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Last Updated on November 5, 2018

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

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Carl Pullein

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

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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