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Last Updated on May 5, 2021

Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

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Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

Goals are something we all have, but only a select few seem good at consistently achieving them. Most people seem to have a great deal of trouble reaching goals, even when they start the journey feeling excited and motivated. 

If you’re able to push through to the end to reach your big and small goals, it’s time to change up your strategy. Below, we’ll discuss some little-known wisdom about goal setting and goal achievement to get you back on track and accomplish any goal on your list.

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

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
  • Work better in a team
  • Shape the future

Having definite goals means the difference between knowing your destination or just drifting aimlessly over 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. In most cases, this is usually energized by change and innovation, as well as being comfortable with risk-taking while reaching goals. 

Just think for a moment about some successful people, such as Kamala Harris, Roger Federer, and Oprah Winfrey. These high-achievers all used goal-setting to help them realize their dreams.

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One of the best ways to set goals is to always write them down — 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.

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]

What Defines Us?

What exactly defines who you are, and how do your goals fit into this picture?

To help you answer these questions and start reaching goals, it’s important to have a basic understanding of values. 

To start, 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.

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.

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.

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 really matter. Goals that are based in our values will provide endless motivation, because we believe in them and want to see them play out.

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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 goals on your list and some of the best ways to change this.

Goals and Values Don’t Align

First, 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.

Wants Vs. Needs

Another issue that might be causing you to fail to reach your goals is that 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. 

Things we want usually trump what we need, and 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.

Unrealistic Goals

Think about the size of your goals. If they’re too big, then it may be difficult, or even impossible, to start reaching goals consistently. Ambition is good, but at the same time, you shouldn’t set unrealistic goals. 

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, contacting publishers, etc.

If your goals are unrealistic, it can push you to procrastinate on them. If you find procrastination is already plaguing your plans, check out Lifehack’s Fast Track Class – No More Procrastination.

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Poor Time Management

If your time is not well-organized, then it will be next to impossible to reach your big 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

How to Visualize Your Goals

An article about visualization on HuffPost 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 and won’t help you on your path to reaching goals. 

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

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.

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

Vision Goal Setting

When it comes to bigger goals, 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 or goal you want to follow, you 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 creating 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 streamline the necessary planning, preparation, and action. 

The Bottom Line

If you find that you have trouble reaching goals and staying motivated, the above suggestions can help. When it comes down to it, it’s about creating a goal you care about and laying out a plan to get it done.

Start with just one of the tips above, and you’ll be well on your way to making goal setting and goal achievement a natural part of your life. Start with just one of the tips above, and you’ll be well on your way to making goal setting and goal achievement a natural part of your life. Set your sights on short term and long term personal goals, and get started with an action plan today.

More on Reaching Goals

Featured photo credit: Marten Bjork via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on September 16, 2021

What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

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What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

Ready. Set. Go. For years, this was my three-step mindset when it came to goals. I would reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars without feeling the pain of the fall. This approach was all or nothing, and as a result, I experienced loads of burnout and almost zero productivity. In short, my task list was filled with high-level intentions, but I hadn’t taken the time to create a map to reach the destinations. I was lost in the planning stages because I didn’t understand process goals or have any examples to follow.

Since then, I’ve learned how to embrace the journey and break my outcome goals into smaller and more manageable process goals. This approach has improved my focus and reduced frustration because I’m now working towards a surefire strategy that will take me where I want to go––I’m creating a plan of action with achievable daily targets (a process goal).

What Is a Process Goal?

A process goal is not a destination, it’s the path you plan on taking to get there. For example, if you want to become better at writing, your process goal would be to post one blog article per week and learn from the feedback you receive. The destination is a monthly goal of 12 articles.

This distinction is important because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these types of goals are not all or nothing. Think about it. You’ve heard it said: it’s not about working hard but working smart.

Well, a process goal is an actionable target with what we call SMART criteria:

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  • Specific – The more detailed your goal, the better. For example, instead of “I want to be fit,” you would say, “I want to lose five pounds.” Make sure your goal is crystal clear.
  • Measurable – You need a way to measure progress and success, so it needs to be quantifiable. This is where you decide what “fit” actually means for you (more on this later).
  • Achievable – If your goal isn’t challenging, then it’s not going to be motivating. On the other hand, there must be a steeper mountain to climb if you want substantial results.
  • Realistic – “I want to run a marathon” is not practical for most people. Ensure you have the time, energy, and resources (e.g., training program) required to achieve your goal.
  • Time-Bound – Your goal needs an assigned deadline or it’s just a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but what happens when the fantasy ends?

To summarize, these are the essential components of any process goal: specific, measurable, achievable within a certain time frame, and realistic.

What Is a Destination Goal?

A destination goal is a point in time when you plan to be at a particular destination. For example, if your goal is to get to represent your country at the 2025 Summer Olympics, you right need to focus on smaller increments to attain that success. On your way to that goal, you need to focus on smaller destinations. First, make the national team. Then, compete in a few events and so forth.

If you try to make it to the Olympics from the very start without any milestones along the way, it would be too daunting. On the other hand, if you focus on each milestone as a destination goal, it will all seem possible and achievable.

Process Goal Template

Let’s say you want to become a better cook. Here is one way of writing the process goal: “I will save $100 per week by cooking all my meals at home for 12 weeks.” This would be your destination (monthly), and the steps required to achieve this goal (weekly) would be:

  1. Spend one hour on Sunday planning my meals for the week.
  2. Shop for groceries after work on Monday and Tuesday nights.
  3. Cook all meals at home on Wednesdays through Sundays.
  4. Pack my lunch for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  5. Save $100 per week in cash by cooking at home.

This process goal will help you become a better cook by teaching you to save money through planning, shopping, cooking, packing your own lunch, and trying new recipes. It also includes a weekly reward (saving $100 in cash) that will help you stay motivated.

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Process goals encourage you to reach your ultimate goals. When you feel like you can accomplish smaller goals along the way, you gain sustainability and confidence to move forward.

In many ways, process goals are a lot like faith. Each accomplishment brings you closer to seeing the fullness of the life that you desire––it breaks through the fog and makes things clearer.

What Questions Helped Me Find My Process Goals?

After several years of setting lofty goals and becoming increasingly frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at my approach.

Now, there are many ways you can do this, but here’s how I went about it. Last year, I asked myself the following questions:

  • What am I doing right now?
  • How can I get better at this?
  • Is this process goal leading me closer to my ultimate goals?

The choices I made from the answers to these questions became my process goals. They were the driving force that kept me motivated and moving forward when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish lifelong goals that I had given up on years ago. For example, I’ve been able to obtain a publishing contract, create more digital products for my business, and enjoy the moment.

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Before I broke down my goals into smaller ones, I was struggling to just get out of bed. The thought of my endless list kept me stagnant. Now, I look forward to each morning and taking on smaller projects to reach profitable outcomes.

What Are Some Process Goals You Can Try?

So, now that you understand the importance of process goals, let’s get you started with some examples that you can utilize this week:

  • Sign up for a new class.
  • Complete one portion of your project by Thursday.
  • Start walking around the block instead of running a mile.
  • Improve your writing by spending 30 minutes everyday journaling.
  • Practice your interview skills.
  • Read at least one book from the library this week.
  • Do ten push-ups each day before you leave for work.

You get the idea. These process goals don’t have to be complicated. If anything, you want to break down your plans to the point of them feeling easy or at least doable without needing a week’s vacation. By breaking your goals down into smaller pieces, you can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period. You’ll also feel more confident that you’re able to accomplish something within the moment.

It isn’t easy to continue towards your goal if achievement feels too far away. You need to celebrate the small things and embrace the process.

What Do You Need for Process Goals?

Think about how much time and money you’ve spent on new clothes, books, technology, etc. Many of us want to keep up with the latest trends and purchase the best gadgets from Apple or Microsoft. But all of these extra investments come at a steep price.

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To find your process goals, you may have to face some difficult emotions or situations bravely and confront them head-on. You might need to forgo the new outfit or the latest Mac book to meet your overall objectives.[1] Remember, process goals not only protect you from feeling overwhelmed, but they also keep you from being distracted.

Final Thoughts

You may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to set a process goal. Sometimes, just thinking about change triggers stress hormones, which only leads to more worries and anxious feelings. However, if you keep yourself focused and take small steps in the right direction, you’ll soon realize that goals don’t have to be complicated.

You can achieve your process goals one day at a time, and you can start today by breaking down your larger goal into smaller steps. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week or six months, what matters most is that you’re moving forward and doing something to make yourself better.

Now, go on out there and achieve one of your process goals!

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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Reference

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