Goal setting is really important. It’s like giving yourself a destination and a road map to get you there. If you don’t have goals, something you want to achieve, then you’ll just end up drifting day to day and before you know it life has passed you by.
Goals can really get you juiced, give you an incentive to take action and make positive changes in your life. Goals can be short, medium and long term. Indeed we should have goals for the next week, month and year. In fact, in Japan most companies set goals for 100 years or more! The more precise your goals are the better. Our brains work best with clear, concise instructions. I’d suggest that you set goals for different areas of your life, health, finances, relationships, etc.
Don’t just set goals on New Years Day. Why not make the first day of each month a day to review your goals? You could review how you got on with the goals you set for the previous month and decide if you need to fine tune your goals or the action needed to achieve them.
When you set goals you activate a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It acts a bit like radar in that it will start to pick up on opportunities that will assist you in achieving your goal. Visualizing your end result will help to activate your RAS and keep you moving toward your goals.
10 Keys To Successful Goal Setting (And Achieving!)
Go through this process and write down your answer to each point.
1. Choose Your Goal!
Make it a smart goal. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.
A goal of “losing weight” or “get fitter” is not a smart goal. You need to write down exactly what you intend to achieve i.e. I intend to lose 3kg in weight within the next 4 weeks. Do you believe that it is possible for you to achieve this goal? If not, do you need to change any of the parameters you’ve defined? For instance if you’d written I intend to lose 8kg weight within the next 4 weeks, that’s not really realistic. If you don’t believe you can achieve the goal, then I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t.
2. What Will It Take To Achieve Your Goal?
Write down everything that’s needed to make achieving this goal happen. “Eat less” is not acceptable – because it’s not nearly specific enough!
Do you need to join a slimming club, overhaul your larder and your fridge and throw out all the junk food? Do you need to buy a new recipe book? Do you need to shop for more healthy food? Do you need to enlist the help of a support buddy? Do you need to menu plan for the week? You’ve set your destination in question 1. This question is about telling your brain how you’re going to get there.
3. What Would Achieving Your Goal Give You?
Take a minute to think through and record every possible benefit you’d experience when you achieve your goal. Here you can really go to town and record every possible benefit from achieving your goal to act as an incentive. (You want to associate masses of pleasure with achieving your goal because people move toward pleasure and avoid pain).
You might write something like,
“Losing 3kg in weight would mean I’d drop a dress size and fit into some of the clothes I’ve not been able to wear in a while. I’d feel more confident about myself and my ability to control my eating. When I lose that first 3kg it will give me the incentive to carry on and get down to my ideal weight. If I do that, I can throw away all the clothes that will be too big for me and re-stock my wardrobe with fashionable, attractive clothes. I’ll feel more confident about being naked and less inhibited in bed, so my sex life will improve. Long term, I know I’ll be healthier and have more energy to play sport and be more active with my kids.”
4. Avoid Any Negatives
Would there be any possible negative consequence to your achieving your goal? If so, what would it be? How will you deal with it? Is it something you can control or influence?
5. What’s The Best Failing Outcome?
If you don’t achieve this goal, what’s the best possible outcome you could expect to experience? Using the weight loss example, it might be that your best possible outcome would be to remain at the weight you are now.
6. What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
If you don’t achieve this goal, what’s the worst possible outcome you could expect to experience? Again, using the weight loss example, it might be that you’d continue to eat badly and put on more weight, become very unhealthy, get diabetes, feel depressed, worthless, lose all confidence in yourself, sex becomes non-existent, never bother setting goals again and give up totally on life. I realize that this might sound a bit extreme, but questions 4 and 5 are aimed at making you associate massive amounts of pain with not achieving your goal.
7. Anticipate Obstacles Ahead Of Time
What might get in the way of you achieving this goal? I want you to be realistic about this. If achieving this goal was easy, you’d have done it by now. There’s always something that could, potentially get in the way. You need to know what it is now and…
8. Plan To Overcome All Obstacles
How will you deal with any obstacles? Are there any resources or any help that you need? Plan now for how you’re going to deal with anything that could sabotage you achieving your goal. If the girls in the office buy cakes every Friday afternoon or offer biscuits with tea or coffee then you need to get their co-operation. Ask them to get you a fruit salad instead of cakes or biscuits.
9. Anticipate And Feel Your Success
How will you feel when you achieve this goal? I don’t want you to just feel “good”, let’s have you feeling elated, proud of yourself etc… I want you to look forward to experiencing a positive emotion on achieving your goal.
10. Expect Miracles!
How will achieving this goal spill over to positively influence other areas of your life? It’s amazing how achieving even small goals can make a difference in your life. It’s a bit like a snowball effect. The more you achieve, the better you feel about yourself and that has a ripple effect throughout your life. So, take a moment now to think about how achieving this goal is going to positively “ripple” through every aspect of your life.