For some, setting goals and actioning those goals is a daily practice that is so entrenched in their behaviour that they can’t operate without them. For many others, personal and professional progress has ground to a halt simply because they don’t know how to get started – to take that first step.
In this article we’re addressing how to set goals and take action so that you can gain the momentum you need to be more productive, and to live a happier, more accomplished life.
Step 1: What do you want/need to accomplish?
Without consideration for limits, boundaries, obstacles, or challenges, think of the things you want and/or need to accomplish. It could be absolutely anything: a college assignment you’ve been procrastinating over, spring-cleaning the garage that hasn’t seen a broom since the early 90’s or starting your own business. Picture that goal in your mind in its entirety.
Step 2: Write it down
Write your goals down in specific terms and make them real – turn your objectives into words that you can read over and over again. Don’t just say: “I want to lose weight” – be specific and apply some kind of timescale to it: “I would like to be able to fit into my favourite swimsuit without feeling shy and I’d like to do that by December for our Thailand holiday.” Unpack your goal and give it substance and weight. Sticking that piece of paper up on your bathroom mirror or elsewhere where you can see it will keep you focused.
Step 3: Tell someone
If friends, colleagues or family are aware of the journey you wish to embark on, you’ll be so much more likely to succeed or at least make a good start. Consider these people your very own cheerleading squad who will help keep you accountable for your goals and encourage you to stay on track. It’s harder to give up when you have to face other people.
Step 4: Break it down
Now that you’ve written down your goal and chatted to a friend, family member, colleague, or even your neighbour about it, you should break it down into smaller, achievable steps. Often, our goals are big and somewhat vague, like “I would like to lose weight” or “I want to start my own business.” Therefore, you’ve got to decide on the smaller, achievable goals that will become the stepping-stones to that larger goal. The more specific you can be, the better:
- Go for a half-hour run or jog before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Take my own healthy, prepared lunch to work instead of getting my usual unhealthy takeaway food.
- Go to gym after work on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.
Step 5: Plan your first step
Even the longest journeys start with a single step, so now’s the time to really think about and plan for that first step. In keeping with the above example, research some tasty recipes for healthy meals and then stock your cupboards with those ingredients so that you have everything you need to be successful. Set your alarm a half-hour earlier, download a cool running app to help monitor your progress, and prep your tech so that you have a phone full of great music to listen to while you run. Enable yourself.
Step 6: Keep chipping away
All too often, we expect our first day’s effort to be rewarded with great triumph – after all: you’ve waited long enough to make a start. That’s rarely the case, though. Sometimes, you need to work at something for weeks, months, or even years before you see the kind of progress you’d like to. All that matters is that you take a few positive steps in the right direction today and do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day. By chipping away at that goal and trying different angles and approaches if something doesn’t work for you, you’ll eventually get there.
Step 7: Celebrate
When you finally achieve that goal, take time to celebrate your accomplishment. Appreciate the fact that you are standing on top of a mountain you previously did not believe you could summit and let that be the most important lesson learned. That feeling of accomplishment is what is going to fuel the fire for your next challenge!
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