From a young age I grew up in a house where goal setting was just an everyday occurrence. As an adult, I now realize what a beneficial tool this has been throughout my own life. Almost everything I want to accomplish or anything I want to achieve can be categorized as a goal. And goals are not the same as resolutions or wishes. No, goals should be looked at as something that WILL be attained. The first step to setting and achieving the goals you want is to change that small, yet powerful, mindset.
Looking at goals as something that you will have (and something you’re close to getting) can help push yourself forward. When you talk to yourself like your in the process of achieving these goals, or better yet, that you HAVE achieved these goals, your brain hears this. Our brains can work for us when we’re choosing the right language and positivity. It propels us forward and keeps us on the fast track to achieving our dreams.
There are some other really important things to keep in mind when setting goals. Whether it’s goals for the day, the week or for this next year, you can make sure that you’re hitting your mark every time by following these ideas:
1. Be Specific
2. Answer the "How?"
3. Five Steps or Less
Five Steps or Less: Some dreams are really big and they have to be broken down into a few steps. These really big dreams might be more long term and require several steps. But for a more short term, attainable goal, it’s best to keep it to five steps or less. This makes it easier for our brains to digest and accomplish.
For example, if your goal is to pay off debt it might include a step of starting a budget, another step of reducing spending and yet another step of increasing your income coming in. These are all small steps to break down your end goal. By breaking it down into these small, attainable steps, you not only sort it out for your brain, but you also keep momentum as you knock out “mini goals” on the way to the big one.
It’s like a weight loss goal. If you’re looking to drop a particular amount of weight, each pound you lose is likely to give you another push forward. When you see yourself accomplishing parts of what you set out to do, it feels good! You’re basically validating yourself and the hard work you’re doing.
4. Being Realistic is Key
Don’t make your goals so big they’re out of reach. If your goal is to run a marathon by the end of summer and you’re not a runner at all, you may want to rethink that goal. This isn’t meant to sound harsh or sound negative at all. But we have to be realistic about our bodies, our schedule and our current circumstances. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set goals that are maybe a LITTLE too big. If a goal is too small, you won’t be pushing yourself to get there. If a goal is too big, you’ll likely be bummed when you don’t hit it and won’t continue setting more goals in this area.
The key is to make that goal JUST the right size. This might take a little planning and thinking on your part, but it’s completely doable. Just analyze your life and where you are currently. Make sure you’re working forward and at the right pace. Reverse engineering a goal is a great way to put in perspective the work involved to get there.
If you’ve already gone through your steps to get to the goal, start by checking in on those. Are they attainable? If the steps need to be tweaked and changed slightly, you can change your end goal based on those. It’s a really good way to double check and make sure you’re expectations are in line with your lifestyle and circumstances.
5. Work it into Your Daily Routine or Schedule
I use a to-do list app every day where I have my steps for my goals listed out. One big dream we have is to pay off our house. That means every day I have a to do list item to check in on our budget app, look at where money is going and check on what’s coming in. It literally takes me five minutes of my morning routine, but I make sure I do it to stay on track.
You can even add a calendar appointment to your phone if you need help remembering it or staying committed. This works especially well if your goal is fitness related. Scheduling that time to work out or that time to meal prep can be key. If it’s on a calendar, you’re more likely to do it.
6. Is Your WHY Big Enough?
This is going to be completely personal to each individual. But, looking at your why is HUGE. Most often I hear people say that their “Why” (or the reason they want to make this goal SO bad) is because of their kids. They want their kids to see a healthy example, or they want to provide for their kids in a particular way. Whatever the reason, just know that understanding why you want something can help you achieve your goals and stick with them.
Often if our “why” is a more surface reason, or a shallow reason, we won’t stick with it. If you’re eating healthier to look more toned for the beach this summer, you might not stick with your habits come September. If you’re wanting to get more organized for tax time, you may not stick with it after that.
When your reasoning for achieving these goals is bigger and a deeper level, you will not only stick with these goals, but you’ll probably make these habits and changes to your life permanent.
You might have to dig deep with this one. Is the reason you want to change your exercise habits to make life less cumbersome? Is it so that you feel more comfortable in your own skin? Is it to break a family cycle and stop it dead in its tracks? Whatever it is really think about it and make sure it’s deep enough that you’ll stick with it for the long haul.
7. Focus on One Goal at a Time
But really planning out one goal at a time is the key. Once you’ve got it planned out and you’ve got those steps as part of your daily habits and routines, you can move on to the next goal and start moving forward. Stagger those goals a bit and make sure you’re not overwhelming yourself or taking on too much at once.
Seeking a balanced life through healthy living and a healthy environment
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