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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

Why You Need to Set Future Goals (And How to Reach Them)

Why You Need to Set Future Goals (And How to Reach Them)

It’s very easy to go through life without ever having a worthwhile goal. It is very easy to avoid the challenge of setting goals and being accountable for achieving those goals.

But without any goals, your life will drift and lack any meaningful purpose. The worst thing that could happen to you is to reach your final days and look back at your life, and wonder how you screwed up the amazing opportunity you had to build an incredibly rewarding life.

In this article, we’ll look into the reasons why you should start setting future goals, and how to set ones that will help you lead a fulfilling life.

Why You Need to Set Future Goals

The Source of Happiness

Having meaningful goals gives your life a purpose. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning, get out of bed and live life with a direction.

Goals give you energy and vitality and something to aim for each day. Ultimately, your happiness will be enhanced when you begin to see you are making progress on your goals, and as each day passes and you move that little bit closer to achieving what you set out to achieve you gain more focus and energy to push that little bit more.

A Roadmap to Travel Down

But having goals is more than that. Goals give you a roadmap to travel down.

Your goals could be related to your career. Imagine you want to one day start your own business. An idea such as starting your own business begins as an image in your mind.

As you think more about your idea, you start to visualize what it would be like to be running your own business. No boss breathing down your neck watching what you are doing, no annoying colleagues interrupting you with their problems and complaining about how much work they have to do. Having the freedom to make your own decisions about what you will do and when.

As you visualize your idea, you begin to ask yourself: how? How will I start my own business? What do I have to do to start? These questions are the beginnings of a plan and a goal is simply a plan for the future.

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It does not have to be as professional as starting your own business. It could be wanting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro before your fiftieth birthday. Once again, it begins with an idea, you may have seen a documentary about Mount Kilimanjaro, or a friend did it a few years ago and tells you it was one of the best experiences she had ever had in her life.

Wherever the inspiration comes from, you begin to visualise yourself climbing to the top, exhausted but exhilarated having achieved something only a very few people manage to do in their lifetimes.

Once again the question: “how?” Jumps into your mind, and once again the beginnings of a plan begins to formulate. Another goal.

A Clear Intention to Live

When you think about it, our whole lives are centred around goals. Getting up for work on a cold, wet Monday morning requires the goal of getting out of bed at a specific time. Not a pleasant goal for many, but it’s a goal nonetheless. Getting home in time for dinner with your family is a goal.

Pretty much everything we want to do and achieve in our lives requires an intent to achieve something. That is what goals are. An intention to do something by a specific time.

How to Begin Developing Future Goals

1. Start with Your Vision

Begin with a vision of what you want to achieve. Whether it is a professional or personal goal, you need to have a clear vision of what it is you want to achieve.

You can get a little help from this article: The Best Way to Create a Vision For the Life You Want

Take some time to really see what the end result will be like. Close your eyes and see it, see yourself achieving your goal.

If you want to build a secure financial future for yourself and your family, what will that look like? Will that be cash in the bank or a portfolio of investments?

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If you want to take a holiday of a lifetime with your closest friends this summer, where will you go? What will you do? Imagine yourself already achieving your goal. How will you feel?

Feel those emotions in your imagination. Feel the smile on your face, feel the laughter, the joy and the excitement as you board the plane.

2. Ask the Right Questions

The best question to ask is: What do I have to do to…? This is an incredibly powerful question because it opens up your mind to the possibility of achieving your goal. The way this question is phrased means you are only considering ways to achieve, not ways you cannot achieve.

The wrong question to ask is “how can I achieve this goal?” That question often elicits the tempting answer “you can’t”. What you want to be doing is opening your mind up to possibilities and the actions you will have to take to make it happen.

Now the “what do I have to do?” Question often brings up actions you may at first feel are impossible, so you ask the question again.

For example, let’s say you want to build a secure future for you and your family, and your initial answer comes up with a figure of USD$1 million. Now if you are earning USD$50,000 a year, that means you will have to work at least forty years saving half your salary each month.

Let’s be honest here, that is not going to be easy and for forty years, probably impossible. So you will need to ask the question again. “What do I have to do to have USD1 Million in savings by the time I retire?” The answers you come up with from asking this question again will take you closer towards building your goal into achievable steps.

3. Look at Your Daily Habits

Our daily habits and behaviors are the driving force behind the results we achieve in our lives.

If you smoke twenty cigarettes every day, drink several glasses of wine each evening and go to bed slightly drunk, over time, this will have a profoundly negative effect on your health. If it does not send you to an early grave, you are almost certainly going to experience difficulties with your health at some point in time.

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Couple that with eating unhealthily and being excessively overweight, you are going to become a burden on your family and friends later in life.

Because our daily habits and behaviors have such a large impact on the results we achieve in our lives, you should take some time to analyze yours.

Identify the ones that give you negative results. Unhealthy eating, excessive drinking, smoking, complaining and gossiping are common ones, but others such as waking up at the last possible moment, going to bed late and spending all night playing computer games are a few others that, over time, will result in negative outcomes in your life.

If you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro before you turn fifty, then get yourself out in the evening and exercise. Turn it into a habit. Spend thirty minutes every morning reading about and researching Mount Kilimanjaro instead of checking your email, Facebook or Instagram feed. Use your time in more positive ways.

This guide can give you some nice advice on how to quit bad habits: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

4. Set a Date

If your goals do not have a timeline and an end date, you will find excuses to put off what you need to do to make it happen.

You can, of course, adjust your deadline if you find you were a little too ambitious with your initial enthusiasm. But you do need a deadline.

If your goal is to have USD $1 Million by the time you retire, your goal needs to be based on what you need to have saved by the end of the year. For most of us, retirement may be quite a few years away, but by beginning now, you will give yourself enough time to build up your savings and investments.

Likewise, if your goal is to run a full course marathon before you turn forty, then depending on how old you are today, you may want to set goals for running a 5KM, 10KM and half-marathon each year before you run the big one.

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Setting dates and deadlines gives you the sense of urgency you need to make progress. You do not have to achieve the ‘big goal’ in the first year, but you do need to have an annual goal that is taking you a little closer each day, month and year toward the big, future goal.

5. Visualize and Review Regularly

Whatever your future goals are, you should have some form of vision board to keep you reminded of your final destination.

Whether that is having a secure financial future, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or running a full course marathon, having some form of vision board — either digital in the form of a photo album in your digital photo storage, or a board on Pinterest or a physical board in your room with photographs and clippings of what you want to do — will help keep you motivated when you feel ‘not in the mood’.

It will give you something visual to help you review your progress and adjust deadlines if necessary.

Final Thoughts

We are all different and we all want different things in our lives. Many of us want to build a successful business, others want to develop a successful career in medicine or law.

Whatever it is you want out of life, it is your life and it is up to you to create it. You have the good fortune to be able to decide, act and achieve and it all starts with an idea and a vision, then a few questions the answers to which will give you a plan and a destination to travel towards.

Don’t waste this chance. You do not want to end your days full of regret and disappointment. You want to end your days knowing you lived an extraordinary life on your terms.

More Tips About Setting & Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Evan Kirby via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Published on October 19, 2020

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

As a performance coach and expert in the psychology of productivity for over 25 years, I have used every tool in the book to teach people how to achieve their goals by breaking through their barriers, getting out of their heads, and getting into their productive flow.

Here are my favorite tools and techniques to keep you on the path towards achieving your goals and dreams.

1. Accountability

Your word is your wand. It’s the source of your power. What you say, what you commit to, and what you follow through on creates confidence in your own ability to create what you want in the world.

However, every time you go back on what you said you were going to do, it weakens your inner power. Your subconscious mind keeps track of what you promise. It records each time you don’t follow through with your commitments and unconsciously reduces your power to create. Keep your word and keep your power!

2. Time Excuse Diet

The fastest way to achieve your goals is to stop using time as an excuse for why you’re not getting things done. Stop seeing time as your enemy, and start seeing time as your most valuable ally. Picture yourself as the source of time, and decide where you want to use it and where not to.

3. Gratitude

The attitude of gratitude changes everything. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we connect to the most important things in our life, which floods our system with positive chemicals and releases joy, euphoria, and excitement.

Start by making a list of the things and people you are most grateful for in this moment. Every morning, list the 5 things you are grateful for that day.

4. 1% Improvement

To maintain momentum and motivation, focus on getting 1% better per day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic goals. Let go of perfection and focus on progress. Anyone can improve by 1%. After a month, you’ll be 30% better. After 3 months you will be 100% better without nearly as much effort as you think.

5. Nature Breaks

When you take a break, look around you. If you don’t see any plants, trees, or blue sky, then you need to get outside. Being in nature naturally resets your mental state to a state of natural wellbeing.

Wayne Dyer famously said, “there’s nothing to do in nature. Nature will do you.” Take 5-10 minutes to be in nature with no expectations, and you will feel the results immediately.

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6. Music

Songs and sounds that motivate you have been shown to increase your brain’s ability to learn, be creative, and be motivated. This is especially true of classical music.

Put music on during mundane tasks to help you get through the day. Relaxing music in the evening can help you rest and recover better. Meditation music can help you reach deeper levels of focus and calm. In short, a bit of pleasant music can make nearly any situation better and more productive.

7. Hypnosis

Subconscious suggestion while in a relaxed state is the fastest way to program your mind for what you truly want. The subconscious mind is the hard drive of everything we do. A good way to start self-hypnosis is to close your eyes in a comfortable seated position, take a few deep breaths, and then put on audio conditioning or hypnosis audio.

8. Relational Communication

When having trouble communicating, remember this: the meaning of communication is the response you get.

When you’re communicating something important, pay attention to the way the other person responds. If they’re not responding the way you expected, it’s your responsibility to continue the communication cycle until they understand it the way you intended. Don’t make the other person responsible for how they’ll understand your message.

9. Laughter

Creating laughter in difficult situations stops us from immediately going into worry, doubt, and fear. Laughter is like the jamming system of our mental radar that gives us space to observe and learn from our situation.

When encountering a problem or difficulty, repeat out loud to yourself, “I laugh at this current situation. I can laugh at how bad this is.” Get your brain focused on laughter and amusement. It prevents the mental dominoes from falling down the wrong path by putting your mind into a state of curiosity so it becomes open to learning from the situation.

10. Time Blocking

If it’s important, you need to calendar it. Make sure you block out time for what’s most important in your day. This ensures at the end of the day that the essential things are done and distractions don’t rule your world. I use Outlook to organize my calendar appointments and Calendly to make it easier for people to book themselves on my calendar.

Find out more about time blocking: Time Blocking for Productivity (A Complete Guide)

11. Power Naps

One of my favorite strategies for achieving your goals fast is taking a nap. Research shows that people who take naps are more productive. A regular nap for 20 minutes per day can increase your performance and productivity by 10-30%.

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A great way to ensure a good power nap is by using an eye mask with noise-canceling headphones. For an extra boost, drink a cup of coffee just before you begin your nap. It sounds counterintuitive, but it takes the caffeine about 20 minutes to kick in and it will help you wake up feeling extra energetic.

Learn more about power nap: How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

12. 4-7-8 Breathing

When you’re stressed out or redlining in your day, this ancient Vedic breathing technique will instantly calm your last nerves. Start by inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth making a whoosh sound for 8 seconds. A quick 3 rounds of this technique will bring you down from even the most stressful situations in your day so you can get back to being productive.

13. Circle of Excellence

Here’s a quick way to shift yourself into a high-performance mindset: think about a time when you felt super confident and unstoppable. Re-live that memory. Place that memory in an imaginary circle in front of you on the floor. Once it’s there, step into the circle and the memory.

Imagine yourself being transported back to it, feeling it come in through your toes all the way to the top of your head, and imagine yourself looking through your own eyes as if you are inside of that memory now. Seeing what you’re seeing, hearing what you’re hearing, and feeling what your feeling, be in the memory now. Feel the motivation and confidence rise in your body. Activate that positive feeling in this very moment.

14. Be of Service

Helping others is one of the most relevant things we can do today to be happier, more grateful, and more motivated. Giving to others is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves psychologically. It releases a huge amount of positive chemicals and hormones that make us feel great. It also helps us put life in perspective. The happiest and most productive people are those who feel they are being of service.

15. Visualization

This is one of my favorite tools to help you create your ideal future. Take a few minutes to visualize how you want your life to be. This will help you get there much faster.

Studies with athletes have shown clearly that the more you practice any action in your mind, the quicker it becomes a reality. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between visualization and doing the actual thing. This might be the most powerful free technique of all time, so use it as often as possible!

Start trying these 13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals.

16. Head-Heart-Body

This exercise is the fastest way to check your mind, emotion, and physical well-being. It is a lot like checking the gauges on your car. The technique is simple—close your eyes, focus on your head, and notice what thoughts you’re having.

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Take a deep breath. Focus on your heart. Notice what mood or emotion you’re having. Take another breath. Focus on your diaphragm. Notice the sensations in your physical body. Take one more deep breath and ask the question, “What am I needing right now?” Write down the answer your mind gives you. This is a great technique to use midday or right before important decisions or activities.

17. Technology Time-Out

In our 24/7 hyper-connected world, we are constantly connected to our devices. This “always-on” lifestyle is hard on our bodies and mind. Putting your devices down a few times a day can help you reset and recharge. Take a few 10-minute “technology time-outs” each day and see how much better you feel by the end of the day.

18. Timefulness

Be “timeful” by being mindful of your relationship with time and being intentional with how you use your time. Stop blaming time and start using it. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life by knowing that you are 100% in control of your time—you are the source of time.

19. Time Frame Exercise

Changing the time frame in which you view a situation alters the way your brain views the content, often changing it from potentially negative to positive. It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you are focusing all your energy on this moment in time. If you take a moment to close your eyes and expand your time view from this moment into the future, it instantly changes the context which also changes the meaning of the content.

Open up time a bit in your mind and see how the situation could play out this month, year, or over a lifetime. The biggest upsets in life often turn out to be the most positive for us long term or, at least, have a less negative impact on us than we think.

20. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts has a profound effect on integrating the right and left sides of the brain. Research shows that when you write things down, you allow clarity and insights to come through simply by putting your thoughts and emotions on paper. Journaling allows you to name the emotions and things bothering you, and this process alone can help you neutralize and settle your thoughts. Name it to tame it.

21. Schedule Everything

Schedules allow for spontaneity. It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows the more organized your calendar is, the more flexible you can be. Knowing what you have to accomplish frees your mind to allow for spontaneous activity.

The lack of scheduling creates chaos in the mind. The calendar gets it out of your mind and frees up more cognitive space. It also gives us a GPS for what we need to do each day. Schedule all personal activities, not just work.

22. Get Better Sleep

Sleep is the master tool for recovery. Sleeping in a dark, quiet, cool room is the key to recovery and sleep. I personally use a Chillipad to keep my blanket temperature around 65 degrees. This gives me incredibly restful sleep.

23. The 5-Second Rule

This momentum technique from Mel Robbins is perfect for when you know you have something to do but don’t want to do it. Count down from 5 to1, and then start the activity. This countdown gives you the mental momentum to do things at that moment. Give yourself a countdown out loud whenever you find it hard to start a task and at the end of the count, you will be in action.

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24. The Accountability Mirror

This daily guidance technique keeps you focused on your goals. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “did I accomplish what I set out to accomplish today?” If you didn’t, be brutally honest about why you did not accomplish it, commit to fixing the issue, and do it the next day.

25. Stop, Start, Change

This is a super-effective 30-second therapy. Any issue you have or any place where you are stuck, stopped, or struggling, ask yourself, “what should I stop doing right now,” then “what should I start doing right now”, and “what should I change that I’m doing right now?”

26. The Magic Question

Here it is, the big question: “what am I pretending not to know?” When your brain is stuck and frozen or you feel like you don’t know what to do, ask yourself what you are pretending not to know about the current situation. It inverts the way your brain is processing the question. It penetrates your mind in a different way unlocking new possibilities.

The brain has a certain sequence to answer most questions. This question flips that sequence upside down, so your brain is forced to look at it differently. Use this question when you are ready for powerful changes.

27. Self-Compassion

One of the greatest things you can do to improve your productivity and maintain high-performance levels in your work or in whatever you do is to practice the techniques of being there for yourself. This means being mindful and paying attention to the way you talk to yourself when you encounter failures and setbacks, especially ones that feel as if they are your fault.

The key is to use the same kind of self-talk as you would use with a friend if they were in a similar situation. Speak to yourself with warmth and kindness. Then, recognize the common humanity of the situation—that you are not alone and there are many people out there experiencing exactly what you are right now.

Lastly, stay mindful of how you are talking to yourself and don’t overidentify or dissociate from the situation. “Compassionate productivity” is the most effective way to support yourself in these difficult times.[1] It’s not about being “soft” or going easy on yourself. It’s about being there for yourself in a supportive way, so you can recuperate and get back in the game in an even more productive way.

Try these 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to achieve your goals requires implementing some techniques and making use of some tools to help you on your path towards success. These 27 strategies are good starting points to jumpstart your journey towards achieving your dreams.

More Tips on How to Achieve Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Doran Erickson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Griffith: Compassionate Productivity

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