We would all like to be more productive. Well, at least most of us would, and I’m sure this includes you if you’re reading this post.
Are you struggling to find ways to channel yourself in the right direction and stick to it? After all, it shouldn’t be that hard. When you have some goals laid out and you stick to them, it’s all momentum from there.
Setting yourself goals gives you something to strive towards. Look forward to, and have a greater sense of achievement. There are right and wrong ways to set goals however. Going about it the wrong way is a quick way to get yourself feeling all flustered and like you’re actually going backwards.
I have been setting and ticking off goals for years. It’s helped me become considerably more productive, and achieve more than I thought possible at times. Here are some tips to help set you up for setting better goals, and helping you achieve those goals.
How to Set Goals and Stick to Them the Right Way
Be Very Specific
I guess you hear some of the same statements thrown out as I do often. Such as ‘I want to lose some weight’, ‘I want to progress in my career faster’, or ‘I want to develop more skills this year’.
These are all good goals. Or more so, desires and wants. But what part of those statements are actually goals, or something that can be worked towards? Not much, they are too vague and non-specific.
It’s time to get very specific and break down these goals. If you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? How quickly? How are you going to go about doing this?
It’s not always easy to put things like happiness down on paper and break it down. But you can list some smaller goals that all contribute to this. The key is to be specific, make these goals very clear and easy to quantify.
Set Deadlines and Stick to Them
Goals have to have deadlines. Otherwise where is the main motivation to complete them? Setting a deadline that is both achievable, yet difficult, is the key. This is the hard part, but if we’re honest with ourselves we know how to push ourselves to do better.
Think about it like a race. There is always a start and a finish line. What kind of race would it be with no finish line? I understand that sometimes a deadline just cannot be met. But this should not happen every often.
Break down a Goal into Sub-Goals
Large tasks can feel overwhelming. Not to mention it can be hard to make the all important first step on a large task. So find a way to break down the goal into smaller pieces that are easier to deal with.
There is a school of thought that the larger the goal we set, the larger our belief needs to be if we are going to achieve it. So make your task easier on yourself. Start ticking off those small goals at a faster pace, it feels great.
Learn to Commit Yourself Fully
You absolutely have to commit to your goals if you’re going to complete them. This starts with setting the goals themselves. Think about the earlier, and more common examples of losing weight. You can’t set a half-hearted goal, you will neither want or be able to complete it.
One way to put a stamp on your commitment is to ask a friend to hold you accountable. There are few feelings worse than letting someone close to your down, and this is how you will feel if you don’t come through after you’ve asked them to keep tabs on you.
Joining groups with other like-minded people is also a huge motivator. If this is applicable to your own goals then go for it. There are so many pros to working with groups, such as making new friends, accountability, and social activity.
Log Your Progress
This is equally as important as any of the other points I’ve raised. You need to keep a log of your progress, both as a motivating factor and just a visual reminder of what you’re working towards.
This doesn’t have to pen and paper. There are apps and computer programs designed to do exactly what you want here. You can set reminders and tick items off the list and really appreciate visually what you are achieving.
Finally, Reward Yourself
We all react to rewards. There is no shame in setting your own rewards either, hell you can be as generous as you like too. It’s best to set the smaller rewards with the smaller goals, these keep you motivated and make the rewards more real.
How to Set Goals the Wrong Way and Set Yourself up to Fail
I have worked with a lot of different people on their goals. The main reason behind seeing someone fail to achieve their goals lies in the planning. I have covered above the right way to set goals, and with all right ways come a lot of wrong ways.
Most of the wrong ways are simply the opposite to the above, but I will explain in a little more detail how and where most people go wrong.
Not Setting Deadlines, or Making It Flexible
Everyone falls prey to being a little lazy or procrastinating from time to time. Deadlines are set to help combat this, but if you cheat yourself by not taking them seriously you’re only cheating yourself.
Yet I see people constantly coming up with reasons why they cannot meet a deadline for one reason or another. Act like there are no excuses, act like everything depends on you meeting this deadline. Then see how you do what seemed like the impossible.
Find the Balance between Realistic and Achievable
This is the toughest part. How do you find a balance between realistic, achievable, and really tough to do? Well, firstly you need to learn from experience, and look towards what others are doing.
If someone else lost 10 lbs of weight in a month, why can’t you? Sure you need to look at their situation and check you have a lot of the same starting points. But no one is more special than you are, value yourself higher.
Always raise the bar a little each time too. If you’re exercising for example you never want to stagnate. You should always be aiming a little higher each time. That’s the only way you make real gains, plus the previous targets become easier.
Listen to Yourself, Not Others
Ultimately you are the one responsible for achieving your goals. I said earlier to let others hold you accountable, and that’s fine. But if someone is telling you what you are, or aren’t capable of you shouldn’t hold that as fact.
You know yourself better than anyone else. Finding a way to be completely honest with yourself is what will bring out the best you have to offer. So practice being honest, not listening to others.
You Get Discouraged by Failure
I have said it more times than I can remember on this blog, and in real life. Failure is fine, completely fine. We all have to fail before we can really appreciate true success.
Never, ever, get discouraged by failure. If you don’t achieve the goal you set for yourself, dust yourself off and get ready to set the goal again. But this time you’re going to change what went wrong last time and make it a success.
There are countless examples of people who went through multiple failures before hitting that home run they set themselves as a goal. One of the most famous is Sir James Dyson, who is behind the Dyson brand. He had a reported 5,126 failed prototypes and burned through all his saving before he finally had his first finished, successful product.
Look at the positive side, you will never go through that many knock backs. So what are you waiting for? Set those goals, motivate yourself, start today, and make a real difference.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.
2 thoughts on “How to Set Goals and Stick to Them the Right Way”
Thanks for the valuable tips. On my website for students http://writethisessay.net I am also writing on achieving goals and how important it is to choose the right way to do it when you’re still in college.
I would like to add a couple more tips to your article:
1) It’s very important to write down your goals. Once you have them on paper they become tangible, and you can clear your head to start developing an action plan.
2) Break your work into digestible chunks, bite enough for you to chew on. If you’re too harsh on yourself, you’ll wear out pretty soon.
Hope these add a little value to the readers.
Thanks for your input Megan, those are helpful points for sure.