All of us have failed to achieve a goal at some point. In spite of our best intentions, circumstances and a lack of motivation can keep us from following through. Even the most dedicated goal setters occasionally question whether they are taking the right steps to lead a fulfilling life.
When life becomes complicated, our dreams and goals sometimes take a back seat. Over time, we can lose sight of our passion altogether. It is possible to achieve our goals if we remember that goals and dreams are not necessarily the same things.
Dreams are imaginary. Goals are based in reality. They’re different.
One of the biggest misconceptions about goal setting is that your desire to achieve is enough. As Les Brown stated,
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”
Wanting to lose weight, write a book, save for retirement, or start your own business are dreams. Adopting good goal setting strategies can turn your dreams into goals and your goals into reality. All goals start with that dream or desire, but when you engage in goal setting, you devise actionable steps for getting what you want. Having a dream without setting goals is like setting out on a cross-country trip without a map.
Achieving your goals isn’t always going to be pretty. Be ready to face the challenges.
When you see the successful people of the world – the Olympic athletes, innovators, entrepreneurs, and bestselling authors, you only see the results of their efforts. Since we can’t see their struggle, it can give us the false impression that their success materialized with little effort on their part.
It can be easy and motivating to visualize your goals coming to life. You can picture yourself in that swimsuit after you lose weight, or you can imagine your book on a shelf in the bookstore. What you may not think about, but what you must anticipate, is that achieving your goals isn’t always going to be pretty.
You will experience circumstances that test your resolve. If you aren’t willing to make sacrifices or stick with your goals through the tough times, then it will be hard to succeed. You have to be prepared to face challenges to achieve your goals.
To realize your goals, you’ll have to make a good plan.
About 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on them by February. The statistics on resolutions show that many of us have excellent intentions, but we have trouble following through.
Take the following steps to begin the goal setting process:
State your vision and write it down.
Some people use special planners, others make vision boards or write their goals on a sheet of paper. No matter what medium you choose, you’ll be more likely to succeed if you write your goal setting steps and include solutions to challenges. If you start to lose focus, you can refer back to these documents for inspiration and motivation. The key is to be specific about what you want.
Anticipate obstacles In The First Place.
If the path to success was easy, there wouldn’t be so many failed resolutions. Complacency, negative self-talk, unfocused efforts, and fear of failure can derail goal setting. Factors such as your personal life, professional responsibilities, and financial concerns can also disrupt your plans. If you can foresee areas of difficulty, you can proactively plan to address them without losing your motivation.
- You know that you want to write your book, but you also have to work a full-time job to pay your bills. Some of your biggest obstacles are time and money. Write down concrete steps that you will take to find the time and money to devote to writing.
- I will wake up one hour before I have to get ready for work to make time to write.
- I will hold myself accountable to writing 500 words per day, even if that means that I have to stay up late to meet this goal.
- I will cut back on unnecessary expenses and save X amount of money per week so that I can reduce the hours I spend at work and devote more time to writing.
- Establish accountability. Sharing your goal on social media, participating in an online challenge, or telling your best friend about your intentions can help you navigate difficult times. You may even be able to work with others with goals similar to your own. By scheduling regular meetings to check in with them, you can stay on the right track. Your accountability buddy can also be the person you call when you feel like giving up.
3. Put Your Goal in Scope: Set SMART Goals
SMART Goals are:
- S – Specific. It isn’t enough to say you want to lose weight. Why do you want to shed those pounds? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to visualize your goals and anticipate setbacks.
- M – Measurable. Goals have actionable steps that you can measure. How many pounds do you want to lose? What will success look like for you? Measurable goals can be broken into smaller benchmarks that you can use to keep yourself on track.
- A – Achievable. Your dreams can be as big as you want them to be, but your goals should be things that you can accomplish. Perhaps you want to lose weight, but is it safe or feasible to lose 50 pounds in a month? Think about what it is going to take to get what you want, and decide if these are things that you are willing to do. Coming up with reasonable and achievable steps during the goal setting process will keep you from giving up out of frustration.
- R – Relevant. Your goal should be something that you truly want to do. Are you applying to medical school because you have a genuine desire to help people, or are you applying because your parents want to have a doctor in the family? The best goals are determined by what motivates you, and not what others think should motivate you.
- T – Time-bound. With no deadline, you can take your dreams to your grave. What steps can you take right now? Where can you expect to be in 3 months, 6 months, and one year?
Example on a Complete Passionate Goal Setting
- Saying that you want to write a novel isn’t going to make one appear. Use positive statements and direct language. The top of your goal setting page might say, “I will write a book,” or “I am a writer.” The rest of your page might say something like, “By the end of this month, I will read one book on the craft of writing. By [insert date here], I will complete an outline for my novel. During [insert time frame here], I will research information about editing best practices.” “When I experience self-doubt, I will read a chapter from Stephen King’s On Writing.” The more details and deadlines that you give yourself, the better you’ll be able to check your progress.
You can do this! Goal setting helps you keep moving forward at any time.
If you are able to establish SMART goals and you are willing to make sacrifices to achieve your them, you are on the right track to making your dream a reality. Know that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and slip up from time to time. Goal setting isn’t just about visualizing the perfect outcome. It is also about planning for the times when things aren’t so perfect and developing strategies to keep moving forward.
|US News and World Report: Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail
|Statistics Brain: New Year’s Resolution Statistics
|Murielle Marie: 7 Best Planners to Achieve Your Goals in 2017
|Huffington Post: The Reason Vision Boards Work and How to Make One
|The Peak Performance Center: 10 Steps of Goal Setting
|Lead to Impact: Ten Obstacles to Why People Don’t Achieve Their Goals
|Mind Tools: SMART goals: How to make your goals achievable
|Forbes: 7 Secrets of People Who Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions