The ownership of what we can become and the belief in creating our ideal future sits with ourselves. We are all personally responsible for our future. If you are not in control of where you spend your time and what you want to focus on, you can easily be distracted and end up down a completely different path. By setting goals it gives you a clear view of your future with desired results, and you can take complete control of where you are right now and every aspect of your life. The more powerful your goals and the more emotionally invested you are in achieving them, the greater the result. As a result, you will have more freedom in every area of your business and life.
So how do you make your goals successful and achieve them every time.
1. Create Direction
Begin with the end in mind (Stephen Covey 7 Habits). Extremely pivotal in the role of setting and achieving goals. If you are not clear on what you want in the end, your goals can be focused on small achievements which don’t take you in the right direction.
Have a why behind the story. What does this goal mean to you? What are the benefits of achieving this goal? What difference will it make in your life? This makes the goal clearer and brings a deeper meaning to why you want to focus here. Live by your design and not by default.
2. Smart goals
Goal setting is just the start and the path to achieving a goal should be enjoyable, stimulating and drive you forward every day. On the journey to goal achievement you should learn something new and important about yourself, that will push you further. We’ve all heard of SMART goals.
Your goals should be simple, significant and stretching to ensure you can focus your efforts and be truly motivate.
Include a measurable outcome; amounts, dates, data into your goal so you can measure your degree of success. A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard or scorekeeper. Numbers are an essential part of business. Without a way to measure your success you miss out not only on the focus to achieve but also on the celebration that comes with knowing you have achieved something.
Make sure that it's possible to achieve the goal you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demotivate yourself and lose your confidence. So, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to "raise the bar” stretch you, provide challenge and these bring the greatest personal satisfaction. Dream big and aim for the stars but keep one foot firmly based in reality.
Your goal should be realistic and must be in the direction you want your life and career to take, and by keeping them aligned to this, you will keep focus.
Your goal must have a deadline, this means that you know when you will achieve success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases, and achievement will come that much quicker. Without a deadline it can give you the option of always putting off the work you need to do to achieve your goal.
Breaking the goal into smaller milestones, timelines, effectively smaller achievement points gives you greater opportunity to celebrate.
3. Write It Down
Write down your compelling reason for wanting the goal. Write it with passion, feeling and energy. Statistics show people who write down their goals have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them.
To make sure that your goal is motivating, write down why it's valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, "If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?" You can use this statement then to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to make the goal happen.
4. Action Planning
Setting your goal is the first step and to achieve it, you need a rigorous action plan, which is another step many people overlook. They assume setting the goal is enough. Action planning is key to making your goals or dreams a reality.
Consider the many different actions you could take. The first thoughts may not be the best way to achieve your goal. Identify the actions that will have the greatest impact, break these down into smaller chunks.
Create a to do list, action list, plan, if this is how you work best. Calendar reminders are also good and provide automated reminders when you are pulled back into the day to day of life. Use technology, there are so many tools and apps out there that can really help you with action planning.
Talk about your goal. Tell a friend, colleague or someone you can tell about your goal. Share it. Make them visible, post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. Put them on your walls, desk, screen, fridge, bathroom mirror as a constant reminder.
Get yourself an accountability partner. A quick skype or phone call each fortnight to talk through action progress, where each person commits to 2 or 3 things they will deliver. Consider the implications of what happens if you don’t deliver, and the benefits of delivering. You can also implement a “penalty” for not doing what you said, which is another motivating reason to follow through.
“In the past, I've had an accountability partner, which was amazing. I could completely lose focus on my goals and timescales, get bogged down in the day to day of work and life, and not take any action towards my goals. However, with a regular check in call each fortnight I either had to blag my way through the non-achievement, which always got picked up and challenged, or be accountable, deliver on my actions and celebrate my successes with someone else.”
Gain feedback on your progress. This is critical to driving performance and increasing your ability to achieve your goal. You have one perspective and can often justify to yourself why a goal or milestone has not been met. However, those around you may have another view and are likely to challenge your justifications for non-delivery. Seek out constructive criticism and listen to what others are saying - the good and the bad. Feedback is the cheapest and most powerful way to gauge how other people perceive how you’re doing.
So, find a buddy, join a group, or hire a coach.
6. Overcome obstacles
Your goal could be big, scary and seem unachievable. You doubt yourself and you don’t know if you can do it. You’ve tried before and failed. It will get uncomfortable, and you may have to do things you have never done before. Great, this is challenge, your opportunity to learn and develop.
Be realistic and understand what is going on in your mind, what is blocking you. Write down your scary thoughts, reflect on them. Pick one, tiny, realistic thought that will help you reframe what that negative voice is telling you. Remember that you create your own thoughts and beliefs, replacing negative self-talk and beliefs with positive ones can really engage, motivate and drive your actions.
If the voice is telling you “I never achieve my goals, so I don’t set them” think about that, is it true? What does a generic statement like that mean? Maybe you haven’t always reached your goals in the past, but you probably did make some progress towards them. Take some time to understand what didn’t work for you in the past, think about how you will overcome that in the future.
Once you have your action plan, look in your calendar. Be bold, prioritise and schedule each task. Blocking the time out and giving yourself the time and permission to work on your actions is a great way to work through the list. Focus; one thing at a time. Don’t get distracted, you don’t have to worry about all the other steps as you have already planned them in your calendar. Scheduling each step toward your goal is critical to achieving it successfully. And after all that analysis, the actual method of reaching your goal could come down to one, small change in your habits:
“I had one realisation, how much money I was spending on incidentals each month. Simple and easy. I realised that every weekday, I would pop out to Costa coffee, just down the road, 1 Skinny Latte and Biscotti biscuits later, was a lovely treat for me. This habit started just once a week and had crept up to 4 times a week. When I added it up it was quite shocking that I was spending over £70 a month right there. I made one change and brought my lovely Nespresso coffee from home every morning. What a saving. And I still allowed myself the treat of my Costa every now and then. Plus, no biscuits, equals the bonus of weight loss.”
What about when life gets in the way. This can take over all the hard work you put into action planning and can hinder your goal. Plan for when life gets in the way in advance. Create routine, decide what you can do if something crops up and steals your time. Then when it happens you know your actions to get back on track. There’s no need to get frustrated and agitated, you know the plan, just follow it.
For example, setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier, then when you get used to that, another 15 minutes earlier. That gives you an extra 30-minutes per day to work on your goal.
A journal is a written record of your thoughts, experiences and observations. It can take many forms; a notebook, folder, notepad or “i something”, whatever you prefer.
Rule #1: There are no rules!
How: Write freely. Say anything. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, self-censorship
What: Whatever is important or interesting to you in achieving your goal; thoughts, feelings, ideas, concerns, accomplishments, key learnings, websites to explore, feedback
When: Daily, for say 5-15 minutes
Where: Reserve a place for focus – minimize interruptions or distractions.
Your journal will develop on its own. It provides you a reflective learning tool, an outlet, something that you can use as you continue to develop.
Smash it and celebrate success.