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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 September 18, 2020

How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

1. Create an Exciting Vision

If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

    Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

    Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

    Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

    2. Build a Strategic Plan

    Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

    Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

    You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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    The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

    The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

    These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

    3. Get on Goal Planning

    Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

    Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

    Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

    This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

    Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

    These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

    Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

    Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

    4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

    You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

    But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

    Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

    You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

    One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

    Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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    Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

    It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

    5. Completely Commit to Your Success

    If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

    Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

    Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

    Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

    How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

    When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

    And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

    6. Focus on Your Strengths

    To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

    What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

    Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

    If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

    Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

    Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

    7. Embrace the Present

    Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

    Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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    We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

    Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

    8. Calm the Whirlwind

    The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

    Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

    There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

    Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

    Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

    Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

    Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

    In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

    Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

    Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

    9. Take More Time off

    This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

    If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

    You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

    The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

    Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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    Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

    Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

    Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

    10. Celebrate Wins

    Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

    You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

    Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

    If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

    Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

    11. Give Yourself More Space

    When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

    Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

    Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

    If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

    In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

    A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

    Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

    Final Thoughts

    Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

    This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

    The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

    More on How to Be Self-Assured

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

    Reference

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