Figuring out how to set and accomplish a goal effectively can be a little confusing, especially with all the available options and techniques. In today’s guide, I will break down the task and make things easier for you. These are some of the same strategies I’ve used to lose 40 pounds and build a website, so you can rest assured that they have been tested.
Ready to dive in? Let’s go!
Why Goals Are Important
Goals are important because they help keep you motivated, distraction-free, and focused on your long-term plan. A recent study has shown that students with a challenging goal are 250% faster than students without one. This is because people are more likely to complete tasks when they know what they are doing and are organized.
How often have you tried to tackle an enormous task without a plan? Think of running a marathon. Could you just go outside and complete one without any prior training? Most likely not.
This is why you would want to break down the process into many steps. Some of these steps could include running a mile, increasing your speed, running your first 5K, running your first 10K, and so on.
Instead of tackling a new task head-on, figure out what smaller steps are going to help you complete your primary goal. This will make things a lot less complicated.
Another important thing with goals is that they hold you accountable and track your success. Succeeding in anything is tough without following your progress. Think of how video games make use of a high score. Why do they use them? Because they give you a sense of fulfillment when beating your old score. Goals will work the same way. You’ll always feel accomplished and motivated to do more upon completing them.
Most importantly, having goals help you carve out the action steps you are willing to take to reach success. Doing anything without a plan of action will almost always result in failure. Success does not happen overnight, but having a strategy for achieving success will make the process seem far less daunting.
You’ll be able to check off a task daily if you plan accordingly, and this will give you a sense of accomplishment each and every day. This will keep you motivated to keep going forward for months, and possibly years to come.
How to Set Attainable Goals
Now that you understand the importance of goals, you may be wondering how to set them effectively. Not only do you need to set goals, but you also need to make them attainable. There’s a big difference between attainable and “silly” goals.
Silly goals are impossible to complete no matter how talented you are or how much work you are willing to do. Anyone can claim he or she is going to work towards building the next Apple computer and becoming rich in 3 days. These two examples are a little extreme, but I’ve seen similar types of claims in real-life.
Not only are they physically impossible to complete, but they also come with the risk of discouragement when they do not pan out.
Time and time again, people set with for the goal of losing 10+ pounds in a week. They’ll stick at it for a few days and eventually give up when they find out that it does not work. If they had realistic expectations, then they probably wouldn’t quit so easily and realize that they can lose weight, just not quickly.
Here are 4 key tips for setting attainable goals:
1. Start Small
Do not make impossible goals like “I want to become Arnold Schwarzenegger in a few months” or “I want to become a millionaire in two weeks using this new program I found on the internet.” These are huge tasks, and they are impossible to finish in such a short amount of time. Yes, it is possible for anyone to become a millionaire, just not in two weeks. When setting goals, be realistic. For example, if you were trying to make a living on the internet, you would have to go for the small steps first. These include building your website, starting a blog, creating a social media presence, and finding training.
2. Create Companion Goals
Once you have a primary objective (e.g. losing 100 pounds, making a living online, becoming a professional athlete), figure out what smaller goals you are going to use to help you accomplish it. For me, losing weight involved many smaller tasks. They included eating healthier foods, working out 5-6 times a week, tracking my calories each day, and following a consistent weight lifting plan. All of these tasks contributed to my one big goal.
3. Don’t Create too Many
Try to start with a few goals at a time. You do not want to overwhelm yourself as this will only result in you getting overwhelmed and giving up. It is fine to start small; don’t rush to get things done in a short amount of time (unless it is required for a college essay or something). Even the smallest goals will have a snowball effect.
Having trouble coming up with goals? That is fine. Give brainstorming a try! What you’ll need to do is set a timer and write down as many goals as you can within the allotted time. These goals can be anything, whether it is for a business, essay, job-related task, sport, or even a hobby.
When setting goals, make sure they are concise and to the point. There’s nothing worse than a vague goal.
To emphasize, which do you think sounds better?
- I plan on losing some weight, but I am not sure how I am going to do it.
- I plan on losing 50 pounds, and I am going to do it by counting calories each day, working out five days a week, and making better food choices.
Most people would opt for #2. It is clear, to the point, and easy to follow. What I would recommend is finding your primary goals first and then proceeding to find 3-6+ companion goals.
How to Accomplish a Goal
Now that you’ve figured out your goals. You may be wondering, “what good are they if I cannot do them?” This is where most people become stumped. There are hundreds of ways for you to finish your goals and succeed, but finding the right one for yourself can be tricky. Don’t worry; I am going to show you 6 ways to accomplish a goal!
1. Track Your Goals
This is the most important way to accomplish a goal. Track your goals so that you can watch your success. Write them down, print them out, save them in a notepad on your desktop, and do anything else that prevents you from forgetting about them.
2. Use an app
The world is becoming more mobile every day. Why not take advantage of this? There are many note-taking apps for mobile phones. Make sure to take advantage of these, especially if you are a frequent smartphone user. One small thing I would like to recommend is to use an app that syncs across your mobile devices and desktop. This will make things 10x easier when switching between platforms throughout your day.
3. Find a Way to Avoid Distractions
One of the main reasons people fail to reach their goals is due to distractions. One way to avoid them is by setting timers for yourself, blocking websites, and correctly managing your day.
4. Hold Yourself Accountable
Keep track of everything you do and keep a checklist. Tell your friends and family about your plans, or announce it to the world via your blog. Set yourself a specific deadline and get it done.
5. Take Breaks, but Not too Many
Sometimes we get burnt out. This is fine as long as we do not let it discourage us. People commonly say they’ve “fallen off the wagon” and choose to give up. When this happens, instead of quitting, it is best to forget about it and move on right away. There’s nothing you can do to change your past, so fretting over it is a waste of time. The best thing to do after missing a day is to immediately start again.
6. Build Better Habits
Get in the habit of working hard to accomplish a goal. You’ll find that things become easier once you do them for a couple of weeks. You’ll eventually get to the point where these habits are second-nature, and you’ll start wanting to complete them rather than not.
These are just a few tips out of many for helping you succeed with your goals. As you progress, you may find some new tips of your own! Accomplishing a goal is like a skill, and all skills can be improved.
Your next plan of action should be to get started today! The most important action to accomplish a goal is to start working on it immediately. No amount of procrastination, waiting until things are perfect, and sitting around until you “feel like” doing something will make this step easier.
Don’t keep putting off your plans until tomorrow when you can do them today. The excuses you have right now won’t suddenly disappear tomorrow or next week.