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Published on August 12, 2019

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

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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