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Published on June 4, 2018

How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful and Highly Fulfilling Life

How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful and Highly Fulfilling Life

Change begins with hope of what’s possible in your life. Hope leads to a sense of expectancy. Combine this with setting short term goals and the likelihood of being more happy and successful moves from possibility to reality.

Short term goals, when created with well-formed criteria, offer incremental steps towards successfully achieving your bigger goals. In this step-by-step guide, you’ll discover the secret to creating short term goals that will set you up for success and help you sail past challenges of staying motivated easily.

What is a short-term goal?

Short term goals are ‘short’, meaning the time frame can be as short as 10 minutes, a day or as long as a week or a few months. Well-formed short term goals begin with the end in mind.

Quick tip to start: Write down the specific result you’ll be achieving and the date when it will happen. Then work backwards from this date describing what you’ll notice yourself doing (and achieving) until you have the first step you’ll take.

A short-term goal is the smallest step needed for you to reach a bigger goal centered around achieving something you passionately desire.

‘Passionate desire’ is the key. As Tony Robbins says,

People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.

Having passion when setting goals means getting your mind and body activated to fuel your energy and focus. Each time you achieve a short term goal, your body celebrates by producing and releasing chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin oxytocin and/or endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters).

Ian Robertson, cognitive neuroscientist says,

Success and failure shape us more powerfully than genetics and drugs.

The regular release of the body’s natural chemicals supports brain change at a neural level, building your confidence and renewing your goal-oriented focus.

How short term goals make your life more fulfilling

Regardless of the area in your life that you set short term goals, the good news is this will have a ripple effect across all your life domains:

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  • Improve your career prospects and your sense of identity also shifts.
  • Improve your body shape through managing food intake and your energy improves in a way that’s noticeable at work and home.
  • Improve your mindset and your attitude changes around how you engage with others.
  • Improve your personal health and your desire for self improvement lifts.

How short term goals advance your career

Specifically, you will need short term goals to help with your career. This is also how many people want to utilize short term goals.

Start by planning your career visually

Walt Disney was sacked for lacking imagination. Oprah Winfrey was told she’d never make it in television. Careers are destroyed by naysayers intent on keeping you small. The successful person designs a career goal and then creates incremental steps to ‘ladder up’ with short term goals.

Justin Dry from VinoMofo, a successful Australian wine distribution company, always begins his goal setting process with visual planning. He says,

I need to see it all in front of me like a puzzle I’m putting together. It kind of looks like the workings of a madman with lots of weird and wonderful shapes and lines connecting the words.

Whether you use masses of post-it notes that cover a wall, large sheets of paper to spread your ideas on or a journal to map your path – messy planning gets your ideas out of your head so you see different possibilities and pathways available to you.

Begin this process by asking, “What are my best hopes for my career?” Write them down and place them somewhere you’ll notice them every day.

Make you think like a start-up entrepreneur

While successful career planning starts with a messy and random process to let those ‘idea gems’ – the embryos of well-formed short term goals rise, the next step is taking these nuggets and using them to set your direction.

Think of yourself (and your career) as if you’re the CEO of your own successful start-up – one with a clear vision of what you want and how you’ll get it. Rather than waiting for a boss to give you goals, be proactive and set your own.

Karen Lawson, CEO of Slingshot says,

Set a vision, and be focused on the intent of these goals. Create actions which not only build on those of yesterday, but improve what you do tomorrow. Your pathways will need to be flexible, challenged and accountable.

Begin by listing the bigger steps needed to achieve your goal. Then chunk these down into smaller steps with specific actions needed to achieve them. These action steps are the work horses of your short term goals. Create a specific time frame to complete them and maintain accountability – as if you’re reporting to your ‘higher up’.

Begin this process by asking yourself: “What difference will I notice when I take these steps?” Then ask: “What difference will my boss/es notice when I take these steps?”

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Establish ‘triggers’ for your daily habits

Twyla Tharp (born 1941) legendary dancer and choreographer, maintains an exacting routine designed to trick her mind into a daily exercise habit.

I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I workout for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.

It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it — makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about. (The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp)

To do this list, create a trigger point – the smallest step you’ll do that will catapult you into taking action like Twyla Tharp did. What will be your ritual of ‘getting in the cab’?

Get you to talk about the future

Melanie Perkins CEO of Canva, a thriving design and publishing solution, is known for ‘frequently talking about the future’.

Orienting your thoughts towards a future-focus reinforces how important your vision and goals are to you. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “You are what you think.”

  • Make it a habit to read your goals daily.
  • Think about what you’ll notice that will be different in your life when you achieve them.
  • Express your goals to someone important in your life.
  • Whisper them to yourself throughout your day.

Future-focused conversations (both with yourself and others) establish a pattern of expectancy which continue fueling not only your desire, but an expectancy of achieving it.

Manage mental resistance

When you begin with ‘hope’, you activate a sense of ‘expectancy’. A belief that what you want is not only possible, it’s within reach. Hope and expectancy are two powerful motivators in propelling you forward to a successful life. When you’re ‘moving forward‘ with hope, you’re orienting yourself towards a desired future. When ‘moving away from‘ something you perceive as painful you’re activating ‘fear’, which can also be a strong motivator helping you avoid pain; for example, losing your job if your quarterly performance scores don’t improve.

Sarah, a manager at a busy merchandising company saw her doctor because she was feeling tired. After a thorough examination the doctor advised Sarah to lose 15 kilos as this was contributing to her tiredness. The news felt overwhelming as Sarah worked long hours and rarely found time to shop for fresh food, so relied on fast food to keep her going.

For Sarah, the doctor activated her fear by describing what could happen (heart attack and/or diabetes) if she didn’t manage her weight by shedding 15 kilos.

While ‘moving away from’ motivation can be successful, a way of amplifying positive motivators that will see Sarah begin ‘moving towards’ her goal is by talking about what outcomes Sarah would notice by losing 15 kilos. For example, managing her weight may see Sarah being more efficient at work, getting out more socially or feeling more able to manage work pressures and deadlines.

To do this with your own goal setting, think about what’s important to you about achieving your goals. Write down your answers. Ask: “What will you notice that will be different in your life when these changes happen?”

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6 Easy steps to success with short term goals

Setting short terms goals will lead you closer to a happier and more successful life, but how to achieve that? Take the following steps and you will start achieving your dreams:[1]

Step 1: Defining your best hopes

Try this process yourself by thinking of an area of your life you’d like to improve.

For example:

  • What are your best hopes for your finances?
  • What are your best hopes for your relationship?
  • What are your best hopes for your career?
  • What are your best hopes for your health?

This process involves ‘chunking up’ your ideas so you relate to the outcome. In this process, you go on to achieve not only the goal and the outcome it gives you, but also the transformation of your behavior and mindset that will happen as a result of achieving your goal.

Step 2: Noticing what’s different

The next question to ask yourself is: “What would you notice that was different from the way you usually did things?”

‘Noticing’ helps you build a vision of what could be possible. The richer the description you can build around the tiny details, the more ‘real’ your preferred future becomes.

Step 3: Continue asking: ‘What else?’

Most of us know there’s a hidden reason or a long-buried hope beneath why we want something.

Often times, our ego gets a little defensive about it and protective of it; yet if we dig and resurface a truth, then a weight can be lifted, allowing you a freedom to move forward.

Step 4: Ask: ‘Who else will notice the difference?’

Relationships with family, friends, colleagues and a partner are important. Seeing the change they’ll notice helps put a third person perspective on the differences they notice about the changes they see in you.

Imagine what they will notice about you that would let them know you are somehow different as a result of achieving this goal.

Step 5: Imagine a miracle happened tonight

Imagine that if you went to bed tonight and a miracle happened; and you were the very best version of yourself and that you had achieved your best hopes.

When you woke up tomorrow morning after the miracle happened, what would you notice that would tell you you’ve achieved the change you’re seeking?

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Step 6: Describe your day as if the miracle had happened

Go through your day, moment by moment. Begin with what time you’d wake and then describe the differences you’d notice in every tiny action you do. Notice in detail what’s different about this day – a day when you are at your very best because you’re living your best hopes.

4 Proven tools to track your short term goal success

When you set a short term goal, establish a measurement system to track your progress:[2]

1. Create a running tally

One of the best devices to keep your short term goal setting on track is to keep a running record or tally of the number of days in a row that you’ve sustained your goal.

For example, if improving your health is important to you and you plan to reduce your weight by 5 kilos by not eating any foods containing sugar, then set up a simple chart and track how many days in a row you can do this. Aim for 5 days, then 10, then 20 days in a row. If you have a small diversion and eat sugar one day, simply start again.

Once you feel confident that you can continue with this step, add another such as taking 5,000 steps per day. Again, set up a simple tally chart either in your diary or somewhere visible and enjoy marking up one more day that you’ve achieved your short term goal. It won’t be long before your goal of losing 5 kilos is met.

2. Keep a journal

Maintaining a journal will help you focus on identifying the things you’re noticing that are different because you’ve set a well-formed short term goal.

Aim to complete the journal at the end of each day and recall in detail the things that you’re noticing. This helps keep you connected with your desired outcome and the transformation you’re experiencing in both your behavior and mindset.

3. Share your progress with a trusted friend or coach

By voicing the change and expressing how far you’re noticing yourself move towards your goal, you’re reinforcing the power of change you’re experiencing. And you’ll be activating the feel-good neurotransmitters that are so important for bringing your confidence, motivation and positive changes to your brain to succeed.

4. Visualize your progress

Before you go to sleep in the evening, visualize your tomorrow. See yourself continuing to do the things that support your change. Walk yourself through the tiny details that add up to the changes you want to see yourself doing including the time you’ll wake up. In the morning, re-activate the visualization and then ‘step into’ your day.

Summing it up

Change is possible. Short term goals that build upon each other are the stepping stones to achieving your best hopes.

Using your creative imagination by noticing the small differences occurring daily offers a positive way to create practical change in an easy and doable way.

Above all, make sure your goal is powered by ‘passionate desire’ so you achieve your desired outcomes.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Barbara Grace

Barbara Grace is the Director of the School of Modern Psychology. Barbara believes that to thrive in today's world you need smart thinking, strong motivation and a driving desire to live a more purposeful life. Take the Quiz & discover if your thinking is helping or hindering you be all you can. www.schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au

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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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