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How to Set Goals: 10 Steps to Stay Focused

How to Set Goals: 10 Steps to Stay Focused

For most people, creating goals is easy! The execution and application is the struggle. As Diana Scharf Hunt says, “Goals are just dreams with a deadline!” Everyone has dreams, but successful people turn them into goals that they accomplish. In order to ensure you reach the finish line with your goals achieved, here are 10 steps to help you move from dreamer to doer.

1. Utilize the SMART Goal Approach

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle

SMART goals have been utilized for years, because they work. Make sure your goals are:

Specific:

A specific goal will usually answer the five Ws (What, Why, Who, Where, and Which). Writing specific objectives fleshes out your goal so you can easily identify what you want to accomplish.

Measurable:

If your goal isn’t measurable, there will be no way to know if you’re making progress. You need to address the question, “How will I know when this is accomplished?”

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Attainable:

Your goal must be something that you can realistically attain. I would love to fly like a bird by jumping off a cliff with no parachute, but gravity would have the last word in that interaction. However, learning to jump off a cliff with a hang glider is more realistic.

Relevant:

If your goal doesn’t mean anything to you, then it isn’t worth pursuing. Tie your goals to your deeper values to give them more meaning. Make sure you are behind the goal 100% so you stay motivated to achieve it.

Time Bound:

You need to have a deadline. Otherwise it’s just a dream that never becomes reality. Putting down a deadline makes you more committed to bringing it to fruition.

2. Write your goals down and display them!

I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.” – Chinese Proverb

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A large portion of your goal is already accomplished as soon as you write it down. A study showed that among people who wrote down their goals with actionable commitments that they put into weekly progress reports and shared with friends, 76% accomplished them. This is in comparison to a control group who were just asked to think about their goals. In this group, only 43% accomplished their objectives. Writing down your goals makes them real; they are tangible words on paper, not an ethereal dream in your mind.

3. Break big goals into smaller ones!

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    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

    It’s the same for big goals! Break them down into manageable weekly and daily actionable bites. If you don’t, you can sometimes lose motivation if the goal seems far away or too big to accomplish.

    4. Make an action plan and follow it!

    If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

    The best gift you can give yourself is a well thought-out action plan. Take time to organize all of your smaller daily and weekly goals in one place so you can easily check your progress or send it to others to hold you accountable.

    5. Do your goals as early in the day as possible!

    The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years.” – Thomas Jefferson

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    If you study successful people, you will find that most of the time they do more before the sun rises than the rest of the world does in a day. Get your goals done first thing in the morning to feel like you’ve started your day right. That way, you will always find time to do them.

    6. Tell others your goals to keep you accountable!

    Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Steven R. Covey

    When you know someone is going to check your progress, it lights a fire under you to follow through. Find a good friend or mentor who will take on the role of motivator and occasional butt-kicker. You will come to value this service immensely when you see your efficiency and effectiveness improve.

    7. Make sure your goals excite you!

    “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” – Albert Einstein

    Your goals should be a source of joy in your life. They should be one of the main reasons you get out of bed in the morning. If your goals don’t excite you, then you need to re-evaluate them.

    8. Use positive language in your goals!

    “The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.” – Jim Rohn

    Setting and accomplishing your goals changes you. You become a positive person who is more excited about life. Make sure your goals reflect this. Don’t say, “My goal is not to mess up today.” Instead your goal could say, “My goal is to excel today in my career by doing X, Y, and Z.” Do you see the language difference? No one can get passionate about going through the day trying to avoid something negative. Instead, turn it around so you spend your day chasing and catching success.

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    9. Set goals in multiple life areas!

    “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

    Don’t just reserve your goals for your career. You should challenge yourself to set fitness goals, finance goals, family goals, relationships goals, educational goals, spiritual goals, health goals, and adventure goals. Every area of your life that you value should have a goal to help you improve upon it.

    10. Set performance vs. outcome goals!

    “The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.” – Jim Rohn

    Many things are outside your control. For example, you may have an adventure goal to climb Mount Everest. You follow an action plan and train daily. You reach the moment when you are ready to ascend the mountain’s icy slopes with your team. Suddenly, a huge storm turns you back. The weather was out of your sphere of influence. You met all of your performance goals. Just because the outcome didn’t happen this time does not mean you failed. You were prepared. Life just happened and you weren’t able to climb the mountain – this time. However, regardless of the outcome, you became the person who could climb your mountain should life open the door. That’s the deeper endeavor. When you set your goals, don’t say, “My goal is to climb Mt. Everest by January 2014.” Instead, say, “My goal is to be completely prepared to climb Mt. Everest by January 2014, and to do all that is within my power to reach the top.” The first goal is only attainable if everything works in your favor. The second goal is completely attainable, as it depends solely on you.

    “In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.” – Henry David Thoreau

    So what are you aiming for? If your answer is nothing, then you probably won’t like what you get out of this life. Instead of simply drifting along reacting to what life brings you, take proactive steps to go out and create the future you want. While we can’t control everything that happens to us, we can control ourselves by following goals that bring out our passion for life.

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    Last Updated on June 22, 2018

    How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

    How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

    Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

    By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

    This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

    Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

    1. Consider consolidating multiple credit cards if possible

    This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

    It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

    Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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    Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

    My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

    Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

    2. Try to pay the full balance you spent each month at the very least

    You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

    Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

    If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

    3. Pay extra when you can – every small amount counts

    This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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    It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

    4. Create a plan on how to pay extra

    Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

    This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

    For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

    Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

    5. Cut out costs for services you do not use

    If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

    In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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    6. Get aggressive about it

    Consider these points:

    Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

    Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

    Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

    Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

    7. Reevaluate your progress at set intervals

    Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

    By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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    Finally (and most importantly)…

    8. Keep trying

    Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

    Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

    Start knocking out your debt today

    The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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