We all set out to attain admirable goals and dreams each year but as the year draws to a close we are often disappointed. We wistfully remember our goal list (if we’ve even made a list!) and wonder why we haven’t accomplished them. I know, because I have been there. We start out madly motivated to reach our fantastic goal and sometimes actually believe that “this will be my year.” But somehow the months roll by, and then another year has passed and we are still in the same place we started. No progress and no goal.
A Realistic Appraisal
The fact is that we only have so much time and energy in any one day. Many people make goals that would require Herculean efforts to accomplish. Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire in the next six months? And who doesn’t (if they are overweight) want to lose 20 pounds for that big event in six weeks?
The problem is that the goals that we set were not realistic in the first place. And then when we don’t achieve them, we can become disheartened and give up. Now don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been people who have become millionaires in less than six months. And there are definitely people who have dropped 20 pounds in six weeks. If you are one of those then you don’t need this article. However, every person is different. Each of us has to do a realistic appraisal of who we are and our life circumstances before setting our goals.
Take for example a mom who has just had a baby. She may want to drop some baby weight and in the past, her gym regimen has always helped her achieve her goal. However, it may not be realistic to set the same goal in the same time-frame that you did before the baby because now getting out to the gym is not as easy as it used to be. Or let’s say someone wants to start their own business and leave their job. If you decide that you want to completely replace your income within a year, you also have to determine if this is realistic. Is the amount of income you want to replace conceivable in the time frame for the business that you want to start?
The last thing that I want to do is discourage anyone from setting goals. Goals are a fantastic way of bettering our lives and accomplishing our dreams. However, many people fall short of their goals because they have not carefully made an assessment of their current life and lifestyle before they set their goals.
Making it Happen
You can accomplish your goals! And you can start today! And it can be stunningly simple. Here’s how:
Start by writing down your goals. According to Forbes Magazine, Gail Matthews of Dominican University did an interesting study. She found that people who write down their goals achieve significantly more than those that don’t! It seems that the act of writing actually helps one achieve more. However, writing our goals should not take be an agonizingly time-consuming process. Matt Mayberry of Entrepreneur tells us that we should write our goals in no more than 3 minutes! The reason for this is that we shouldn’t let any negative thoughts of what we won’t be able to do, dissuade us from setting our goals.
Now the next step is what sets those that accomplish their goals apart from those that don’t. What is it? Breaking down that goal into all the actionable little chunks that you will need to do to accomplish your goal. This is what sets the achievers apart from the underachievers. It is the recognition that one goal requires multiple steps. Tom Ferris, entrepreneur par excellence, believes in setting easily attainable goals. This means that when we set out to achieve goals, we should break them down into many steps and make each step small and easily attainable.
Making Attainable Goals
So what is an attainable goal? When we make a goal, we not only need to think about all of the possible steps that we need to take to attain that goal. We also have to do it in a way that takes the pressure off. Given that I have all of these responsibilities, commitments, etc. each day, how much time will I really have to work on my goal? I may have two hours a day or I may have ten minutes. However, if I have broken my goals down into small accomplishable steps, I can plan to achieve a realistic amount each day without stepping into overwhelm, which may cause me to jump off the boat.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish a realistic goal is by using a planner. If I have written down all of the steps and want to map out a certain amount of steps each day there is nothing better than having a planner. Using A planner will remind you to take the next step and will keep you from getting distracted. You will remember that today the next easy step needs to be worked into the time that you have set for yourself.
There are many planners available in numerous shapes and sizes. I like the printable Slay Your Goals planner that you can reprint as many times as you like. Since it is date-free you can use it year after year. In addition, it has motivational and guiding prompts to keep you on the path. Dividing your goal into one day at a time chunks actually helps you to achieve the goals you set. You will look back and say, “how was I able to achieve so much?”
Hold Yourself Accountable
Our goals are personal and not necessarily something we want to share with anyone (other than our planner). However, if I tell a trusted friend about my goals he/she can help me to remain accountable. Let a close friend, a spouse, a trusted colleague know what you are working to accomplish. You can set the parameters. You can ask for a weekly check-in so that you briefly discuss your weekly progress or you can just plan brainstorming sessions every so often. The point is that when we put our ideas out there and others know about them, we get that extra push to accomplish our goals.
By keeping my goals to myself I can excuse inaction. I can say, “Oh I’ll get started next month, or after this project is finished, or after New Years.” Without anyone to hold me accountable I can continue to make excuses. If I know that someone is interested in my progress, I will not want to let him/her down.
You Can Do It!
Our dreams can become reality with the above tips. Whether we can accomplish them will depend on our realistic assessment of our unique situations. A goal accomplished over the long term is a goal accomplished with the satisfaction that comes with it. We all have important obligations in our lives. With thought and planning, we can work towards our goals even when we are very busy and very committed. Let us know how these tips have helped you to accomplish your goals and please share this article with your friends!