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Keep These 8 Tips In Mind If You Want To Achieve Anything In Life

Keep These 8 Tips In Mind If You Want To Achieve Anything In Life

Ever had this passion, this burning desire to achieve something unique and specific? You think about it when you go to school, when you leave for work, even when you take your dog out for the daily walk, it’s there in your mind, thumping on your thoughts like a bag thumping against your back whenever you move. You most probably had, we all did, and we all still do. A dream is one way to call it.

Yet, how very few of us act on these compulsions? And of those who do, how many truly commit to it, in good and in bad, only to achieve their ever desirable goal? You probably guessed it, few to none. But you will be surprised to hear that this amazing achievement is not too far out of reach, no matter how far and difficult it may seem all the way from the starting line. It’s all in the mind, you could say, and here are a few important tips that should guide you through this difficult seeming path:

1. Commitment is key

You’re at work, cleaning those dishes, submitting your daily paperwork, or have been staring at the computer screen for over two hours, and then, without a moment’s notice, this amazingly original book idea pops to your mind. You write it down on a small note and put it in your pocket. Now you can’t wait for the work day to end, you are motivated beyond all comparison. This will be your big break, the one you have been dreaming on for so long.

You arrive back home, drink your coffee, eat your meal, and take a warm shower. You get to your room and stare blankly at your computer’s desk. Nothing. The moment is gone, along with your idea and all of your vast talent. You beat yourself down and blame the long working hours for this misfortune.

Well, this is a wrong way to look at it. Although important, you cannot count solely on motivation if you want to achieve your desirable goal. What you need is commitment. Commitment to sit down on that desk, despite your lack of mental energy. To wear those jogging shoes, although you feel numb and tired after your daily nap. There can be hundreds of examples, but truly, all you need is to buckle up and get to work.

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2. It’s all about the journey

You can’t expect to have a smooth trail, a compass, and a big old X down on the map, leading you all the way up to the finish line. We all want to climb to the very top of the mountain but instead decide on going around it, despairing when realizing that there’s no lift or an unseen shortcut. And to be honest, wouldn’t it be boring if it was that easy?

Instead of straining your eyes so to look at the far ahead destination, look around you, and you may just find that the adventure is not half bad by itself. Learn, experience, improve, and to put simply: stay in the moment. Before you know it, you will be halfway there.

3. A positive mind, a positive result

This one goes without saying right? “Stay positive,” we hear it from everyone. Whether we are tired, anxious, or plainly just having a bad day. Well, surprise, surprise, there’s a reason for it. Positive thoughts will serve as the fuel to your adventure. They will keep you wanting to experiment, to experience, and will push you out of the box, and help you perform better with your work.

Doubts, on the other hand, won’t help you achieve a thing, and if at all, may hinder your performance or plainly push you from your rightful course.

If you want to achieve your goals, just “stay positive”.

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4. Don’t make it easy on yourself

We all sometimes hate leaving the every familiar comfort zone. It is our domain, our realm, and we know each and every sharp turn, and jump above every obstacle with relative ease. But you can’t expect to achieve what you don’t have by staying where you are.

Don’t let fear keep you down. Get out, challenge yourself even on the risk of failing. We learn best from failing, and so very little from succeeding. That is why achieving your dream is a long journey in the first place. Didn’t manage to jump above that pole? Don’t throw the gloves down and walk away, put it back up and try again!

5. Distractions are the enemy

You sit down next to the computer screen, ready to write your best-selling novel, feeling strong and motivated. You manage to get a sentence in there until, suddenly, you feel your phone vibrating in your pocket. You don’t know who it is, and it might be important right? Could be that girl you’ve been texting with for a while now. You take it out and give it a shallow stare. Just a quick look, just a small break maybe.

Next thing you know, you’ve not only engaged in a long, meaningful conversation, now you’ve started talking with more friends, and even took the liberty to start watching these funny youtube videos that you’ve been getting. An hour and a half passes, you take a deep breath, and finally, decide to put the phone down and get to work. You look at the screen, and nothing, you are all worn out.

Bottom line. Want to achieve your goals? Avoid distractions as best as you possibly can.

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6. Look and plan ahead

Until now, you’ve been working unstably. When out and unavailable, you suddenly feel extremely positive and motivated, and when at home, numb and tired. Little are the times that you feel motivated while actually being physically available. That is why you need to plan your schedule ahead. You know that you feel best at the mornings? Then make a clear window in your schedule, and let it be the first step to achieving your dreams.

Not available in the mornings for some reason? Well, at least clear some time during evening time, and try to dedicate at least two mornings for your own goals.

7. Take advantage of every situation

Let’s face it. We cannot possibly clear our schedules completely and dedicate every minute solely for achieving our goals. We have our school studies, work, volunteer works and a hundred of other things in our life. But we can make the best of every situation.

Filling paperwork at the office? Take this time to reflect on your ideas, observe the other workers, something might pop to your mind any second now. Inspiring to be an athlete? Eat well and avoid the junk food during the long work hours, squat, and do push-ups whenever you get a free window.

No excuses, take action anywhere you can.

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8. Achieve, but beware of wearing yourself down

Bearing all other tips in mind, this one is probably one of the more important of them. If you feel tired and weak, always give yourself a breathing windows and take a break. Don’t burn out your mind, body, and try to claw your way to the summit. Many people do that mistake, straining themselves, confusing it for dedication.

Pushing yourself over the edge won’t bear any fruit, and if anything, will just hinder your progress. You can’t beat a dead horse and expect it to move, so to speak.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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