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6 Golden Rules to Make Progress Towards Achieving Goals

6 Golden Rules to Make Progress Towards Achieving Goals

Setting goals is the easy part. Achieving those goals is a whole different ball game and that is why so many people fail to accomplish their goals. This can lead to people never setting goals again because their confidence has been battered by their past experience.

But it does not have to be that way.

If you follow these golden rules, you will have a much greater chance of achieving goals you set out:

1. Don’t Set Too Many Goals

When we sit down to think about what we want to achieve, we often begin a list and start writing down all the things we want. And that is a great way to get yourself started.

The problem is we often end up with a long list of things we want to achieve, and it becomes very difficult to decide which ones are important and which ones are less important.

Instead, once you have written your list, set yourself some parameters. For example, I only allow myself five goals per year. This means I can give each goal total focus for two months.

Most goals, when you break them down, involve changing or developing a habit. For example, if you want to save $20,000 next year, you will need to change your spending habits. Spend less, save more.

But if you are in the habit of going out shopping every weekend or spend an inordinate amount of time on Amazon searching for the latest digital toy, you are going to have to stop doing that. Instead, you are going to have to familiarize yourself with your savings account. Then develop the habit of sending money to your savings account rather than Amazon’s account.

By allowing yourself two months to change the habit that needs changing, you are in with a much better chance than if you try to change several habits at once.

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Once your habit changes and it becomes natural for you, it’s time to move on to your next goal.

2. Find the Connections

When you have chosen your five goals, look for connections. Often when we set ourselves goals, there will be a natural connection between your goals.

Losing weight and getting fit is a good example, There are two goals there. Lose weight and get fit. The two naturally fit together so you can plan around that.

Earlier this year, I decided to join Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club. I had read so much about the benefits of waking up early and thought it would be a good thing to try.

I was not a morning person, and the thought of waking up at 5 AM scared me a little. I realized that this was going to be a very challenging goal. So at the beginning of June, I decided to begin. I gave myself two months to test it out and see if there were any benefits for me.

As I looked at my goals list, I also saw I had “to become fluent in Korean”. So I saw an opportunity to achieve both goals. Then I had a reason to wake up early, I could use the hour between 5 AM and 6 AM to study Korean.

Well, the first week was hell. I felt tired in the afternoons and just wanted to curl up on the sofa and sleep. But I persisted. I knew it would not take long for my body to readjust to the new time frame.

By the end of the first week though, it was much easier. By the end of the second week, I was beginning to look forward to that quiet hour of study. And now, I don’t even think about it and it has become my favourite part of the day.

Not only do I now wake up at 5 AM, I am also doing quite well with my Korean studying too.

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On my list of goals, I had “start meditating” too. I realized I could add that to my morning routine. So now, I study Korean from 5 AM to 5:45 AM and I then do fifteen minutes of meditation. I have linked three goals I set for the year together and after five months practising this, these goals have become deeply ingrained habits.

3. Set Weekly Objectives

In my experience, the hardest part about achieving goals is staying focused on them. After we have planned out what we want to achieve, become motivated and determined, we then come face to face with the daily crises and problems that get thrown up at us. When that happens, it can be hard to stay focused on our goals.

To overcome this, spend some time each week and set one or two objectives that will take you closer towards achieving your goal.

For example, if your goal is to get fit and lose weight, each week set the number of times you will exercise and how much weight you want to lose. If your goal is to save $20,000 in the next year, set the objective to save $385 that week (or not spend $385 that week).

Breaking your goals down into bite-size objectives like this helps to keep you focused on the process. In the end, it’s the process that will take you closer to achieving your goals each week.

4. Write Your Goals Down

As David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, says,

“Your brain is a terrible office.”

That means your brain is terrible at remembering things. Get your goals written down.

Writing down your goals gives you a reminder. But the key to writing down your goals is:

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Write them down in a place you will see them regularly.

It’s no good writing out your goals on a piece of paper only for that piece of paper to disappear under a mountain of other bits of paper after a few days. Instead, if you keep a journal or diary, write out your goals in your journal. If you use a digital notes app, write your goals in there and pin them to the top of your notes list.

I keep a written journal on my desk at all times. I record what I do each day, what my objectives for the day are and what I will be focused on for the day.

At the front of my journal, I write out my goals for the year. Each year, I go through three or four journals and so I write out my goals three or four times each year.

Every time I write out my five goals for the year, it reinforces my commitment to my goals and creates a great way to hold myself accountable to my goals.

5. Review Your Goals Weekly, Not Daily

When you read through your goals every day, you soon become numb to them. You begin to just go through the motion of reading through a list and that list soon stops having any meaningful impact.

Instead, take some time out on a Sunday for reflection. Reflect on what you have accomplished that week and how you are doing on your goals. Analyze where you are weak, where you gave in to temptation and where you failed. Then, create a plan to make sure the same thing does not happen the following week and set yourself one or two objectives to accomplish.

This way, your goals remain meaningful to you. You are setting yourself achievable mini-goals each week that will take you closer towards achieving your overall goals.

I make reviewing my goals and objectives a part of my weekly review. It does not take long—usually ten minutes—but that time is what keeps me focused on what I want to accomplish. It reinforces what I am trying to achieve and why.

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6. Have a Strong “Why”

A goal without a purpose is a weak goal. You need to know why you want to accomplish the goal.

Now your “why” is personal and often can be quite embarrassing if you explained it to another person. The important thing is the reason why you want to achieve your goal needs to be YOUR reason, and not because someone else says it’s a good idea.

If you are a smoker and you visit the doctor for a checkup, and your doctor says you should give up smoking for your long-term health, whilst true, that is not your “why”. You may enjoy smoking and not care about the long-term consequences, in which case that “why” is weak.

The same applies to losing weight. You might be perfectly happy with your weight as it is. If someone comes along and says you should lose weight, that is not your “why”.

Your “why” needs to be personal and needs to have some kind of emotional connection to what you want. “I want to lose weight so I look fantastic at the beach” is a good personal “why”. I’ve found the more embarrassing it is to tell someone your “why”, the stronger the “why” is.

If you haven’t found your “why” yet, this guide can help you.

The Bottom Line

Goals are important in life because they give you a sense of purpose; and a sense of purpose gives you a reason to wake up in the morning with energy and enthusiasm.

Purpose gets you through difficult days and contributes to your overall happiness and wellbeing.

Take these six golden rules to setting goals and you will soon find yourself achieve far more than you could ever have dreamed of. Good luck!

Featured photo credit: Xan Griffin via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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