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Last Updated on June 19, 2020

Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

The challenge most people have with setting goals is figuring out how to achieve them. Many goals end up abandoned because they become a burden rather than a source of inspiration. When you don’t have a goals strategy, achieving your goals will only be a mirage. In this article, you will find insight into why you need a strategy for your goals and examples of what you should include in your goals strategy.

What Is a Goals Strategy?

A goals strategy is an approach you take to achieve your set goals[1]. It is a plan of action and a set of tactics you deploy to ensure that you accomplish the things you set out to do.

Why You Should Have a Goals Strategy

A goal being pursued without an accompanying strategy will ultimately lead to abandonment or frustration. This is because there are internal and external forces that can work against your goal. Your strategy is meant to help you confront these unforeseen circumstances.

What Your Goals Strategy Should Include

Your strategy should consist of primary plans, contingency plans, tactics, and other initiatives you are willing to take to achieve your goals. Below are examples of things you can include in your strategy.

1. Have an Action Plan

Your action plan is a clear outline of how you intend to achieve your goals. It includes the specific things you have to do and the moves you have to make to achieve your goal.

For example, if you intend to save up an amount of money over a period of one year, your action plan will include a regular plan of setting aside a certain amount of money. It can also include other details, such as whether or not you will need to open a designated account for savings. The plan can also include how you intend to cut down on some other expenses to achieve your goal.

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2. Focus on the Process Rather Than Results

One of the best strategies you can deploy to achieve your goals is to focus on the processes involved in achieving your goals rather than the end results. When you focus your energy on the process, you have greater chances of hitting your goals.

For example, if you have a goal to land a new job, your first focus should be on finding opportunities that match your previous work experience.

Once you’ve found a position, your next focus is preparing and submitting an attractive resume and cover letter in order to get called for an interview. If you get called for an interview, your next focus would be giving the interview process all it takes. This will involve researching the company, preparing to give appropriate responses to your interviewers, and portraying yourself as the best candidate for the job.

Your goal of getting a new job will likely come to fruition if you have focused on giving your best at each of the stages mentioned rather than just being preoccupied about getting the job.

3. Choose One Area to Focus on

One of the reasons people often find it impossible to reach their goals is because they run after too many goals at a time. While you can have multiple goals, choosing and concentrating your energy on one goal at a time can make a difference.

This is a strategy that works. Human nature is not wired to perform optimally when its energy is diverted toward too many things at one time. Focusing on an area means prioritizing your goals, taking one thing at a time, and moving on to the next thing when you’ve achieved the previous one.

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4. Plan for Changes and New Challenges

Another strategy you can put in place for your goals strategy are contingency plans. There are many things that are outside of your control that can affect your goals. For example, there can be major socio-economic changes that can affect your goal projections, changes to your living situation, or an unexpected illness.

For example, your investment plan can be affected by an economic recession. If this happens, you will need an alternative plan to be able to achieve your investment goals.

5. Be Ready to Embrace New Directions

When situations change and a goal seems out of reach, embracing a new direction might be another way to reach your goal.

For example, if you have the goal of occupying a particular position in your organization, and after giving your best, the position is given to someone else, seeking a similar position in a similar organization can be something to think about.

If it is business, and you are not getting results with the kinds of clients you currently have, you might upgrade or downgrade your product/service and focus on a different set of clients.

6. Test a Miniature Version of Your Goal

It is good to set big goals, but before you launch, test it on a smaller scale. Testing a smaller version of your goal will give you the opportunity to detect opportunities and threats to your goals that you might not have considered before.

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This strategy is applicable in business and for individuals. It is what recruiters use as job simulation (a test job) to ascertain how a candidate will perform on the real job. It is what partners practice when they date to get familiar with each other before making a marriage commitment.

7. Create Milestones

This looks like the one earlier mentioned about focusing on the process, but there’s some difference. Creating milestones[2] means breaking your goal into actionable units and focusing on achieving each unit at a specific moment.

For example, if you plan on moving your family to a new country for permanent residency, this will require that you at least secure employment in that country. Therefore, your first milestone will be to secure employment that can guarantee you and your family permanent residency. The second milestone is to secure your visa and residency permits, and your third and last milestone will be to plan the logistics of the move. All of these will come with deadlines or timelines, so add those to your goals strategy.

8. Find a Competitor

While it is good to work at your own pace, healthy competition can help to bring out the best in you. It can also make you go the extra mile you might not have been willing to go alone.

Whatever it is that your goal is about, you can find someone to compete with. It might be at your workplace or someone you know remotely. A good example of this is found in two great athletes in the game of soccer: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players attest to how the rivalry between them has made them better in the game to the amazement of fans around the world[3].

9. Have an Accountability Partner

If your goal remains with you alone, it is easy to bury it in the pit of procrastination or drown it in the ocean of complacency. However, when you communicate your goals to an accountability partner — someone that is interested in your growth and can challenge you to action — you will often find the motivation to achieve your goals.

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For example, when you create your yearly goals, you can have a chat with your accountability partner to challenge you based on your goals and the timeline you have set. To be more accountable, you can schedule a monthly or quarterly goal review meeting with your accountability partner

10. Act on Your Goal Daily

Your goals have to be serviced daily to keep your mind on them, so make this part of your goals strategy. This might be as simple as thinking it over: what you have done and what you can still do to reach your goal. It can also involve taking actions, such as making a phone call, sending an email reminder, or making a request that is connected to your goal.

11. Be Comfortable With Failure

If you don’t mind whether you fail or not, you will give your best to the processes involved in achieving your goals. Sometimes, not being sure of what the outcome might be can prevent us from giving our best because we don’t want our efforts to go down the drain.

However, when we are comfortable with failure, we will give our best to the process, leaving the outcome to emerge on its own. The results of this kind of approach are surprisingly impressive. However, even if it turns out that it truly failed, you will be proud that you gave it your best.

12. Keep a Goal Performance Journal

Have a journal to track your performance, including actions that you took that led to success in the process of achieving your goals. This will not only be useful for your current goal pursuit, but it will also be useful for future goals as you might need to repeat those actions.

Final Thoughts

Achieving your goals will require more than strategies; you will need to have the courage and determination to pursue your goals in the face of all odds. However, strategies do have their place. They provide the best path you can take to achieve your goals and limit your chances of failure.

More Tips on Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Patrick Perkins via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful Life

How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful Life

Change begins with the hope of what’s possible in your life. Hope leads to a sense of expectancy Combine this with setting short-term goals, and the likelihood of being more happy and successful moves from possibility to reality.

Short-term goals, when created with well-formed criteria, offer incremental steps towards successfully achieving your bigger goals.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll discover the secret to creating short-term goals that will set you up for success and help you sail past challenges of staying motivated easily.

What Is a Short-Term Goal?

Short-term goals are ‘short’, meaning the time frame can be as short as 10 minutes, a day, or as long as a week or a few months. Well-formed short-term goals begin with the end in mind.

Quick tip:

Write down the specific result you want to achieve and the date when it should happen. Then, work backward from this date, describing what you’ll notice yourself doing (and achieving) until you take the first step.

A short-term goal is the smallest step you need for you to reach a bigger goal centered around achieving something you passionately desire.

Passionate desire‘ is the key.

As Tony Robbins says,

People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.[1]

Having passion when setting goals means getting your mind and body activated to fuel your energy and focus. Each time you achieve a short-term goal, your body celebrates by producing and releasing chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin oxytocin, and endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters).

Ian Robertson, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure, says,

Success and failure shape us more powerfully than genetics and drugs.

The regular release of the body’s natural chemicals supports brain change at a neural level, building your confidence, and renewing your goal-oriented focus.

The Benefits of Setting Short-Term Goals

Regardless of the area in your life where you set your short-term goals, it will have a ripple effect across all your life domains.

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  • Improve your career prospects and your sense of identity also shifts.
  • Improve your body shape through managing food intake and your energy improves in a way that’s noticeable at work and home.
  • Improve your mindset and your attitude changes around how you engage with others.
  • Improve your health and your desire for self-improvement lifts.

6 Steps to Success With Short-Term Goals

Setting short-term goals will lead you closer to a happier and more successful life, but can you achieve that?

Take the following steps and you will start achieving your dreams:[2]

Step 1: Know Your Best Hopes

Try this process yourself by thinking of an area in your life that you’d like to improve.

For example:

  • What are your best hopes for your finances?
  • What are your best hopes for your relationship?
  • What are your best hopes for your career?
  • What are your best hopes for your health?

This process involves ‘chunking up’ your ideas to imagine the results more clearly. In this process, you try to achieve not only the goal and the outcome it gives you but also the changes in your behavior and mindset as a result of achieving your goal.

Step 2: Notice What’s Different

The next question to ask yourself is: “What would you notice that was different from the way you usually did things?”

‘Noticing’ helps you build a vision of what could be possible. The richer the description you can build around the tiny details, the more ‘real’ your preferred future becomes.

Step 3: Ask: ‘What Else?’

Most of us know there’s a hidden reason or a long-buried hope beneath why we want something.

Often, our ego gets a little defensive about it and protective of it. But if we dig and resurface the truth, then weight can be lifted, allowing you the freedom to move forward.

Step 4: Ask: ‘Who Will Notice the Difference?’

Relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and your partner are important. Seeing the change they’ll notice helps put another perspective on the differences they see in you.

Imagine what they will notice about you that would let them know something changed about you as a result of achieving this goal.

Step 5: Imagine a Miracle Happened Tonight

Imagine that if you went to bed tonight and a miracle happened; and you were the very best version of yourself and that you had achieved your best hopes.

When you woke up tomorrow morning after the miracle happened, what would you notice that would tell you you’ve achieved the change you’re seeking?

Step 6: Describe Your Day as If the Miracle Had Happened

Go through your day, moment by moment. Begin with what time you would wake up and then describe the differences you would notice in every tiny action you do.

Notice in detail what’s different about this day – a day when you are at your very best because you’re living your best hopes.

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How to Track Your Short Term Goals Success

When you set a short-term goal, establish a measurement system to track your progress:[3]

1. Create a Running Tally

One of the best devices to keep your short-term goal setting on track is to keep a running record or tally of the number of days in a row that you’ve sustained your goal.

For example, if improving your health is important to you and you plan to reduce your weight by 5 kilos by not eating any foods containing sugar, then set up a simple chart and track how many days in a row you can do this. Aim for 5 days, then 10, then 20 days in a row. If you have a small diversion and eat sugar one day, simply start again.

Once you feel confident that you can continue with this step, add another such as taking 5,000 steps per day. Again, set up a simple tally chart either in your diary or somewhere visible and enjoy marking up one more day that you’ve achieved your short-term goal. It won’t be long before your goal of losing 5 kilos is met.

2. Keep a Journal

Maintaining a journal will help you focus on identifying the things that are different because you’ve set a well-formed short-term goal.

Aim to complete the journal at the end of each day and recall in detail the things that you’re noticing. This helps keep you connected with your desired outcome and the transformation you’re experiencing in both your behavior and mindset.

Take a look at this guide if you’re starting out journaling: Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide).

3. Share Your Progress With a Trusted Friend or Coach

By voicing the change and expressing how far you’re noticing yourself move towards your goal, you’re reinforcing the power of change you’re experiencing.

And you’ll be activating the feel-good neurotransmitters that are so important for bringing your confidence, motivation, and positive changes to your brain to succeed.

Here’re more reasons why you should get yourself a life coach: 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential.

4. Visualize Your Progress

Before you go to sleep in the evening, visualize your tomorrow. See yourself continuing to do the things that support your change.

Walk yourself through the tiny details that add up to the changes you want to see yourself doing, including the time you’ll wake up. In the morning, re-activate the visualization and then ‘step into’ your day.

Short-Term Goal Example: A Career Short-Term Goal

How to advance your career with short-term goals? Specifically, you will need short-term goals to help with your career. This is also how many people want to utilize short-term goals.

Start by Planning Your Career Visually

Walt Disney was sacked for lacking imagination. Oprah Winfrey was told she’d never make it on television. Careers are destroyed by naysayers intent on keeping you small. The successful person designs a career goal and then creates incremental steps to ‘ladder up’ with short-term goals.

Justin Dry from VinoMofo, a successful Australian wine distribution company, always begins his goal-setting process with visual planning. He says,

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I need to see it all in front of me like a puzzle I’m putting together. It kind of looks like the workings of a madman with lots of weird and wonderful shapes and lines connecting the words.

Whether you use masses of post-it notes that cover a wall, large sheets of paper to spread your ideas on or a journal to map your path – messy planning gets your ideas out of your head so you see different possibilities and pathways available to you.

Begin this process by asking, “What are my best hopes for my career?”

Write them down and place them somewhere you’ll notice them every day.

Make You Think Like a Start-Up Entrepreneur

While successful career planning starts with a messy and random process to let those ‘idea gems’ – the embryos of well-formed short-term goals rise, the next step is taking these nuggets and using them to set your direction.

Think of yourself (and your career) as if you’re the CEO of your successful start-up – one with a clear vision of what you want and how you’ll get it. Rather than waiting for a boss to give you goals, be proactive, and set your own.

Karen Lawson, CEO of Slingshot says,

Set a vision, and be focused on the intent of these goals. Create actions which not only build on those of yesterday but also improve what you do tomorrow. Your pathways will need to be flexible, challenged, and accountable.

Begin by listing the bigger steps needed to achieve your goal. Then chunk these down into smaller steps with specific actions needed to achieve them. These action steps are the workhorses of your short-term goals.

Create a specific time frame to complete them and maintain accountability – as if you’re reporting to your ‘higher up’.

Begin this process by asking yourself: “What difference will I notice when I take these steps?” Then ask: “What difference will my boss/es notice when I take these steps?”

Establish ‘Triggers’ for Your Daily Habits

Twyla Tharp (born 1941) legendary dancer and choreographer, maintains an exacting routine designed to trick her mind into a daily exercise habit.

I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I workout for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.

It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it — makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.[4]

To do this list, create a trigger point – the smallest step you’ll do that will catapult you into taking action as Twyla Tharp did. What will be your ritual of ‘getting in the cab’?

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Get You to Talk About the Future

Melanie Perkins CEO of Canva, a thriving design and publishing solution, is known for ‘frequently talking about the future’.

Orienting your thoughts towards a future-focus reinforces how important your vision and goals are to you. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “You are what you think.”

  • Make it a habit to read your goals daily.
  • Think about what you’ll notice that will be different in your life when you achieve them.
  • Express your goals to someone important in your life.
  • Whisper them to yourself throughout your day.

Future-focused conversations (both with yourself and others) establish a pattern of expectancy, which continue fueling not only your desire but also the expectation of achieving it.

Manage Mental Resistance

When you begin with ‘hope’, you activate a sense of ‘expectancy’. A belief that what you want is not only possible, it’s within reach. Hope and expectancy are two powerful motivators in propelling you forward to a successful life.

When you’re ‘moving forward‘ with hope, you’re orienting yourself towards your desired future. When ‘moving away from‘ something you perceive as painful you’re activating ‘fear’, which can also be a strong motivator helping you avoid pain; for example, losing your job if your quarterly performance scores don’t improve.

Sarah, a manager at a busy merchandising company saw her doctor because she was feeling tired. After a thorough examination, the doctor advised Sarah to lose 15 kilos as this was contributing to her tiredness. The news felt overwhelming as Sarah worked long hours and rarely found time to shop for fresh food, so she relied on fast food to keep her going.

For Sarah, the doctor activated her fear by describing what could happen (heart attack and/or diabetes) if she didn’t manage her weight by shedding 15 kilos.

While ‘moving away from’ motivation can be successful, a way of amplifying positive motivators that will see Sarah begin ‘moving towards’ her goal is by talking about what outcomes Sarah would notice by losing 15 kilos.

For example, managing her weight may see Sarah being more efficient at work, getting out more socially, or feeling more able to manage work pressures and deadlines.

To do this with your own goal setting, think about what’s important to you about achieving your goals. Write down your answers. Ask: “What will you notice that will be different in your life when these changes happen?”

Summing It Up

Change is possible. Short-term goals that build upon each other are the stepping stones to achieving your best hopes.

Using your creative imagination by noticing the small differences occurring daily offers a positive way to create practical change in an easy and doable way.

Above all, make sure your goal is powered by ‘passionate desire’ so you achieve your desired outcomes.

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

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