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Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

Goals, goals, goals… we all have them. But, only a select few seem good at consistently achieving and exceeding their goals.

Would you like to join this select group?

If yes, then read on to discover some little-known wisdom about goal setting and goal achievement. 

How Goal Setting Impacts Our Lives

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” — Zig Ziglar

According to Psychology Today, goal setting is linked to higher achievement.[1]

This is due to several factors, including the ability of goal setting to:

  • Help us become more resourceful
  • Help us work better in a team
  • Help us shape the future

Author Rick McDaniel stated:

“Goal setters see future possibilities and the big picture.”

And he was right. Having definite goals means the difference between knowing your destination port — or just drifting aimlessly upon the sea.

In my experience, I’ve seen a clear pattern: People who regularly set goals regularly achieve success.

I believe their mindset plays a big part in this. Which, in most cases, is usually energized by change and innovation, as well as being comfortable with risk-taking. 

Just think for a moment about some famous, successful people such as Richard Branson, Roger Federer and Dwayne Johnson. These high-achievers all used goal-setting to help them realize their dreams.

And, you can do the same.

One of the best ways of goal setting, is to always write down your goals — either in your journal, on a card that you can keep in your wallet or purse, or within a digital notepad. When you do this, you immediately transform your ideas from just being wishful thinking, into concrete first steps.

And, the effectiveness of writing down goals is actually backed by research. In 2015, psychologist Gail Matthews showed that people who wrote down their goals, were 33% more successful in achieving them, versus those who just kept ideas in their heads.[2]

So do you want to improve your chances of realizing your goals by 33%? 

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Then write them down!

What Defines Us?

Have you thought about this before? What exactly defines who you are? And how do your goals fit into this picture?

To help you answer these questions, I’ve put together five key points:

  1. Goals should be based on your core principles and values — For example, if you care deeply about the planet, then your goals should be aligned to sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.
  2. Values are your own personal ethical and moral beliefs — However, be aware that some of these beliefs may change over time, while others will stay steadfast throughout your life.
  3. Values represent what we stand for and believe in, how we want to relate to others, and the legacy we would like to leave behind — This means that they should be one of the first sources of reference for the goals that we set.
  4. Values-based goals guide us towards what is important versus unimportant — In other words, when our goals are aligned with our values; we can immediately decide which of them really matter, and which of them don’t.
  5. Values-based goals will provide endless motivation, because we believe in them and want to see them play out — Have you experienced this in your life? Perhaps when you were a captain of your local basketball team or the singer in a band.
  6. When your goals match your beliefs and values, you’ll find it much easier (and much more enjoyable) to attain them. In fact, in most cases, you won’t even feel like you have to work towards these goals — they’ll just be part of what you love doing.

Why We Sometimes Fail

Let’s now talk about why you might not be currently reaching your goals, and some of the best ways to change this.

First — and this relates to what I talked about above — if your goals don’t honor your values, then this will make it much harder for you to achieve them. This might happen if you’re pursuing goals on behalf of someone else, such as a teacher, parent or partner. Or perhaps it’s a goal that society deems worthwhile and noble, but one that you personally disagree with.

Another issue that might be causing you to fail to reach your goals is this: you’re more interested in your wants than your needs. For instance, you WANT to save up to buy a shiny, new sports car, but… you also NEED to pay off your student loans. 

Does this sound familiar? Things we want usually trump what we need; but this can play havoc with your goal setting. To remedy this, spend time observing yourself and your life to clearly identify your needs. Then, prioritize these over your wants.

How about the size of your goal? Is it too big? If it is, then it may be difficult — or even impossible — to reach. Now, don’t get me wrong, ambition is good. But at the same time, you shouldn’t set unrealistic goals. 

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For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you can’t just write a book and submit it — there needs to be lots of mini goals that get checked off before that, such as honing your writing, researching how to get published, outlining your story… the list goes on!

The last factor I want to talk about in this section is time management. If your time is not well-organized, then it will be next to impossible to reach your goals.

If you don’t think time management is an issue for you, then let me ask you this: How much time do you spend each day on social media? If it’s more than you’d like, then you’ll need to make some changes to your daily routine if you’re serious about ramping up your success.

The following article is a great place to start: 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Visualize Your Goals

An article about visualization on the HuffPost website states the following:[3]

“When we visualize our desired outcome, we begin to “see” the possibility of achieving it. Through visualization, we catch a glimpse of what is, in the words of one writer, our “preferred future.” When this happens, we are motivated and prepared to pursue our goal.”

While I agree 100% with the above, I want to make it clear to you that visualization should not be confused with the “think it and have it” mentality. This is just wishful thinking. 

Genuine visualization recognizes the need for action on your part. But yes, it’s certainly true that — before you can believe in a goal, you must see it before you can believe in it.

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To give you an example of this, think about the last time you had a craving for a hot apple pie with custard or a delicious ice cream waffle. When the craving came… you didn’t only recall the taste and texture of the food, but you would have also seen a vivid image of the food in your mind — possibly even an image of you wolfing down the food!

In other words, before you could choose, find and eat the food, you would have had to see it first on your mind’s movie screen.

When it comes to bigger goals (although you may argue there’s nothing more important than a tasty dessert!), I recommend following a technique called Vision Goal Setting (VGS for short). The way this works is that you search for a dream based on your passions and inspirations. 

Once you’ve decided on the dream you want to follow, then you would build a crystal clear vision of where and what you would be doing in 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years into the future.

By spending time to create these images, you’ll give yourself deliberate steps to take towards achieving your ultimate career goal. VGS will increase your motivation and commitment to your goal, as well as streamlining the necessary planning, preparation and action. 

How does it do this? By giving you a definite image of your end destination, as well as the major stations along the way.

I used to have trouble reaching my goals, but when I adopted just some of the suggestions that I’ve included in this article, I was eventually able to turn my life around. 

Now, imagine if you adopted ALL the suggestions in this article. You’d be well on your way to making goal setting and goal achievement a natural part of your life.

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Featured photo credit: Marten Bjork via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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