December 31, 2017 Katelyn O'Neil

Five Tips for Goal Setting and Achievement

Person silhouette standing in 2018 on the hill at sunset

By: Natalie Wallace

Setting goals is a way for people to understand where they are in comparison to where they want to be. It’s usually about self betterment in some way or another, motivating and pushing them closer to success. What is success even? The definition varies as it’s extremely relative to the individual. Triumph for one person may look very different than triumph for another.

The struggle with goal achievement is real. People set goals all the time. The end of the year is a great example, as December comes to a close, January creeps into proximity with a bright and promising new beginning. It’s estimated that 40 percent of Americans set new year’s resolutions. Yet, according to University of Scranton research, a lousy eight percent actually stick it out to achieve them. Not so bright and promising after all.

These discouraging statistics don’t have to loom over you as you consider what you want to achieve next year. There are plenty of reasons as to why the majority of people are failing. From missing the steps in between to overlooking impactful influences, both internal and external, the ways in which people are falling short can be overcome. Below are five tips for setting goals and actually achieving them.

  1. Choose goals that truly motivate you

If you are setting goals that do not fuel the fire inside, the likelihood that you’re going to spend valuable time working towards them is extremely low. As human beings in the twenty-first century, we are all naturally occupied with our hectic day to day. As parents, entrepreneurs, friends, daughters, sons, athletes, teachers — you name it — time is damn precious.

If the goals you set lack significant personal meaning, they in turn lack the ability to drive you towards them. Herein lies where the effort required to get started is never put forth. Choose goals on the top of your priority list. Start small, with your top three or less, and go from there. Being exceptionally zealous can actually hinder your success, overwhelming you and causing you to give up.

  1.   Put it on paper

Writing anything down helps encourage the concept, thought or idea to go from short-term memory to long-term memory, even if you’re unaware of it. Writing your goals down solidifies them, gives them life and supplies you with a permanent record of them for the future. You want to make the goals as obvious as possible. They should metaphorically slap you in the face, everyday.

This could be something as simple as a to-do list you complete and check off on the daily, or maybe you want something bright and bold to energize you, like a vision board. Extra points go to those who include writing down their “why” along with the goals themselves. For those of you who are unclear, your “why” is your purpose for setting out to accomplish your goals.

  1.   Create a plan of action

Great! You want to run a marathon. How are you going to get there? Part of goal setting is making an plan to get from where you’re at, to your destination, which requires change and accountability. Writing down your goals aids in both. Build upon your goals to create a plan. You’ll need to break each goal down into actionable steps you can do every day to bring you closer to your result.

For example, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds, one daily action may be to to walk for 30 minutes everyday. If you want to run that marathon, you’ll need to begin a training schedule. Write it all down. Schedule it into your daily life. This way you can see what you need to do and have a way of tracking your progress. If you don’t already utilize a calendar (screen-less), consider getting one. Self Journals and Passion Planners are great for anyone just starting out.

  1.   Know the difference between goals and systems

A goal is something you want to achieve. A system is the process it takes to get there, like a detailed strategy. For instance, if you’re an entrepreneur your goal is to create a successful business and your system is the process you use every day for lead generation, sales, administration, marketing, etc.

The system is what you want to commit to, not necessarily the goal. So, what happens when you reach the goal? Or you get distracted? Do you ditch the system? Probably. Needless to say, this get you caught in cycles of working towards goals, achieving them (or failing), and then reverting back to pre-goal routines. Don’t wait to feel happy and successful until you reach your goal. Find relish in the process. Devote yourself to the system instead of the end result and you will feel how and be where you want to, long term.

  1.   Use the six sources of influence

Everyday you are affected by internal and external influences. According to The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, these influences are constantly acting on us and impacting our decisions. They ecompass motivation and ability from three origins: yourself, your social life, and your environment.

Personal motivation is your inner desire and personal ability is having the required knowledge or skills. Tip number one covered the importance of personal motivation. If you lack the knowledge or skills to reach your goals, consider spending time reading up on whatever it is you want to achieve. Social motivation comes from the people you surround yourself with and social ability comes from harnessing the power of your peers. Spend time with friends who have similar aspirations as you. Lastly, environmental motivation is the use of rewards along the way, and environmental ability is altering your surroundings to set yourself up for success.

Whether you want to write a book, drop 30 pounds or quit drinking, these five tips will help you conquer your goals more easily, and keep momentum for the long haul. Tapping into all five will almost guarantee your success, although if you were to overlook all of them except number five, you’d still have great odds. This coming year, if you decide to set any resolutions, look inward to find who you want to be and what you want most, then do what it takes to get there.