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Published on June 4, 2020

How To Set Goals Effectively And Grow Continuously

How To Set Goals Effectively And Grow Continuously

One of the most vital productivity tools at your disposal is being able to set goals. Without goals, it’s difficult for you to be going in any direction. Not to mention, a lack of goals doesn’t put you in control of your life.

You may already know all of that, however, what you may not know is that not all goals are created equal. Setting goals is incredibly easy, but many people still struggle with setting goals effectively.

People are quick to think big, create vision boards, or use other goal-setting methods. However, a few weeks or months later, those people are not even close to their goals; some may have even given up.

I don’t want you to fall into that pitfall now or ever again. So, to help with that, I want to share with you some simple steps on how to set goals effectively and achieve them.

Why Do People Struggle With Goals?

To understand why I’m giving you these methods, you need to understand why you are stuck with goals in the first place. The list of why people struggle with goals is extensive.

In most situations, why people struggle with goals is to do with a lot of what’s going on inside you.[1]

Some specific examples are:

  • You harbor doubt in the goal or your abilities that the goal demands from you.
  • Your goals are too impotent – as in they’re not important enough.
  • There’s little risk of major setbacks if you give up or stop.
  • Maybe you view your goals as a final result rather than the start of something new. You’re not enjoying the process and lose motivation after some time.

The thing is that these issues can be remedied if you know how to set goals effectively.

How Do I Set Goals Effectively?

If you’re tired of setting goals and never achieving them or losing momentum, here are some steps on how to set goals effectively, make them realistic, and achieve them.

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Step 1 – Develop and Write Down Your Core Values

Also known as personal values, understanding what you value is important to goal setting. What you value the most is what structures your habits, processes, and the goals that you set.

When you’re not aligned with your core values, chances are you’re not motivated to achieve them at any capacity, even if those goals are inherently good for you like losing weight or being a better partner. If you don’t have core values in those areas, then chances are your willingness to improve isn’t going to be much.

And that’s okay. Because that often means you are more focused on other things that are more important to you. You won’t know what that is until you put together your core values.

There are many examples of core values. Some of these are:[2]

  • Authority
  • Competency
  • Determination
  • Leadership
  • Love
  • And many more

You can do this in two ways: either write your goals and find core values after or find core values you associate with and set goals around those.

Step 2 – Remove Weak Goals That Are ‘Good Enough’

What this refers to are the goals that make you feel good but aren’t driving you to pursue them.

One example is how most people use vision boards. People are quick to putting together a large vision board and filling it with all kinds of goals. While there is a feel-good feeling, a lot of it is filler and things that would be nice to have but aren’t actual needs. I’m referring to the massive houses and the “expensive cars”-type of goals.

These are good goals to have as it suggests making more money and working hard and smart financially. That said, they’re big distractions from the goals that play a bigger role in your life. Maybe you’re having relationship issues and one of your core values is to fix it and make amends however you can.

The more goals you have means the more opportunities there are for distractions. As much as goals are important, it’s key that you have a narrow focus on the goals that you set and a narrower one on goals that you are working on.

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One way to help you focus on goals is after you’ve written down your list, create another list. One list ought to have the five most important goals for you at this moment. The second list has any other goals that you may have or come to mind.

The list of five or fewer goals is your “must-do” list, while the other is the “avoid all of them” list. Instill in your mind to only focus on the most important goals.

Step 3 – Enjoy the Process

I mentioned earlier that goals aren’t the end, they are the beginning and it’s true. This particular step is crucial to completing goals as it provides the motivation you need to push forward.

When you are focused on the joy of the process, you also begin to believe more in yourself and your abilities. In a sense, your goals become fun which comes with various perks.[3]

While there are other big motivators to completing goals, the goal should be fun and something that you want to achieve. If it’s fun, you’ll find it easier to tackle problems.

For example, say you’ve experienced a setback and lost some of your momentum. Many people usually become fearful and worried. They begin to lose belief in their abilities.

All that changes when you are enjoying yourself. You see this as a new opportunity to look at something you enjoy from a different perspective.

In the end, a setback can introduce a new perspective to something you love doing. It creates a new appreciation for your goal and the habits you are building.

Step 4 – Have an Action Plan

Preparing yourself to enjoy the process is good. However, it pays to have more direction than simply writing down a goal. Writing down goals works wonders, but mapping out your goals is important too.

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The biggest thing is that an action plan allows you to break down your goals into smaller pieces. Often, people feel overwhelmed when looking at a big goal. Furthermore, people are more motivated if it’s a smaller task.

For example, what sounds easier to do: losing 25 pounds in three months or working out at the gym for three hours per week?

Most would go for the second option as it builds up habits. Best of all, you can put it into your action plan and schedule it into your routine.

In the end, an action plan can be made however you like, but it has to outline actions you can do every day. If you put down daily actions, it puts into perspective that goals are habits you work on regularly.

Step 5 – Have an Environment to Make Working Easier

Once you have everything in place, the next thing is to ensure that you have an environment that is conducive to you working on your goals. In some cases, you may need some productivity or organizational tools in your office, or maybe you need to find another location that works better for you.

Determine what needs to be done and take steps towards making it happen. Your environment needs to be geared towards the work that you want to be doing. This means having the proper tools there, posting positive reminders, and mitigating distractions as much as possible.

Step 6 – If You’re Stuck, Ask for Help

You are reading this article because you’re struggling with goals in some way and need help. And that’s okay. When you are stuck or you feel uncertain about something, it creates doubt and chips away at you.

Instead of caving in, you should make an effort to look for help. Refuse to give up and instead, turn to articles like this and others. Reach out to people and ask questions or guidance.

Many people refuse to do something like this as it could be a point of pride for them. That said, every person that has achieved something has been able to do so thanks in part to someone else in their life.

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If you want to achieve something, make a note that if you’re stuck, ask for help. Knowing how to set goals effectively also means knowing when to ask others for help.

Step 7 – Assess Progress Often

An action plan and your goals work only as effectively the more you check on yourself. If you’re not looking at your progress, it can feel like a long time before you obtain your goal.

Motivation and inspiration drive us to accomplish goals and by looking at your progress, you can see how far you’ve come. Furthermore, if progress isn’t to your liking, you can change up your action plan.

You can say that goals are one massive experiment on yourself. Don’t be afraid to make tweaks and see if any changes have been made.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to set goals effectively boils down to striking a balance between great goals and having the motivation to complete those goals. As such, you want to remove distractions both around you and your goal setting system.

A lot of people struggle with their goals, but this strategy of managing internal motivators and influencing your world around you will allow you to set and achieve better goals.

More Goals Setting Tips

Featured photo credit: Tim Graf via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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