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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

8 Steps to Achieve Your Three Big Goals This Year

8 Steps to Achieve Your Three Big Goals This Year

We’re coming to the end of the year, and most would take this time to review and plan their year ahead with new year resolutions.

Do you set goals? Do you reset your new year resolutions year after year without really progressing or achieving them? Do your new goals get forgotten along the way? According to a University of Scranton study, only 8% of those who set out to achieve their New Year’s goals actually achieve them.

Why Are We Not Achieving the Goals We Set?

Let’s not just talk about new year resolutions but also the goals that we set. Why are we not achieving the goals we set? Don’t we want these goals? From both research and personal experiences, I can boldly highlight three reasons:

1. We set too many goals all at once

When we set too many goals; e.g to travel more, to set up a business, to lose 10kg, to run a marathon, to be a great partner, parent or child, to get a promotion all at once, we are setting too many focus (and distractions) for ourselves and in turn, setting ourselves up for failure.

When that happens, we either tread water (no progress), take longer to reach where we want to go or we drop some of those goals that we could have achieved if we had spent more time and focus on that goal.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t have many goals. Over our lifetime, we’re bound to have goals and change goals at different stages of our lives. And the list may even grow longer over time, but what we need to focus now, is to pick one to three goals that really matter to us, that we really want to achieve and focus on right now.

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2. We don’t really want the goals we set

Have you ever set goals that you think it’d be nice to have? I have.

For many years, I had ‘practice meditation’ on my list, but I barely did it. In fact, over the last five years on my goals list, I have sat down and practised for less than five times. Each time I tried to meditate at home, I either fell asleep or hated the feeling. It just didn’t work for me. Meanwhile, I relish Yoga sessions so much that I would travel to get to the Yoga centre for that one hour of practice. Doing meditation is a means to practice consciousness and mindfulness which I can practice through other means.

As I looked back at my goals, I realised I didn’t really want some of the goals that I set for myself. We may have spent a lot of time and energy on these goals, but when we realise that we don’t really want them, these goals easily become a struggle. For instance, do you know why you want to chase that career goal, to climb up the corporate ladder, to travel more or to set up profitable businesses?

3. We set goals that are too vague or too difficult to achieve within a very short time frame

If you set mediocre goals, you will get mediocre results. If you set vague goals, you will get vague results. Be clear on what you want to achieve, with specific actions, non-negotiable schedule and set a due date that you cannot postpone.

Also, when we set goals, we want to cover as much action steps and timeline as we can and follow through. It’s great if what we complete goes accordingly to what we have planned. However, when we set goals that are too rigid, e.g to lose x kg every month without fail or to plot a progress so linear that it does not allow us to relax, take breaks or even change, sooner or later it will be a stressful burden to us.

8 Steps to Set Smart Goals and Achieve Them

With the ever-increasing uncertainties today, we all crave for certainties to some extent. Whether you set a goal to be healthy so that you won’t have to deal with hefty medical costs in future, or to set up a business so that you can live with more freedom and independence, setting and achieving our goals not only build us as individuals as we progress and grow but we also gain confidence and empowerment when we achieve our goals. When we achieve what we set out to be, we are more motivated to do more and be more, because we know we can.

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1. Write Your Goals Down

It seems simple and basic, but there are many who either sets no goals or those who set goals in their head. Over time, as we get busy and distracted, we tend to forget these goals that we set earlier on.

2. Pick 1 – 3 Goals that Really Matter to you

Pick goals that you really want to achieve, not what feels or looks nice to have, not what you should be achieving.

3. Know WHY you Want to Achieve these Goals

It should not be for anyone else but yourself. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want that promotion? What is your motivation in wanting to start that business?

4. Break these Few Important Goals down into Smaller Actions with a Specific Timeline

Have an action list for each goal with a set due date. And, break these actions further into really small baby steps. In fact, some coaches suggest that you break your goals into steps so simple that you can do it immediately.

5. Post your Goals and Actions Steps somewhere Visible

Making your goals, the whys and the actions steps visible not only reminds you of what you want to achieve, it also allows you to review and track your progress.

6. Act on Them

No actions = no progress. All the planning and brainstorming may feel like a productive and fulfilling exercise, but you won’t reach your goal with just planning. You have to take action.

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7. Track Your Progress

Make an appointment with yourself on a regular basis to review your progress. If you find weekly reviews too time-consuming, you can always do it monthly or quarterly.

Be conscious of how you set your due date. When we set goals for ourselves, we tend to be ambitious and want to achieve the most in the least amount of time. When we don’t see results, it is easy to give up. Set actions steps that are realistic, that you can do, pace yourself and do within your limits.

If you find yourself unable to progress because you lack some skills or experiences, go out there and get these knowledge, skills and experiences.

8. Get Feedback on Your Progress

Sometimes we may feel stuck even when we have taken a lot of actions. It helps to have support groups or people you trust who can provide you honest feedback, give you comments and motivate you to do better.

Be careful of who you share your motivation and feedback with, though. Stay way from naysayers or negative people who are always difficult. No amount of persuasion or justification will prove you right even if you are right.

Bottom Line

The above steps are really what many would tell you to do on SMART goal setting. i,e, set Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-based. But this also incorporates the SMARTER Goal Setting method to include Evaluation and Review as well.

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While we may be anxious to achieve our goals, we have to learn to be patient and be willing to try. Also be willing to fail. When you fail, don’t be quick to give up and say you are not cut out for it or you won’t be successful.

The most successful people don’t only depend on skills or talents or experiences, they also persevere a lot. That’s what separates people who achieve their goals and people who don’t.

Meanwhile, enjoy the journey and don’t forget to celebrate your milestones.

Featured photo credit: Pablo via pablo.buffer.com

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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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