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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How to Set Goals in Life to Achieve the Success You Want

How to Set Goals in Life to Achieve the Success You Want

If you Google “goals in life”, you’ll get almost 3 billion results. Yes, you read that right. Billion.

There’s a good reason why. It’s widely recognized that having clear goals is essential to achieving success in all areas of your life; relationships, career, health, finances, spirituality, learning, growth, business, you name it.

    In fact, setting goals has many benefits:

    • They support you to live an exciting, fulfilling and meaningful life.
    • They give you something to focus on and work towards.
    • They help you identify what you want and what’s most important to you.
    • They show you where you’re going and how much progress you’re making.
    • They inform major decisions in your life and give you a North Star to stay grounded.
    • They provide direction in your life and clarity in decision-making.
    • They drive motivation and inspiration.
    • They accelerate your accomplishments and provides a sense of satisfaction.

    That’s why I make a habit of setting goals regularly and encourage my clients to do the same. In fact, for as long as I can remember, my husband and I sit down at the beginning of the year to set goals and intentions for the year ahead. When the kids became old enough to participate, they started joining us for this important ritual.

    Goals have power. Even if you have no idea how you’re going to achieve them, you know what you want to achieve, and this sets you up to find a way.

    Think about the last time you had a clear, compelling goal. How did you feel? What impact did that have on your happiness, energy, and success?

    So, if you’re feeling stuck, bored or unmotivated; or you’re looking for ways to accelerate your success and experience more fulfillment in all areas of your life, it’s time to start creating goals.

    People have been setting goals since the dawn of time. Then, the theory of goal setting was brought into the mainstream by Edwin A. Locke in the mid-1960s[1] and the first publication of SMART goals was released in 1981 in an issue of Management Review.[2] We’ve been obsessed with setting goals ever since.

    I’ve been wondering, what could I possibly tell you about goal-setting that’s not already been shared in the almost three billion resources you have at your fingertips? Absolutely nothing. I’d like to say I have some new methodology or innovative pearl of wisdom to share. But I don’t.

    The problem is not that there isn’t enough content or information out there about goal-setting. The problem is that we read articles, scroll through social media, listen to podcasts, watch videos on YouTube and then don’t take any action forward.

    It’s not enough to know goals are important or how to set a goal. You must identify your own goals, write them down and take action towards them.

    As a corporate trainer, coach and consultant, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how much knowledge or information someone has. In order to take their learning to the next level, they must apply it. That’s where the real value comes in.

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    So today, rather than give you more content, I’m going to walk you through a process.

    My goal? That you take the time to walk through this process yourself and when you finish this article, you’ll have at least one goal that supports you to live the life of your dreams.

    Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to set goals in life, and actually achieve them. Grab a pencil and paper, or open the notes on your phone and get ready to take action.

    Step 1: Pick an Area of Your Life That Is Important to You.

    Think of a part of your life where you’d like to have more success or greater satisfaction. Focus on an area you feel is lacking and you’d like to make a change or improvement. This might include your career, finances, business, spirituality, personal growth, health, family, relationships, social life or attitude.

    Check out the wheel of life below if you need some help. On a scale of 1-10, rate your current level of satisfaction in each area:

      The closer you are to the center-line, the more you lack in that area; the closer to the outer line, the more successful and happy you feel in that part of your life.

      Got an area you’d like to focus on? Great! You can move on to step two.

      Step 2: Think About What You Want in This Area of Your Life

      If you don’t know what you want, how do you expect to get it?

      Imagine yourself 6 months from today. What needs to have happened for you to feel happy, successful or satisfied in that part of your life?

      Here are some ideas to get you started:

      • Career – Do you want to get the raise or promotion, find a new role, take on a big project, improve your leadership skills, make a career switch or retire?
      • Finances – Perhaps you want to have financial freedom, pay off debt, buy a house, make an investment or increase your income?
      • Personal Growth – Do you want to improve your self-awareness, build confidence or self-esteem, address old wounds or heal trauma? Or do you want to learn a new skill, get an advanced degree or go back to school?
      • Health – Do you want to have greater health and more energy? Perhaps you want to run a marathon, exercise more regularly, eat better, meditate or practice mindfulness.
      • Relationships – Do you want to be in a loving relationship, be a better parent, be more compassionate, increase your social circle, spend more time with your friends?

      Once you know what you want, you can move to step three.

      Step 3: Set a Goal

      There are all types of goals you can set for yourself.

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      • Short-term goals, long-term goals, lifetime goals.
      • Small, incremental goals and big hairy audacious goals (BHAG).
      • Skill goals (to learn to ride a skateboard or peak a new language)
      • Behavioral goals (to be more patient, kind or confident)

      There are goals around

      • Things you want to have (owning a house or car, making partner, finding a new job or career)
      • Things you want to do (skydiving, spending time with family, exercising, losing weight or traveling to Australia)
      • Experiences you want to enjoy (have you always wanted to skydive, run a marathon or take up painting?)
      • What you want to give or how you want to contribute. (Think about your time, talents energy or money). Studies prove that those who give are happier, so if you want to be happier, make more goals to give.

      And one that’s often not given enough time or attention… Who you want to BE? Happy, confident, successful, kind, loving, grateful, generous, fulfilled, settled, passionate, creative, fun?

      Last year, I wanted to be more relaxed – to stop stressing so much and go with the flow more. Our family made a goal to all be more observant, loving and helpful. One of my daughters wanted to be more patient, another to be more focused.

      What is a goal you’d like to set for yourself? Remember, there is no one right answer or one-size-fits-all approach. Write it down now. Then, move on to the next step.

      Step 4: Check Your Goal

      Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).

      You also must make sure you:

      • Identify your why: Why is your goal important to you? If you don’t know your why, you’re going to get distracted and lost along the way. Your goals must be meaningful and relevant.
      • Have a deep desire to achieve your goal. The keywords here being YOU and DESIRE. You must really want to achieve this. It can’t be for someone else. Ask yourself, “Does this goal support the life I’m trying to create?”
      • Believe it’s possible. You may not know how it’s going to happen, but in order to reach your goals, some part of you, deep down, needs to believe it’s possible. This is why it’s important to create goals that inspire and motivate you but aren’t so big that you don’t believe they’re possible.

      If you checked that your goals are SMART, know your why, have a deep desire to achieve your goal and truly believe it’s possible, you can move on to the next step.

      Step 5: Visualize the Outcome

      Clarity is key. We all know the power of visualization. Visualize yourself AS IF you have already achieved your goal.

      Take a moment to close your eyes and really imagine it. Step into that scene and feeling as much as possible. What do you notice? What do you see, hear or feel as a result of achieving this goal? Really put yourself in the power that you’ll feel when you’ve achieved your goal.

      Next, it’s time to create a plan of action.

      Step 6: Create a Plan to Achieve your Goal

      At the very least, create the first step. Actions lead to the achievement of your goals. Small actions eventually lead to big results.

      Create as much of a plan as you can to achieve your goal. The bigger the goal, the larger the plan. But keep it as simple as possible, too.

      Got your first step and a plan of action to achieve your goals? Great. You’re almost ready to get started. Before you do, you must identify your obstacles.

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      Step 7: Anticipate Obstacles

      When you know what’s going to get in the way, you’re going to be much less likely to get thrown off track when things don’t go the way you expected (they never do).

      What could get in the way of you achieving your goal? Consider factors such as distraction, procrastination, loss of focus, your environment, underestimating time and resources.

      For example, if you want to exercise three days a week, maybe you can foresee that work travel is going to get in the way. How can you make alternative plans for those weeks? Maybe you want to go back to school, but you’re not sure if you can get the financial aid you need. Sort that out first or figure out your plan.

      Read the top 7 reasons why so many New Year’s Resolutions (and goal-setting) fail here.

      Once you have a sense of what’s going to get in the way and have a strategy in place for when that arises, it’s time to get started.

      Step 8: Take the First Step

      Remember that plan of action? What’s your first step? Take it.

      “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” -Tony Robbins

      If you’re serious about achieving your goal, take action now. Today. Pick up your phone. Make the call. Send the email. Join the dating site. Start the job search. Join the gym. Call a friend. Schedule it in your calendar. Get started. There is no better time than the present.

        Step 9: Stay on Track

        In order to achieve your goals, you must stay on track. Think about a goal, resolution or commitment you made that you DID keep. What worked to keep you on track? Why did you keep it? What were the factors at play?

        In research conducted at the Dominican University of California, psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews concluded the following:[3]

        “My study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools: accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals”

        Start by writing down your goals and placing them where you can see them. One statistic I read shared that 23% of people forgot their New Years’ resolutions. Forgot!

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        My sister tells the story often about the goal she had for selling her business. She wrote the sale price and date on a post-it and taped it to her mirror where she could see it daily. It served as a constant reminder of her North Star and what was most important to her. It kept her focused and on track. Our family goals are pinned to a bulletin board in the kitchen in our house for this very reason.

        Next, let’s talk about accountability.

        Matthews found that more than 70 percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement (completely accomplished their goal or were more than halfway there), compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves, without writing them down.

        Other studies have proven the same. Share your goals with others. Get an accountability partner to keep you on track or simply send weekly updates to a friend.[4]

        You can also create checkpoints. If you’ve ever participated in a long race, you know how important checkpoints are to keeping you on track. When you know where you are along the way to your goals, you can speed up, slow down or make changes.

        Lastly, always remember to celebrate your successes. Will you fail sometimes? Face setbacks or obstacles? Absolutely! But having a clear goal will get you further down the track.

        Create short term rewards for yourself and tie them to your checkpoints. For example, if you have a goal to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year, you might want to buy yourself a new pair of running shoes or treat yourself to a spa day when you’ve reached the half-way point.

        Summing It Up

          Bottom Line

          Congratulations, you did it! If you followed the step-by-step instructions above, you now have a clear, compelling goal that will improve some area of your life.

          If you didn’t go through the steps right now, you can schedule some time later today or this week to dedicate to this important process. I’m going to encourage you to schedule that now before you move on to the next thing!

          Then, it’s up to you to APPLY. Remember, knowledge is not power, action is.

          You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. — C.S. Lewis

          Finish this year strong and start the new year with clarity, focus, momentum and a sense of satisfaction knowing you’re one step closer to your goals.

          More About Goal Setting

          Featured photo credit: Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

          Reference

          More by this author

          Tracy Kennedy

          Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

          how to stop being a perfectionist How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide) Effective Decision Making Process: How to Make Wise Decisions 10 Powerful Ways to Be More Confident How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck

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          1 How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways 2 How to Use the 5 Whys to Get to the Root Cause of Any Problem 3 4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions 4 How to Bullet Journal to Skyrocket Your Productivity 5 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

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          Last Updated on September 18, 2020

          How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

          How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

          Memory plays an integral role in our lives, both in the short and long term. If you’re wondering how to improve memory, I’m here to tell you that there are natural and effective ways to do so.

          Despite what you might think, improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it.

          Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve memory efficiently and reduce the risk of memory loss.

          1. Meditate

          We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts, and figures into our conscious minds.

          Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder, then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

          Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. Research suggests that the more information and distractions you receive, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory[1].

          Fortunately, meditation can help.

          Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

          While any amount of meditation will do something to help your memory, one study pointed out that “8 but not 4 weeks of brief, daily meditation decreased negative mood state and enhanced attention, working memory, and recognition memory as well as decreased state anxiety scores”[2].

          Therefore, if you’re looking for the most benefits, try sticking with a meditation practice for at least 8 weeks.

          However, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

          2. Get Plenty of Sleep

          If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s likely that you’re not able to remember well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

          If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities, including your memory.

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          If you want to learn how to improve memory, how much sleep should you be getting?

          Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation[3], you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things[4].

          If you want to improve memory, get plenty of sleep.

            Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!), but if you care about improving your long and short term memory, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

            Try these three things to naturally improve your sleep cycle:

            • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
            • Don’t eat too late
            • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

            Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

            However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory.

            3. Challenge Your Brain

            When was the last time you challenged your brain?

            I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or under-sleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and memory games.

            To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

            Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-solving ability, and memory.

            There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

            • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
            • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
            • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

            If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

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            Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it; try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

            4. Take More Breaks

            When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctly remember working all the hours under the sun—and many under the moon, too!

            At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat, and tears.

            However, if you want to know how to improve memory, taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative, and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

            Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

            One 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change…and prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”[5].

            This is based on something called the “vigilance decrement.” This can be applied to many things. For example, we often don’t notice the feeling of clothing touch our bodies because our brain becomes accustomed to the sensation. However, if you change clothes, you’ll likely notice the difference in texture and temperature for a few minutes.

            When you take a break from memorizing information, it refocuses your attention and energy, leading to increased focus overall.

            It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart, and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

            Basically, make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

            5. Learn a New Skill

            I love this quote, as it’s 100% true but frequently overlooked:

            “Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

            From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

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            Let me give you an example of this:

            Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day, many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

            Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

            The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you rather than letting you work in your own way.

            Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill (computer coding).

            It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career, and the ongoing learning made the call center job much more bearable.

            Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus, and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking out new information. When learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly becomes a habit, too.

            If you want to know how to learn something new every day, check out this article.

            6. Start Working out

            If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

            Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory[6].

            Regular physical activities increase blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. A well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

            Even if you don’t have much time, research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines[7].

            Interested in getting started?

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            Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

            • Join a gym
            • Join a sports team
            • Buy a bike
            • Take up hiking
            • Dance to your favorite music

            7. Eat Healthier Foods

            I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

            This applies to your brain, too.

            The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

            Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery, and dark chocolate. But any fruits, vegetables, or foods high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory. Here’re some ideas: 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

            Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain, leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

            If you want to improve your mental health, eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

            • Turmeric – Helps new brain cells grown
            • Broccoli – Protects the brain against damage
            • Nuts – Improves memory
            • Green tea – Enhances brain performance, memory and focus[8]
            • Fish oilFish oil supplements can increase your brain power

            Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

            Also, remember that your brain is about 75% water, so dehydration can have a huge effect on the way your brain functions. Stay hydrated if you really want to improve memory!

            Final Thoughts

            I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be helpful for you.

            You don’t need to implement them all, but you can try out the ones that appeal to you.

            But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory and avoiding cognitive decline, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested.

            More on How to Improve Memory

            Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

            Reference

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