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Goals

5 Science-Backed Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals

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Science backed goal setting

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”


-Tony Robbins



Don’t let lethargy keep you from getting ahead. Make an effort to learn why long term and short term goals are necessary for a person’s overall success in life.  

Social media posts on success/entrepreneurship/self-help seem to be brimming with the SMART(S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable, R-realistic, T-target oriented) technique for setting and achieving your goals. Logically, this technique makes a lot of sense, but the concepts are a bit difficult to understand for people who are just learning about “Success.” So, they come across as a bunch of clever sounding words and nothing else.

People who don’t set goals fail most of the time; they just don’t realize it or they rationalize to avoid the pain of being seen as a loser. There are many reasons why someone might live their life without having clear goals in mind. Insecurity, low self-esteem, being surrounded by the wrong people, coming from a low socio-economic class are just some of the common reasons stopping people from thinking clearly.

The never-to-be-forgotten story of Hungarian soldier Karoly Takacs is a classic example of how a burning desire to achieve something coupled with proper planning can lead a person to glory.

During a military training session, Takacs lost his right hand, his shooting hand, when a grenade exploded in his vicinity. Hence, his dream of winning a gold medal in the Olympics was shattered.

Most of his relatives and colleagues consoled him and thought that the poor lad has accepted his fate and moved on. But Takacs continued his practice patiently with his left hand and won two gold medals in the next few years.

5 Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals:

1. Define the Goal

Science backed goal setting

Without a clear, written down goal, your desire to achieve something just becomes a wish. You can dream or talk about it all you want, but until you write it down on a piece of paper, it remains a half-hearted attempt.

Likewise, visualization is a great tool that many of us are blessed with. Our ability to step into the shoes of another person and see the world the way they see is what makes us human and separates us from other primates. You don’t have to write down the exact figure that you want to earn this year or make a picture of the girl/guy you want to have in your life. You can start by simply writing down vague, high-level goals first and then revise them as you go.

“A goal, however, is something distinctly different from a wish. It is clear, written, and specific. It can be quickly and easily described to another person. You can measure it, and you know when you have achieved it or not.”  


-Brian Tracy

So, write it down, make a big statement to yourself and get accountability from people around you.

Character traits of a person who sets and achieves goals:

They…

  • are trustworthy
  • live their life with purpose
  • believe in sharing and not taking
  • lead themselves and others
  • help others achieve their goals too
  • give their best whether things are going their way or not

Character traits of someone who doesn’t operate with goals in mind:

They…

  • always look for shortcuts
  • don’t work well with deadlines
  • let people down in high-pressure situations
  • only perform when things are going their way

2. Pay Attention to the “Why”

In his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek explains the significance of “why” in business and life in general. He says if your “why” is clear, the “how-to” will follow. A lot of people get bogged down in finding the right method or technique to get the thing they want but are dishonest about why they want that thing in their lives in the first place.

Without a strong purpose, life becomes meaningless. A lot of people start their venture with a bang, but as things move further, they slowly start to feel demotivated. In the midst of difficulties, they quit because they don’t know what makes them tick.  

“Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement. Think on paper and write them down!”


-Brian Tracy

3. Collect Resources

Science backed goal setting

Being a resourceful person is another prerequisite for becoming a winner. A resourceful person has enough personal connections, time and money needed to reach their goal. As a result, they don’t underestimate any of the above mentioned three factors.

Free resources like books, YouTube videos, etc. are available to you all the time if you don’t have the money to invest. Money invested in books and educational training always gives huge returns. Moreover, successful authors like Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Robert Greene, etc. put their heart and soul in putting their life’s learnings in a few hundred pages of a book; which costs no more than a few bucks.

Also, attend meetups and socialize to understand the learning curve of other people. For instance, looking outwards and understanding other people’s problems and situations helps in developing empathy. Most people will argue that we are born with empathy and don’t need to develop it, but not everyone has the psychic ability to read others’ minds. Conversely, some of us need to get out of our shell and put ourselves in social situations to learn what we couldn’t develop naturally.

4. Build Momentum

It’s not necessary to do everything right at the beginning of a project. Most people wait for the right moment, or they keep learning; watching videos, reading books, to feel fully confident and deserving of the task they wish to commence. These are all signs of procrastination. In short, the right thing is to just start and improve each day.

Darren Hardy in his book The Compound Effect talks about how seemingly insignificant things we do each day can add up to affect our lives in the long run. You can build enough momentum to succeed if you take a tiny amount of action each day in the direction of your goal.

5. Journal Every Day

Science backed goal setting

You’ve probably noticed that knowing where you have reached in your journey to achieving your goal is very difficult. If only there was a way to measure it. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to keep track of your progress. Let’s take a closer look at how it can help in setting and achieving your goals.

Monitor your thoughts and behaviors by jotting down things that are currently bothering you. Most problems disappear once you bring them into awareness.

Evolutionarily, humans are social creatures. We need comfort and support of others who are on the same path as we are. Do not ignore the human need for accountability.

Being unclear about what needs to be done takes up a lot of time in needless trial and error. Yes, there is a time for trial and error but not when you are on a deadline and under pressure to achieve your goal in a limited time period.

Recent research shows that journaling every day can enhance self-reflection, ability to articulately express feelings and develop critical thinking.

Setting and achieving your goals isn’t just about collecting good resources, building momentum and daily journaling. Recent research suggests that you also model the habits of successful people and practice them until they become second nature to you.

Nobody likes to fail. The person who least deserves to fail is you. So give yourself a chance to succeed.

Goals

5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate

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5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate

Everyone wants to achieve their goals, however, very few put in the effort to actually make this a reality. And even among those who do put in the required effort, chances of attaining the goal tend to be pretty slim. Set realistic goals to begin with because when you set unrealistic goals, you are already setting yourself up for failure.

We think we need to work more to achieve our goals but what we need to do is find ways to be productive and achieve more in less time in a given day. There are many ways to make sure that you are being productive but that falls apart if you don’t know how to stick to your goals. So, to ensure that you stick to your goals and triple your chances of succeeding in the venture, you need to abide by the following tips:

1. Divide Big Goals Into Smaller Ones

5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate

A good tactic you should start using is to divide your big goals into smaller ones. For this, you need to find out the course of action you must take in order to achieve those smaller goals. For example, suppose that you are a student whose main goal is to perform well in an entrance test coming up in two months.

Now, the first thing you should do is to break the big task into smaller targets. Since there are two months to the test, you can set up weekly targets. If there are 7 modules you need to learn, then you can assign one week to learn one module. And the last week can be set aside to revise and refresh your knowledge. Make sure to finish all modules on time and to test yourself each week to assess your retention of that specific subject. This process of learning will surely help you far more than trying to learn all the 7 modules in a haphazard way.

This example demonstrates how you can split your big goal, which is preparing for the entrance test, into smaller goals where you finished learning a section every week. And by doing so, you were able to learn everything and be ready for the entrance test comfortably.

People usually have difficulty in managing a big goal. However, with a smaller goal, which they think is doable, people can achieve better with a bit of an effort. Turning a big goal into a series of smaller goals, and writing your goals down, will not only help you stick to your goals but also to achieve them successfully.

2. Create Beneficial Habits

5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate

It is also important to create habits that will help you attain your goals. These habits have to be developed by identifying the various ways which will be used to achieve the end goal. Carrying the previous example forward, you will now have to dedicate a fixed amount of time each day preparing for the test.

As such, you will have to decide the best time slots for your studies. Once decided, you need to ensure that you follow the said plan accurately. And for this, you need to attune yourself to the time slots. So, if the time is set at 8 AM, and you usually only wake up at 10 AM, then you need to immediately consider adjusting your sleep cycle so that you wake up at 8 AM and are ready to study.

Similarly, if your aim is to improve your productivity at office, then you may have to accept and embrace habits like waking up early to exercise as it helps to ensure a fully-charged body for the entire day. So, whatever your goal, just make sure that you incorporate and develop a few habits to achieve your tasks as a part of your plan.  

3. Commitment and Accountability

5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate

A good method to help you stick to your goal is to commit to another individual who will make you accountable for it. For example, imagine that you are an overweight person and wish to shed about 30kgs. You draw up a 6-month diet and exercise plan with monthly targets that define the process.

The next thing you should do is to get in touch with a very close person, a friend or relative, and share the goal you have set for yourself. For example, you can disclose the plan with your brother coupled with the condition that you will pay 20% of your part-time income to him if you fail to meet the target. The prospect of failing in front of your brother and the loss of your income will act as a good motivation for you to try and meet the set goals.

4. Behavior Substitution

5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate

At times, your goal may require you to change certain behavioral patterns. Under such circumstances, you may have to substitute such behaviors with good alternatives to ensure that you are able to proceed toward achieving your goal. Let’s suppose that there is a 1.5 km race being conducted in your community and you wish to place a position in the top 3 but your weight is an issue for you.

Now, you may have a habit of overeating which results in excess weight. This is something that you must try to control to be in perfect shape for the race. But cutting down your eating can be difficult. So, what do you do? Look to substitute that behavior with something that causes the least negative impact on your goal. For the purpose of this example, you can replace high calorie foods with low calorie ones. By doing so, you will be in a better position to achieve your goal.

5. Join a Community

5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate

Finally, try joining a community that shares interests and goals similar to yours. If you try to fulfill a goal by yourself, you might find it difficult to stick with the plan and this will eventually impact your success. However, if you make it a group activity, then there is a better chance that you might actually end up achieving the goal. This is also for accountability and commitment.

For example, if you wish to study Spanish, you might find it difficult to study the language on your own. However, if you join an online study group that conducts weekly learning lessons, then you have a fighting chance of fulfilling your goal. So, find a supportive community that focuses on the subject of your goal and become a member.

Final Thoughts

Having big goals can be intimidating but do not run from it. Find ways to face it. Find ways to make the huge tasks manageable, seek support from people you know or people who are in the field, get tips from people who have done it – either succeeded or failed in it. Learn as much as you can, set rewards for yourself and keep yourself motivated. Keep going, stick to your goals, and do not give up.

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Goals

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

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The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Whenever you have to step out of your comfort zone, finding reasons not to is a natural response. Learn to fight that. You either find a reason to do the job or an excuse for not doing it. 

Get obsessed, totally obsessed. There is no just liking what you do, get obsessed with it.  Stand up and do what you want! Don’t be lazy! Don’t hesitate! Don’t let fear stop you from achieving your goals! Life is what you make of it – might sound cliche, but this is the ultimate truth.

Because in the end, the worst regrets are of things you didn’t do, experiences you didn’t have, and chances you didn’t take. Let go of people, things, situations, and habits that hold you back.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

– Tony Robbins

Now, arises the question- how to set a goal? You might be at a juncture in life where you feel you’ve achieved everything, so there are no more goals to attain. But there’s always more to achieve. Wouldn’t you feel charged up when you have something concrete to accomplish?

Or, you might fall in the league of underachievers- people riddled with self-doubt, who are not expected to achieve much- floating through life directionless, rudderless? If so, it’s time to surprise everyone, including you. 

Are you afraid of setting a goal for yourself? Are you setting yourself for disappointment and guilt? It’s not so. Life gives us umpteen chances to change; every day is a new opportunity. Goals can be changed and realigned.  Here’s the ultimate guide to setting a goal that will help you live the life you want.

Set a Goal That YOU Really Want

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

All our lives, we are conditioned to make sacrifices, to take into account the wishes of those who are close to us, to be considerate. Thinking about what you want is considered selfish. Some people don’t even have the liberty to choose their college major because their parents choose it for them. This results in people not being happy with their lives. Most people go through life not realizing that they hold the key to change in their hands.

Again we come to the point about self-realization. Eliminate what’s not important from your goal list. Experiment with different goals to find the ones that make you happy. Prioritize goals based on their importance in your life. Then, pick the top goal, determine its timeline and action plan. Voila, you have your goal!

Make Small, Iterative Goals

Big goals can be intimidating and have the power to have an adverse effect on you. Do not stop yourself from setting big goals. Instead, push yourself to set bigger and difficult goals but break it down into workable chunks. This makes the big thing not look that huge, and gives you an achievable viewpoint to conquering the said goal.

“Most impossible goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them and going full speed ahead as if they were routine.”

-Don Lancaster

Instead of making yearly resolutions, have a monthly goal and revise it for the next month. For instance, target to lose 5 pounds in a month. Work hard to achieve this and once you have your strategy spot-on, iterate to a larger goal for the next month.

Share Your Goals

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Confess your goals to people you trust. Beware, telling the wrong people about your ambitious plans can act as a deterrent in reaching your goal. They will criticize or pull you down if you waver or fail, demotivating you. Your well-wishers will support you completely, gently remind you if you get diverted, and empathize if you are unable to attain your goal.

This also helps because people will help you hold yourself accountable to your goals while this also gives you an opportunity to find people with goals similar to yours.

Savor the Journey

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

-Jim Rohn

Goals should not become an albatross around your neck. They should not overwhelm you. The key to enjoying your journey towards your goal is to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals.

Reward Yourself

Enjoy the fruits of your success. You need not be too critical of yourself. At the same time, don’t cut yourself too much slack. Set short-term goals, pat your back when you achieve them, strive for a bigger goal, and reward yourself, even more, when you reach the touchpoint.

Keep Yourself on Track

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

When the temptation to procrastinate or to abandon your goal strikes, ask yourself some hard questions. Find out why you’re pulling back from the goal. If there’s an actionable way to solve the problem, take action. Even if you can’t find any answers, find a way to remain on track. While it’s okay to take a breather when you feel down and out, too much of a break can lead to complete delineation from your goal and you’ll find yourself back from where you started.

Self-Affirm

Think positively about your goals. It’s not entirely a falsity that when you visualize vividly about something, the whole universe starts conspiring to make it possible. Self affirmation primes you for success.

Measure Your Success

Find ways of measuring your success. This is easier said than done. For goals that equate to emotional, social or psychological success, it becomes quite hard to calibrate how far you’ve reached. If you’re generally satisfied with results, you can term your goal setting exercise a winner.

View Failure as Opportunity

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

The final piece of advice is to view setbacks as learning opportunities. You need to learn to change your mindset if you see failure as an end. Failure is very important for us to grow. It gives us experiences and lessons that cannot be learned in any other way.

When you fail, you need to get back up, dust yourself, and keep going. Assess what went wrong and why, then restructure your strategy, and start afresh. Failure is nothing but success turned inside out. It will humble you and make you stronger. 

Final Thoughts

Give yourself a chance to explore your talents and achieve what you have always wanted. Have a goal. Have a plan. Have difficult targets. It’s okay if you fail – what isn’t okay is giving up because you failed once. Stop trying to find reasons for not doing something, instead start looking for reasons to do it. 

Excuses are cowards way out – they are the reason you stay in your comfort zone forever. They give you a false sense of security. Life is an adventure. Live like it.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

-Steve Jobs

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5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed

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5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed

“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.”

-Earl Nightingale

Scary thought, isn’t it? To live your life without a goal; to be told that you’ll never succeed because you don’t have a goal? I don’t remember how many times I’ve read about how important goal setting is. Every successful person out there vouches for it and there are numerous studies showing the benefits of writing down your goals. Every person, whether they write their goals down or not, has shared a quote about goals. Why is it that important? 

Are you one of the zillion people out there who believe in “going with the flow”? Are you at a loss of words when quizzed about your new year’s resolution, simply because you don’t have any? Well, if you are, then perhaps this post can help you in goal setting and achieving.

But why should one set a goal? 

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can keep running up and down the field without ever scoring.”

-Bill Copeland

Clichés aside, goal setting is extremely important. Do you find yourself fulfilling others’ expectations and wishes, instead of pursuing your own happiness? Or do you get distracted or dejected when you see others achieving while you’re still struggling? This could be because you haven’t been able to identify your goals, or assert them, or measure them, or adhere to them.

Here are some benefits that setting goals brings to your daily life. If you find following up on your goals difficult then writing your goals down is the best way to hold yourself accountable.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons for setting goals, and the importance of having goals to move forward in your life.

1. Goals Keep You Motivated

5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed

Often, we hear advice such as – write down your goals and prop them everywhere – in the kitchen, on your mirror, table top, and other places you frequent. This keeps your goals at the forefront and keeps you on track. Else, you might end up following a pattern we’re all familiar with: we set a goal; get all excited about it; work madly towards it; suffer setbacks; lose steam; abandon goal; back to square one.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”

-Bill Copeland

Motivation is instrumental in attaining your goals. Conversely, pinpointing your goals will keep you motivated. So, jot down a goal you really want to achieve, set down a realistic target date, and outline a plan of action.

2. Goals Can Make You Achieve the Unachievable 

5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed

Proper goal setting can lead to real success. Breaking down large, intimidating goals into small measurable victories will gain give you the momentum to keep working till the final pay off. 

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

-Zig Ziglar

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh wrote in his book “Delivering Happiness” how he increased employee satisfaction in his company by offering frequent promotions for small achievements. The cumulative sum of promotion returns for each employee in a year was the same as would have been had he given annual promotions on large accomplishments. But satisfaction and energy level among employees on receiving acknowledgement for each positive action was discernible. Employees were able to reach their target faster and the end result were happier employees and a satisfied management.

3. Goals Keep You Accountable

5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed

A goal without a date and a plan is just a wish. Writing down your goals, sharing them with people, measuring your achievements are all ways to maintain accountability. It also helps you realign your strategies if you find yourself falling behind your goal timeline. People forget that they have enough time, they just need to learn to prioritize it.

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”

-Albert Einstein

Another benefit of identifying concrete goals is the satisfaction you’ll experience when you look back at your journey and realize that you’ve achieved what you had determined.

4. Goals Assert Your Self-Belief

5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed

Goals fuel your ambition. They lead to the strengthening of belief in your strengths and capabilities. Why else would you pick a goal if you thought you couldn’t accomplish it? This is especially true for goals that are hard or uncommon. 

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

-Michelangelo

In dark times, when your self-belief is shaken or bruised, you can look back at your past achievements and boost your morale, pick up your spirits, and carry on. 

5. Goals Help in Self-Realization

5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed

Self-realization or actualization means how well you know yourself. What do you REALLY desire? Is it just a reflection of what others want from you? Your goals will help you understand what makes you happy and content.

“Set ambitious goals and along the way you will discover yourself.”

-Robin Suomi

If you don’t feel real happiness on attaining a goal, it means that the goal isn’t close to your heart. Naturally, when you’re able to drill down on goals that are truly important, you will understand yourself better. 

Final Thoughts

Without a clear, written down goal, your desire to achieve something just becomes a wish. You can dream or talk about it all you want, but until you write it down on a piece of paper, it remains a half-hearted attempt. 

Without a strong purpose, life becomes meaningless. A lot of people start their venture with a bang, but as things move further, they slowly start to feel demotivated. In the midst of difficulties, they quit because they don’t know what makes them tick.  

Nobody likes to fail. The person who least deserves to fail is you. So give yourself a chance to succeed – start setting goals and start following them religiously.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

-Henry David Thoreau

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