ever since.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. It has been used by corporations and individuals to achieve their goals and objectives and is a formula that, on the whole, works well.

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Use SMART goals to help you achieve more.

    The strength of SMART goals is that they set a clear path to achieving goals, and they have a clear time frame in which to achieve them. Let’s look at the SMART criteria in a little more detail:

    Specific

    For a goal to be achievable, it needs to have a very clear outcome. What you are asking is, “What exactly do I want to achieve?” The clearer the goal, the more likely it is you will achieve it.

    For example, if you just say “I want to lose weight,” then technically you could achieve your goal just by not eating dinner for one day—you would lose weight that way, even if it were temporary.

    You need to have a more specific goal: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

    Measurable

    To achieve anything, it’s important to have measurable goals. T

    ake the example above: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

    It’s measurable, as all you need do is weigh yourself on 1 January, then deduct twenty-pounds from that and set that weight as the target for 31 July. Then, each week you weigh yourself to measure progress.

    Attainable

    Being attainable means that SMART goals are realistic and that you have what you need in order to achieve them.

    In our example of losing weight, 20 pounds in six months is certainly doable. Your resources could include a gym membership, some at-home weights, or simply motivation to get outside and run everyday.

    If motivation is an area where you struggle, you can check out Lifehack’s Ultimate Worksheet for Instant Motivation Boost.

    Relevant

    For any goal to be achieved, you need to set relevant goals for your unique life.

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    If losing weight is doable with the lifestyle you have, and if you believe it will lead to a happier, healthier life, then it is certainly relevant to you. It’s even more relevant if your doctor has pointed out that you need to lose weight to prevent health issues.

    Time-based

    Finally, you need a timeline. All your goals need to have an end date because it creates a sense of urgency and gives you a deadline.

    In our example of losing twenty-pounds, a timeline of six months would be specific, measurable, relevant, and would have a timeline. Furthermore, as you have what you need to achieve that goal, it is attainable—all elements of the formula for SMART goals are included.

    How to Reach a SMART Goal

    The problem I have always found with the SMART goal formula is it does not take into account the human factor. We need motivation and a reason for achieving these goals.

    If you decide to lose twenty-pounds, for example, you are going to spend many months feeling hungry, and unless you possess superhuman mental strength, you are going to give in to the food temptations.

    All SMART goals can be distilled down to three words:

    • What do you want to achieve?
    • Why do you want to achieve it?
    • How are you going to achieve it?

    When you simplify your goal in this way, achieving it becomes much easier.

    1. Visualize What You Want

    One way to make your goals achievable is to visualize the end result. When you write out your mission statement, you should be imagining what it will be like once you have achieved the goal.

    In our weight loss example, you would close your eyes and imagine walking down from your hotel room in Ibiza in July with your towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, and swimwear on. You would imagine walking past all the other sunbathers and the feeling you have, the pride in the way you look and feel.

    Try to invoke as many of the five senses as you possibly can[3].

    2. Identify Your “Why”

    If you take losing twenty-pounds as an example, once you have made the decision that you want to do this, the next question to ask yourself is, “Why?” The more personal your why, the better.

    Your why could be, “Because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza this summer.” That is a strong why.

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    If your why is, “Because my doctor told me to lose some weight,” that is not a good why because it’s your doctor’s, not yours.

    One way to identify your “why” is to write your mission statement.

    To help with setting achievable SMART goals, when working with my clients, I always ask them to complete the following mission statement:

    I will [STATE GOAL CLEARLY] by [DATE YOU WANT TO COMPLETE THE GOAL] because [YOUR WHY].

    If you want to write a SMART goal for the weight loss example, your mission statement would be written: “I will lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza.”

    Never write a mission statement that is full of vague words. The words you use should be simple, direct, and clear.

    3. Figure out Your “How”

    Before you can begin achieving your goal, you need to create a list of steps you can take to make it happen.

    Write down everything you can think of that will help achieve your goal. It doesn’t matter what order you write these tasks down; what matters is that you write down as many action steps you can think of.

    I always aim for around one hundred small steps. This makes it much easier to assign tasks for each day that not only moves you forward on your goal, but also keeps you focused every day on achieving it.

    Once you have your list, you can create a to-do list for the goal and allocate the steps to different days so you create momentum towards a successful outcome.

    You can learn more about how to use SMART goals to achieve success and lasting change in this video:

    Bonus: Make a PACT

    There is one more part needed to really make sure you achieve the SMART goals you set for yourself, and that is something I call PACT. PACT is another acronym meaning Patience, Action, Consistency, and Time. You need all four of these to achieve goals.

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    Patience

    Without patience, you will give up. To achieve anything worthwhile requires patience. Success does not happen overnight. Be patient and enjoy the process of stepping a little closer towards achieving your goal each day.

    Action

    If you do not take action on any goal, then even SMART goals won’t be achieved. You need to make sure you remind yourself of your goal and why you want to achieve it each day. Read your mission statement, make an action plan, and then take the necessary action to make sure you move a step closer each day.

    Consistency

    The action you take each day towards achieving your goal needs to be consistent. You can’t follow your diet program for a week and then have three weeks off. Jim Rohn said it perfectly when he said:

    “Success is a few simple disciplines practised every day.”

    Time

    Of course, you need to allow enough time between where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Be realistic about time, and don’t get disheartened if you miss your deadline. Readjust your timeline if necessary.

    The Bottom Line

    The key to success is to put everything together. When you connect all of these elements, you create an environment where achieving SMART goals becomes much more attainable.

    Whether it’s personal or business goals, when you have a strong personal “why” for your goal, your motivation to keep going stays strong.

    Start with your “why,” and then get started on the action steps that will take you all the way to the end.

    More Tips on Reaching Your Goals

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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