Setting goals is one of the most important and impactful things we can do to improve our lives. Goals give us direction, motivation, and purpose. However, setting goals is one thing, but making them stick is another. Many people set goals but fail to follow through, leaving them frustrated and unfulfilled. In this article, we’ll explore how to set goals that actually stick.
First, consider why many people fail to follow through on their goals. One of the main reasons is that they set unrealistic goals. They set goals that are too big, too vague, or too challenging. For example, someone might set a goal to lose 50 pounds in a month, which is unrealistic and sets them up for failure. Or someone might set a goal to “get fit,” without defining what that means or how they plan to achieve it. These goals are too vague and lack specificity, making them difficult to achieve.
Another reason people fail to follow through on their goals is that they don’t have a plan. They set a goal but don’t break it down into smaller, actionable steps. For example, someone might set a goal to write a book, but they don’t have a plan for how they will write it, how long it will take, or what steps they need to take to make progress. Without a plan, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up.
So, how can we set goals that actually stick? Here are some tips:
Start with your why
Before setting any goals, it’s important to start with your why. Why do you want to achieve this goal? What is the motivation behind it? Understanding your why will give you the drive and determination you need to stick with your goal, even when things get tough.
For example, if you want to lose weight, your why might be to improve your health, have more energy, or feel more confident. Understanding your why will help you stay focused on your goal and give you a reason to keep going, even when it’s hard.
Make your goals SMART
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When setting goals, make sure they meet these criteria. Specific goals are clear and concise, measurable goals can be tracked and monitored, achievable goals are realistic and attainable, relevant goals align with your why and are meaningful to you, and time-bound goals have a specific deadline.
For example, instead of setting a goal to “get fit,” set a SMART goal like “I will run a 5k in 3 months by following a training plan and running three times a week.”
Break your goals down into smaller steps
Once you have your SMART goal, break it down into smaller, actionable steps. This will make your goal more manageable and give you a clear plan for how to achieve it.
For example, if your goal is to run a 5k in 3 months, break it down into smaller steps like finding a training plan, buying running shoes, running for 10 minutes on day one, increasing to 20 minutes on day two, and so on.
Make a plan
Having a plan is crucial for achieving your goals. Make a plan that outlines the specific actions you will take to achieve your goal, and break it down into daily or weekly tasks. This will help you stay on track and make progress towards your goal.
For example, if your goal is to write a book, make a plan that outlines the specific steps you will take, such as researching your topic, outlining your chapters, writing for an hour every day, and so on.
Track your progress
Tracking your progress is important for staying motivated and seeing how far you’ve come. Keep a record of your progress and celebrate your wins along the way, no matter how small they may seem. This will help you stay motivated and continue working towards your goal.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, track your progress by weighing yourself weekly and keeping a food and exercise journal. Celebrate your wins, such as losing a pound or sticking to your workout plan for a week.
Accountability is key to sticking with your goals. Find someone who can hold you accountable, such as a friend, family member, or coach. Share your goals with them and ask them to check in on your progress regularly.
For example, if your goal is to save money, tell a friend or family member about your goal and ask them to check in with you weekly to see how much you’ve saved.
While it’s important to have a plan, it’s also important to stay flexible. Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes things don’t go according to plan. If you encounter a setback or obstacle, don’t give up. Instead, adjust your plan and keep moving forward.
For example, if you get sick and have to take a week off from running, adjust your plan and start back up where you left off once you’re feeling better.
Failure is a natural part of the goal-setting process. It’s important to embrace failure and use it as a learning opportunity. If you encounter a setback or fail to achieve your goal, reflect on what went wrong and what you can do differently next time. Remember, failure is not a reflection of your worth or ability.
For example, if you don’t meet your weight loss goal for the month, reflect on what might have contributed to the setback, such as a stressful week or a lack of sleep. Use this as an opportunity to adjust your plan and keep moving forward.
Setting goals is an important part of personal growth and development. By following these tips, you can set goals that actually stick and achieve the results you desire. Remember to start with your why, make your goals SMART, break them down into smaller steps, make a plan, track your progress, stay accountable, stay flexible, and embrace failure. With these tools in your toolbox, you can achieve your goals and create a more fulfilling and meaningful life.