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5 Ways to Set Your Goals in Stone

5 Ways to Set Your Goals in Stone

photo by mendhak

    Most of us set goals for our lives. Whether the goal is to climb Everest or to buy a pair of shoes, setting goals can sometimes seem like second nature to us. Even so, setting a goal doesn’t automatically mean getting the result. Sometimes goals are gradually forgotten about and fade away into the back of our minds.

    Motivation is the biggest goal killer. When we first set a goal, whether it’s to earn double what we earn now or achieve world domination, there is usually a reason behind that goal. People don’t jump out of bed with a goal out of the blue. There is a source of inspiration, something that has sparked our imagination. We usually see something, or read about something that makes us want our lives to change. There is an initial spark and we’re hit with a flood of motivation, and can’t wait to get started on this goal.

    After a few weeks or even days, our enthusiasm dies down, and that spark of inspiration becomes a memory. We know what the goal is, but we no longer have that passion burning inside us and our momentum grinds to a stop.

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    To achieve goals that take time, we need to stay motivated, and we need to keep the inspiration flowing. The goals need to be constantly in our minds. Unavoidable and present wherever we are. If we’re constantly reminded of our goals, they never go away. This constant reminder means that goals are always on our mind, and easier to achieve.

    As with most things, it’s better to keep this process simple. These are five suggestions that I use. They’re easy to do and don’t take much time, but the effects are obvious once you do them.

    I’m going to start with what I find to be the most effective method, and the rest of the list will be in descending order (so you get the best stuff first).

    1. Create a “vision board” or “board of dreams”.

    I found this method over at selfgrowth.com, and it always keeps me motivated. The idea is to get a notice board, and let your artistic side out. Create a shrine to what you want to achieve. Don’t just write a list. Stick up things that remind you of what it is that you want. Photos, gifts, memorabilia, letters, notes, pages from books. Anything that provides you with a reminder of that original inspiration. If you’re goal is to become wealthy, think of all the things that remind you of that goal. Houses, cars, yachts, people. The list is endless. Be creative: print a picture of the American Express Centurion card and stick that up until you can replace it with one of your own (you might have to phone American Express and say you lost your card to replace the one on the board). This board will engulf everything about your goal and show you all the reasons you want to achieve it.

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    Once done, stick it where you will see it most. I have mine facing my desk. Whenever I glance up from my monitor I see the board. When I’m feeling uninspired and ready to quit, a few minutes looking at my board, appreciating all the things that I want to achieve gives me that bit of inspiration needed to continue working.

    1. Photos (everywhere)

    Visual stimulation can be much more powerful than words. Seeing the words “Aston Martin Vanquish” doesn’t compare to seeing an Aston Martin Vanquish. Images are a source of great inspiration. A quick look at advertisements will show that the ones providing visual stimulation work better than the ones with only words. Seeing a sunset isn’t the same as reading about it, no matter how good the writer. Get photos of what you want to achieve and stick them everywhere you can. Pictures of the people that inspire you doing what they do best are great. Decorate your home with them, put them on your desktop background, put them on your cell phone background, have photos on your desk of things that represent your aims. The picture isn’t as important as the emotional connection to your goal that comes with it.

    Steve Pavlina suggests using digital photo frames. Digital photo frames allow you to have a slide show of images. Seeing these images will reinforce your desires, and remind you what you’re working towards.

    1. Leave notes (everywhere)

    As well as the photos, have notes dotted around the place. Write notes that explain the photo you have chosen. A photo of a mansion with a pool with a note saying “I am going to buy this house” will further reinforce your goal. The more unavoidable and obvious your goals are, the easier it becomes to remember what you are working for. Notes can be left anywhere. I leave notes on my desk, by my bed, on the refrigerator door, in the bathroom (although they tend to get wet). Write on your spouse’s face when they’re asleep if you want to (okay, don’t. This isn’t a good idea…).

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    1. Your most used applications

    What applications do you use most? The majority of applications that are used everyday will have some way of keeping a note, whether it was meant for that purpose or not. I’m an avid user of iGoogle and my iGoogle homepage displays my goals every time I log in. Microsoft Outlook can do the same. Firefox can (there are handy notes add-ons!). Even Windows can. Google’s Desktop sidebar lets you save notes so that they’re ready for you when you log in. Whatever application you use the most, have it remind you of your goals.

    1. Tell people (but be selective)

    Tell others about your goals. Tell the people that inspire you and will throw encouragement your way. The inspiring people in our lives will add to our momentum. Have a conversation about your goals often, don’t just tell other people and never mention them again. Remind others and talk about their goals as well as yours (don’t phone someone at 4am every morning to tell them about your goals, that doesn’t work either…). If your goals are well known and a regular talking point, you’ll never lose that inspiration.

    Staying motivated past the original spark of inspiration is not easy. It can take discipline and a strong will to keep working towards a long term goal, but at the very least we can make things easier.

    Remind yourself of the original moment you set your goal. The reasons you want to achieve that goal. The potential results of your hard work should be seen around your home or workplace.

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    Don’t stick to a list. Be creative, put effort into this and it will have a bigger impact on your life. Make a day of it and let the day become part of your memories. A day dedicated to decorating your house with reminders will stick with you longer than 10 minutes spent writing a list.

    I’ve used all the methods above, and I find the vision board to be the most effective. Spending a few hours creating a collage of what I want to achieve helped the whole idea of the goal sink in, and I got to spend some time going through each aspect of the goal this way.

    Hopefully with the above methods, you will find your goals become part of who you are, and you’ll find the journey to achieving them much easier.

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    Last Updated on November 15, 2019

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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