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Are you looking to improve your life measure by measure, knocking out milestones and making your dreams a reality? Maybe you’re pining for a healthier exercise routine or dreaming of a better work/life balance. Whatever you want to accomplish, there are clear ways to reorient yourself and achieve a goal successfully every time.
Making a difference in your life can stem from many areas, from finances to relationships. Steps to achieve a goal in any category begin with outlining what you want. Consider personal and professional aims in your brainstorming stage to make sure you choose a goal that will truly benefit you.
These goals can be in any area outside of your work life. Striking that balance ensures you can explore your ideas and passions outside of that 9–5. These personal goals must also be something you can control. It would be nice to set an objective to become fluent in French in three months, but that would be nearly impossible. Set yourself up for success by choosing achievable and exciting goals.
Personal goals may follow concrete skills and improvements like finances and health, but soft skills are also important. What goals can increase your inner sense of adventure? What about compassion or creativity?
Some popular personal goals that people embark on every day are:
Work and school goals are a little different because they usually involve peers and managers. Your growth will be noticeable and may affect your standing or future promotions. Working with your advisor to track progress or introduce new ideas is a great way to develop your expertise and happiness at work.
If you’re interested in team-wide or company-wide goals, take a moment to brainstorm with all parties involved so the great ideas can get flowing even faster. Quarterly performance goals are more efficient than annual ones, so regular goal-setting benefits employee confidence and business growth.
Common work and school goals may involve growth in:
Once you decide where your area of focus is, you can start digging into these reliable steps to achieve a goal.
Whatever your goals may be, you have the inherent ability to meet those milestones. Careful planning, frequent progress touchpoints and shifting mindsets are all vital to achieving your dreams. With these steps, you are ready to make your hopes a reality.
Achieving a goal is all about setting yourself up for success. Dreams should stretch your abilities and perseverance, so these steps explore everything from planning to mantras to more concrete reminder systems.
Feel free to experiment and push the boundaries of each step as well. Depending on your personality, situation and goal, your ideal path to success may look a little different.
Kick things off by setting the parameters of your goal. The ideal goal would be specific and time-based. What are you trying to achieve and how will you know when it’s done?
For example, a goal to run longer distances does not give the runner any sense of direction or accomplishment. Instead, a target of running a 5K in three months is specific by outlining the distance and ultimate timeline. In this planning stage, it’s also crucial to outline any resources or tools you may need. Does this metaphorical runner need new shoes or a distance tracker to chart their progress?
Brainstorming and experimenting with the parameters here will give you a better sense of what you’re truly working toward.
Every journey starts with a single step. How can you jumpstart your action plan today? Maybe you pick up a beginner French book from the library. You don’t even have to flip through the pages yet — take comfort in knowing you took that first leap into learning a new language. With every little step, you are incrementally moving toward success. In fact, the Pareto principle says 80% of your progress comes from 20% of your efforts, so starting small can mean a huge difference.
On days when your energy is low or packed with work meetings, brainstorm small ways you could still contribute to your progress. You can watch your favorite TV show with a French dub to absorb those sounds without cracking too hard into speaking and vocabulary that day.
Mindset is everything. Because sticking to goals can be tough, you need your inner strength and peace to be your support system. How can you welcome positivity and confidence into your routine? For many people, this means relying on a mantra or intentional phrasings that reaffirm your inner belief in yourself.
Around 20% of Americans struggle with anxiety disorders, and that doubt or fear can be debilitating. Your anxieties may even be part of the obstacles on your goal path. Seeking therapy or medical help may be in the cards for you, but many people find centering practices like yoga, mantras and meditation beneficial as well.
In these meditation sessions, try to visualize what your life will look like after completing this goal. Will you feel more energized, happier, healthier or more worldly? Snatching positivity by the reigns and letting it guide your journey is the key to success.
As you dig deeper into your progress, keep a detailed record of events. With all the facts, you are better equipped to reflect on your journey and grow in the coming weeks. You can even use your past self as a competitor.
Remember that progress is not a straight line either. It can be zig-zag lines, curly cues and rollercoasters. From every dip or roadblock, you learn to traverse and overcome challenges. At the end of every week, take note of these key areas:
Treating every week as a fresh start storied by the progress of past weeks ensures you steadily chug forward.
Keep your reminders visible as well. You could leave sticky notes on the fridge so you remember to choose healthier snacks. Some apps lock you out after a particular amount of time scrolling has passed, so you can focus at work or school.
Label your alarms if your goal is time-based, like waking up early. If your alarm was blaring and accompanied by a neutral or even rude message like “Get up!,” then you’re targeting yourself with negativity. Changing those alarm titles to encouraging messages like “Good morning!” or “Time to greet the sunshine!” fosters a sense of self-confidence and positivity.
It may also help to lean on friends and family for support during your goal journey. A buddy system gives you concrete accountability and a shoulder to rest on when the going gets tough. After a long day at work, your gym buddy may bring the refreshing energy you need to hit the treadmill.
Even if no one is on the same path as you, still take the time to share your goal progress with others. If you stuck to a tight budget this month to meet your overspending goals, celebrate by texting your friends. Even a quick “congratulations” is gratifying.
If you’re on a running goal, you’re probably familiar with crossing finish lines, but have you considered mini-finish lines? These touchpoints celebrate smaller progress wins on your journey to the big final goal. If you’re learning a new language, maybe you successfully wrote a letter without checking the dictionary this time. Give yourself credit where credit is due and find a way to celebrate!
Positive reinforcement is great for a lot of people. Grab your favorite latte, celebrate with a night on the town or take a trip somewhere out of the ordinary. However, be sure the reward matches the nature of the finish line. A mini-finish line shouldn’t be as elaborate as the one for the finished goal. You still want that glimmer in your eye and the hope of the final reward in your back pocket as you surge forward.
Your sights are on the final sprint and your goal is nearly accomplished. Now that you’re nearing the end, it’s time to reflect. What worked well in this process and what might need tweaking? Even if your journey didn’t end as well as you hoped, there’s no need to count it as a “failure.” Instead, this is one step of a larger journey and a chance to learn.
If you did achieve a goal successfully and with flying colors, where can you stretch next? How can you expand this milestone into the future? Growing and adapting to new aims guides you to a happier lifestyle as you meet challenges head-on and successfully steer into accomplishment.
Now that you know the roadmap and steps to achieve your dream goals, what tips and tricks can you apply to this process? The five R’s of goal setting and the five elements of a good goal shift your mindset to what matters in your journey and how to tailor your ideas into the strongest plans possible. With these tips in your back pocket, you are even better equipped to improve your life.
The five R’s of goal setting are results, reasons, reflections, resources and responsibilities. Here’s a detailed look at each and how to use them to achieve a goal successfully.
The best goals center around achieving results. General ideas and hopes not backed by metrics or data will be hard to track. Even more troubling, you might never know when you’re truly done with this benchmark.
Ask yourself, “How soon can I achieve this goal? What deadlines or touchpoints can I plan for the coming months? What data and resources can I use to track my progress? How will I know when I’m done?”
Next, understand why you are pursuing this goal. If there isn’t a concrete motivation here, you might lose steam, especially when facing roadblocks. Make sure your reasons are coming from a positive and honest place too.
If you’re looking at a goal to eat healthier, your reason should be to feel better, not because of a low body image. This may lead to toxic relationships or even something as dangerous as eating disorders.
Sometimes progress is about taking a break and re-evaluating. If you are blustering on without reflection, you may be moving in the wrong direction without realizing it. Take frequent stock of where you are, how you feel and what might need to be upgraded about your process.
What are you using to achieve your goals? Are you learning from a trusted mentor or studying how-to books from the library? Are there local classes or online courses available for registration? It’s easy to say, “I want to learn how to bake every dessert on the Great British Baking Show,” but learning how to do that will probably take research and the right baking tools or ingredients.
Have a backup plan if your dream class is already full or the perfect how-to resource is less helpful than the back cover blurb suggested.
Finally, take full responsibility for your journey. You’re in a vulnerable position when you’re stretching for a goal. At the start, you aren’t an expert in cooking or speaking another language, so there are bound to be mistakes and even disasters along the way.
However, rest assured that mistakes make you human. They help people grow and shape the future. By owning your successes and mistakes, you can meet challenges and flash to the finish line of your goal.
Creating a SMART goal can sum up the five elements of a good goal. This acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, and it outlines all the parameters of a great plan.
Specificity is all about defining your roadmap. What do you want to achieve and how will you achieve it? What are the stages of this process? How might it interact with other areas of your life, like relationships and work?
How will you measure the progress of your goal? If you say, “lift more at the gym every week,” it’s hard to tell where you started and where you want to end up. What types of weights are you using and how heavy are they? How you’ll know when you’ve reached your goal is vital too. With no finish line in sight, it’s easy to lose motivation.
Your goals should be ambitious, but they shouldn’t be impossible. This is an excellent opportunity to come face to face with perfectionism. Around 92% of people are affected by perfectionism, which alters performance at work and general well-being. Your unachievable goal could stem from this, but recognizing your true potential and abilities ensures you have the confidence to meet any good dream.
Ask yourself, “Do I have power over the outcome of this goal? If so, what potential roadblocks may arise along the way?”
Relevancy seeks to make the most impact on your life. If you choose a goal about learning to cook but are struggling with sticking to a financial budget, you should table the cooking goal. As you progress and meet more finish lines, tackling objectives in more areas of life becomes easier. However, be sure to focus on the highest priority goals, even if they aren’t as fun.
Your goal should also stick to a clear deadline and create some sense of urgency. Deadlines far in the future may ease you into a sense of forgetfulness. However, seeing that circle on the calendar gives a clear boundary and endpoint.
Additionally, think about when you can work on this goal. Is the morning your quiet time to dig into deep work or are you a night owl?
When you achieve a goal successfully, you make your life more meaningful and well-rounded. Fitness, relationships, love, health and mental well-being are all within your grasp when you have careful planning and a secure set of tips to dive into your progressive journey.
As a final step, take a deep breath. Making goals should be exciting, as they are meant to improve your life and happiness. With the proper preparation and tools, you can accomplish your dreams.