I have always wanted to do better. Everyone I know ever wanted to do better. Better finances, looks, physique, health, happiness, relationships – we all want an improved version of all that is good and beneficial. So periodically – especially at the beginning of a new year- we set out, pen in hand, to articulate all that we must do in the future to attain our individual life goals of becoming better.
However, most times, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves sliding back into the comfort of our old ways. The gym visits taper off, we forget to wake up by 5 am, we go back to working late at the expense of family time, the burger gets bigger and greasier, and so on.
Of course, there are no shortages of excuses for our inability to stick to our life goals for the long haul. And with our downcast spirits lifted somewhat with these justifications (after all, we are human), we promise ourselves to try again. Once more.
But what if there are proven strategies that make sticking to your goals as easy as writing them down? If you’ve battled with keeping the weight off or saving more money or quitting porn, don’t give up yet.
Here, I’ve curated for you, proven ways you can set goals and stick – barnacle-like – to them.
12 Practical Ways to Achieve Your Life Goals
1. Your life goals must be realistic
When you are all fired up, and dizzy headed with motivation, it’s so easy to aspire to terrifying heights. But when it comes to the actual climbing, the sheer size of the mountain before you may so discourage you that you quit right away.
Setting goals that are way out of your reach is a sure way to give it up without even getting started. So, you promised to write 10,000 words daily despite holding down a regular 9-to-5 and cleaning up after 2 toddlers.? The impracticality of this goal may not appear immediately to you. But when you first try and only manage to put down 300 words before your eyes start to close, you’ll begin to doubt yourself. Frustration and anger will set in culminating with you closing the word processor in defeat.
The fault is not in your lack of mental toughness or discipline. You simply were not realistic about what you intended to achieve. While it’s good to dream big when setting goals, start with what is within your reach.
You must be sure that achieving the set goals will fit in with your present realities. That you can find enough time to dedicate to said goal. If your schedule is at odds with it, it may be impossible to make significant progress.
2. Set goals with SMART
For you to have a chance of sticking to your goals long enough to attain them, experts recommend you set your goals using the “SMART” method. SMART is a mnemonic/acronym which captures this system succinctly. According to Psychologist John Norcross, who developed the process, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-specific.
- Specific: be clear as to what you set out to achieve and how you intend to go about it
- Measurable: your objectives should have a quantifiable metric. How far along are you on its accomplishment?
- Achievable: setting goals too far above your reach is the quickest way to get discouraged and quit.
- Realistic: your goals should be in line with your purposes and totally doable.
- Time-specific: there should be a definite timeline. Having an end date gives you the needed urgency to stick with your goals.
All these criteria combine to help you set goals and channel your energy into sticking with and ultimately crushing them.
3. Write them down
According to a study by researchers at the Dominican University of California, writing down goals, sharing them with a friend, and regularly updating them increases the chances of successfully achieving them by as much as 33%.
Writing down your goals helps you become clear on what you wish to achieve. Asides from providing a visual reminder, writing helps to encode the goals in your brain – we tend to remember more, things we write down.
Writing down your goals is also motivating. Seeing it in writing creates a sense of urgency, which prompts you to take the necessary actions.
4. Create mental pictures or visualize
With your goals safely captured and stored on paper (or pixels), the next thing to do is to picture yourself getting there. Visualize all the steps to take to achieve the specific goals. And even better, feel the euphoria and emotions that come with accomplishing each goal.
Visualization is a technique with excellent results if done frequently and correctly. Your mind powerfully but gently pulls and guides your body and your will to whatever it wants to be achieved.
Living without goals is pointless and drab – a game of soccer with 22 players chasing a ball around a field with no goalposts.
4. Go public
Tell people in your network about your goals and what you are doing about them. Engage them in ways they can help you achieve your goals. This creates a sense of accountability, which makes sticking to your goals easier. You’ll feel responsible for ensuring you see your goals to the end. You wouldn’t want to let down those who’ve been cheering you on.
You can also join groups of like-minded people with the same objectives. This way, you’ll hold each other accountable, and you’ll never run out of motivation to stick with your goals. Say you aim to write a novel, joining NaNoWriMo or other online and offline groups of writers will often encourage you to get it done.
6. Break down your goals
Taking on a big audacious goal can be daunting. Consider breaking it down into smaller tasks. The smaller portions of the goals will appear easier to achieve, which increases your motivation to tackle them. Each completed milestone gives you a confidence boost that will help conquer the next one. Breaking up goals and dealing with them one after the other will have you accomplishing the whole with ease.
It’s cool to have a big goal to strive towards, but it’s often intimidating when taken as a whole. When you break down your goals into chunks of tasks, what initially seemed impossible becomes a sequence of achievable small steps.
7. Monitor your progress
Change is never easy and often takes time. One of the primary reasons people give up on their goals is the frustration of failing to get the expected results overnight. However, if you take time out and look at where you are currently vs. where you started from, you’ll be elated to see that there’s a difference – no matter how small.
This evidence of progress makes you realize that your efforts have not been in vain. As a result, you’ll want to continue striving to get more accomplished. It helps to document your progress by taking pictures or journaling so that you can easily monitor your progress.
8. Reward your accomplishments
When you complete a task or milestone within your larger goal, find a way to reward yourself. Lost 5 pounds out of your target 15 pounds? Time to splurge on a giant cheesy pizza. This way, you recognize and appreciate the hard work you have put in. It will encourage you to continue so you’ll benefit from the greater reward of achieving your goal in the future.
Rewards are also a way of gratifying your progress, which adds a fun factor to your goal setting and achievement.
9. Don’t forget your “Why.”
When it gets hard, and all you want to do is quit, remind yourself why you decided to go on that path in the first place. What is the one compelling reason that drove you to attempt the objectives you set for yourself?
When you find it, your deepest “why” contains the emotional elements that will help you stay the course. So when your motivation starts to flag, remind yourself of your reasons “why” and you’ll get the needed strength to keep on pushing.
10. Block time each day for your goals
Whatever your goals are, you’ll need time to work on them. Set aside a fixed amount of time each day – preferably at the same time daily – for each goal.
For example, to read your target 5 books every month, you can get up by 5 am and read for 30 minutes daily and unfailingly.
Reading at any time of the day whenever an opportunity presents, signals a half-hearted commitment to your goals.
And there’s a high probability that life will get in the way and you may never get around to it the whole day. Therefore, you must be intentional about your goals to stand a chance of seeing them through.
11. Make it a habit
When you block out time daily for tasks that will advance your goals, and consistently execute them, the repetition will, in due time, solidify it into a habit.
Researchers on the subject of habits concluded that it takes from 18 to 254 days to create a habit. So, keep up with daily practices until it becomes automatic. That is great for sticking to your goals because habits do not require willpower. It’s much easier to get things done when it doesn’t feel like work.
12. Go digital
As previously stated here, writing down your goals goes a long way in helping you achieve them. Fortunately, there are goal tracking apps that not only lets you record your goals but also track them and provide feedback on how you can step up your game. This is a terrific way to stick to your goals, especially if you are a digital native or millennial who seek an app for everything under the sun. Some of these apps includeGoalsOnTrack, stickK,HabitBull, LifeTick, and Habit List.
In this game of life, goals are super important if you are going to get anything done. They provide a sense of purpose and drive that gives life meaning. However, setting your life goals and sticking to them doesn’t have to be tougher than Fermat’s last theorem. Put these tips into practice and see yourself achieving more and crushing your most ambitious goals.
This post originally appeared on Moneylogue.com