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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

8 Simple and Effective Ways to Start Reaching Goals Today

8 Simple and Effective Ways to Start Reaching Goals Today

Do you ever feel like you reach for the stars and never seem to get the results you want? You aim high and hope for the best, but reaching goals never seems to happen, and you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong.

Goals are tough to achieve. Sometimes your goals are too vague, too broad, or just unrealistic. However, here’s the good news: you’re already ahead of most people just by setting goals. Now you need to tweak your approach, and you’ll make reaching goals easier.

Here are eight ways to get you going on the right path.

1. Set the Right Types of Goals

Ever heard of a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG)[1]? It’s a term coined by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, to describe a goal that’s strategic and emotion-driven. Collins advocates setting these types of goals because the traditional SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-driven) lack the emotional connection necessary for accomplishing big life goals.

A better approach, according to Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research company, is to form “HARD” goals[2]:

  • Heartfelt: Having an emotional attachment to your goal.
  • Animated: Motivated by a vision, picture, or movie in your mind.
  • Required: Goals need to feel so urgent and necessary that you have no other choice but to start acting on them immediately.
  • Difficult: Drag you out of your comfort zone, activating your senses and attention.

2. Map out Your Plan

It’s not enough to have a goal. You need an action plan to accomplish it, too. This is where many people fail.

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They set goals but don’t follow-up and create a plan with the important steps to get started. When this happens, big goals seem overwhelming, and you’re more likely to give up.

Create a road map to reach your goal. Plan one or two actions you can take each week, and focus on doing small things every day. For example, if your goal is to start a new business this year, this week you can choose a URL and do some research on building a WordPress website. The key is to break your goal down into smaller steps that are more achievable.

3. Visualize and Reflect

Social scientist Frank Niles, Ph.D., explains:

When we visualize an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells our neurons to “perform” the movement. This creates a new neural pathway—clusters of cells in our brain that work together to create memories or learned behaviors—that primes our body to act in a way consistent to what we imagined.[3]

When reaching goals, use creative visualization.

    Visualize yourself reaching your goals, including the process and work it will take to get there (this is important)[4]. Try to feel what it will be like once you reach those big accomplishments. This will form a lasting picture in your mind that will sustain your motivation over the long run.

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    4. Write Yourself a Letter

    I love this tip from John Carlton, the legendary copywriter. He says, “My trick to setting goals is very simple: I sit down and write myself a letter, dated exactly one year ahead.”[5]

    Carlton says you should write yourself a detailed letter describing your life one year from now. It’s a powerful technique and is another way to use visualization to map out your desired outcome in your mind. It’s also great fun to read it a year later to see if you’ve achieved what you had hoped.

    5. Take Action Every Day

    It doesn’t matter how much you learn if you don’t take action. Don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. The best way to learn is by doing and to embrace failureit’s the stepping stone to success for all successful people and their long-term goals.

    Everyday actions don’t have to be big. You simply need to take one small step in the right direction.

    If your goal is to eat healthier, pick up an apple instead of a cookie. If your goal is to start yoga, find a five-minute video that won’t overwhelm you with new poses. Any step you take is a good one.

    6. Tell Others

    Having to stay accountable to someone is a great motivator when you want to start reaching goals. Find someone to act as an accountability partner, and spend time explaining which goals or healthy habits you’re trying to work on. It could be your spouse, a friend, or a neighbor. You just need someone who will check in on how you’re doing with your goal.
    As a bonus, you’ll likely get valuable feedback from them along the way, even if you fail to reach a goal or milestone while goal setting. 

    7. Plan for Setbacks

    Being a good goal-setter is kind of like boxing; you need to learn to roll with the punches because you know you’re going to get hit. The best way to minimize the impact of setbacks is to plan for them. Have a contingency plan for when things go wrong, and be prepared to react and learn from those setbacks.

    Keep in mind that, while you may have created a timeline, you may need to tweak it later. Life is full of unforeseen complications. If you run into one, adjust your timeline without feeling negative about the change. It’ll only help you move forward in the end.

    8. Evaluate Your Progress Every Week

    Ask yourself: what did I do this week to get closer to my goal? What worked? What didn’t?

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    Consider using a journal to reflect on the progress you made (or didn’t). Check this journal each time you feel unsure of how to proceed.

    Don’t forget to celebrate your success, too. Allow yourself to bask in the success of a great week, and then get right back at it and check the next thing off your list. That’s how you’ll reach your ultimate goals.

    Find ways to celebrate your successes in this article.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s great to dream big, but that also means you need to plan big. The bigger your goal, the more organization and motivation it will require. If you’re prepared to put in the effort of making a step-by-step plan and following it to the best of your ability, set your sights high and get started.

    More Tips on Reaching Goals

    Featured photo credit: Kinga Cichewicz via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Scott Christ

    Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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    Last Updated on April 14, 2021

    What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

    What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

    As a track and field runner in school, every year I would sit down with my coach and set a series of goals for the season. Once we had set my goals for the year, we would create a training plan so I could achieve those targets. This helped me answer the main question here: “What are SMART goals?”

    Before I got a coach, I used to run aimlessly with no plan, no target races. More often than not, I would end up injured and find my season ending after achieving very little.

    Once I got a coach, though, I started winning races that mattered and began enjoying my sport. This annual process taught me from a very early age that goals are important if I want to achieve the things that are important to me.

    So what exactly are SMART goals? This article will talk about why goals matter, how to use SMART goals effectively with your time and resources, and how these goals give you a clear, specific plan that works time and time again.

    Why Do People Fail to Reach Their Goals?

    Setting SMART goals and achieving them

    is not easy, and many people fail. A study by Scranton University found that only 8% of those who set New Year goals actually achieve them, meaning 92% who set new year goals fail[1].

    The problem is that many people see goals, such as New Year resolutions, as hopes and wishes. They hope they will lose some weight, they wish to start their own business, or they hope to get a better job. The problem with “hoping” and “wishing” for something is that there is no plan, no purpose, and no time frame set for achieving the goals.

    Once these hopes and wishes come face-to-face with the realities of daily life, they soon dissolve into lost hopes and wishful thinking.

    Therefore, in order to really achieve something, you need a concrete goal: a SMART goal.

    What Are SMART Goals?

    The foundation of all successfully accomplished goals is the SMART goal.

    Originally conceived by George T. Doran in a 1981 paper[2], this formula has been used in various forms ever since.

    SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. It has been used by corporations and individuals to achieve their goals and objectives and is a formula that, on the whole, works well.

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    Use SMART goals to help you achieve more.

      The strength of SMART goals is that they set a clear path to achieving goals, and they have a clear time frame in which to achieve them. Let’s look at the SMART criteria in a little more detail:

      Specific

      For a goal to be achievable, it needs to have a very clear outcome. What you are asking is, “What exactly do I want to achieve?” The clearer the goal, the more likely it is you will achieve it.

      For example, if you just say “I want to lose weight,” then technically you could achieve your goal just by not eating dinner for one day—you would lose weight that way, even if it were temporary.

      You need to have a more specific goal: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

      Measurable

      To achieve anything, it’s important to have measurable goals. T

      ake the example above: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

      It’s measurable, as all you need do is weigh yourself on 1 January, then deduct twenty-pounds from that and set that weight as the target for 31 July. Then, each week you weigh yourself to measure progress.

      Attainable

      Being attainable means that SMART goals are realistic and that you have what you need in order to achieve them.

      In our example of losing weight, 20 pounds in six months is certainly doable. Your resources could include a gym membership, some at-home weights, or simply motivation to get outside and run everyday.

      If motivation is an area where you struggle, you can check out Lifehack’s Ultimate Worksheet for Instant Motivation Boost.

      Relevant

      For any goal to be achieved, you need to set relevant goals for your unique life.

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      If losing weight is doable with the lifestyle you have, and if you believe it will lead to a happier, healthier life, then it is certainly relevant to you. It’s even more relevant if your doctor has pointed out that you need to lose weight to prevent health issues.

      Time-based

      Finally, you need a timeline. All your goals need to have an end date because it creates a sense of urgency and gives you a deadline.

      In our example of losing twenty-pounds, a timeline of six months would be specific, measurable, relevant, and would have a timeline. Furthermore, as you have what you need to achieve that goal, it is attainable—all elements of the formula for SMART goals are included.

      How to Reach a SMART Goal

      The problem I have always found with the SMART goal formula is it does not take into account the human factor. We need motivation and a reason for achieving these goals.

      If you decide to lose twenty-pounds, for example, you are going to spend many months feeling hungry, and unless you possess superhuman mental strength, you are going to give in to the food temptations.

      All SMART goals can be distilled down to three words:

      • What do you want to achieve?
      • Why do you want to achieve it?
      • How are you going to achieve it?

      When you simplify your goal in this way, achieving it becomes much easier.

      1. Visualize What You Want

      One way to make your goals achievable is to visualize the end result. When you write out your mission statement, you should be imagining what it will be like once you have achieved the goal.

      In our weight loss example, you would close your eyes and imagine walking down from your hotel room in Ibiza in July with your towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, and swimwear on. You would imagine walking past all the other sunbathers and the feeling you have, the pride in the way you look and feel.

      Try to invoke as many of the five senses as you possibly can[3].

      2. Identify Your “Why”

      If you take losing twenty-pounds as an example, once you have made the decision that you want to do this, the next question to ask yourself is, “Why?” The more personal your why, the better.

      Your why could be, “Because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza this summer.” That is a strong why.

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      If your why is, “Because my doctor told me to lose some weight,” that is not a good why because it’s your doctor’s, not yours.

      One way to identify your “why” is to write your mission statement.

      To help with setting achievable SMART goals, when working with my clients, I always ask them to complete the following mission statement:

      I will [STATE GOAL CLEARLY] by [DATE YOU WANT TO COMPLETE THE GOAL] because [YOUR WHY].

      If you want to write a SMART goal for the weight loss example, your mission statement would be written: “I will lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza.”

      Never write a mission statement that is full of vague words. The words you use should be simple, direct, and clear.

      3. Figure out Your “How”

      Before you can begin achieving your goal, you need to create a list of steps you can take to make it happen.

      Write down everything you can think of that will help achieve your goal. It doesn’t matter what order you write these tasks down; what matters is that you write down as many action steps you can think of.

      I always aim for around one hundred small steps. This makes it much easier to assign tasks for each day that not only moves you forward on your goal, but also keeps you focused every day on achieving it.

      Once you have your list, you can create a to-do list for the goal and allocate the steps to different days so you create momentum towards a successful outcome.

      You can learn more about how to use SMART goals to achieve success and lasting change in this video:

      Bonus: Make a PACT

      There is one more part needed to really make sure you achieve the SMART goals you set for yourself, and that is something I call PACT. PACT is another acronym meaning Patience, Action, Consistency, and Time. You need all four of these to achieve goals.

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      Patience

      Without patience, you will give up. To achieve anything worthwhile requires patience. Success does not happen overnight. Be patient and enjoy the process of stepping a little closer towards achieving your goal each day.

      Action

      If you do not take action on any goal, then even SMART goals won’t be achieved. You need to make sure you remind yourself of your goal and why you want to achieve it each day. Read your mission statement, make an action plan, and then take the necessary action to make sure you move a step closer each day.

      Consistency

      The action you take each day towards achieving your goal needs to be consistent. You can’t follow your diet program for a week and then have three weeks off. Jim Rohn said it perfectly when he said:

      “Success is a few simple disciplines practised every day.”

      Time

      Of course, you need to allow enough time between where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Be realistic about time, and don’t get disheartened if you miss your deadline. Readjust your timeline if necessary.

      The Bottom Line

      The key to success is to put everything together. When you connect all of these elements, you create an environment where achieving SMART goals becomes much more attainable.

      Whether it’s personal or business goals, when you have a strong personal “why” for your goal, your motivation to keep going stays strong.

      Start with your “why,” and then get started on the action steps that will take you all the way to the end.

      More Tips on Reaching Your Goals

      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

      Reference

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