You have a goal you want to achieve. Awesome! Do you find yourself wishing for a magic wand?
Now is when the real battle begins.
Anyone that has ever tried to reach a goal would know – achieving big goals takes a lot of hard work and dedication. But, there are small things you can do to help yourself find a storybook ending.
These are my 4 top tips for you to help you achieve your goals the easiest way possible.
Don’t think big goals – just work on the next little step
By achieving small goals you can create motivation through self-efficacy or small wins. The more wins you put on the board the more your motivation will build.
So if you want to achieve your goals the easiest way possible, experiment with keeping your timeline under 2 weeks and just concentrate on one step at a time.
Extra tip – I always like to make the first step due by the end of the day to get myself off to a flying start!
Create a path of least resistance
We are creatures of habits and for most of us, habits are only created when we make it super easy for ourselves.
So, when you are planning your goals – plan to slip your required action into your existing lifestyle as simply as possible. Then, do as much setup as you can.
So, when it is time for action – you have done your best to make it easy for yourself.
Setting yourself up for success will minimise the excuses you make in the moment for not going after your goals. This will increase your chances of action taking!
Feel accountable to your goals
To give yourself a fighting chance I recommend finding an accountability system that works for you.
Here are a few examples:
1. Share your goals
But, do it with the right people. These are people that will support and encourage you.
2. Have other people hold you accountable
Try setting up an accountability partnership with a friend. Or, join/create a group of like-minded goal-achieving people.
3. Create accountability in your day
Display them in an obvious place so every day you can remind yourself to be responsible for your success.
Really understand your “Why?”
If you want the best chance of attaining a new goal – be VERY excited about it!
If you want to be VERY excited about your goal. You need to have a deep understanding of why you need this goal in your life and how it is important to you.
A helpful question to ask yourself is:
What will my life be like when I attain this goal?
After answering this question you want to be buzzing.
If you are not, you might want to think about shelving it for another time. And find something else to work on that lights you up.
Are you trying to achieve your goals the easiest way?
So, although this isn’t a fairy tale where all your wildest dreams will easily come true. If you keep these simple things in mind when you are taking action on your goals you can do to make your happy ending a little more achievable.
The more fleeting – jumping up and down with excitement and joy
The more enduring – feelings of contentment, fulfillment and worthwhileness derived from things that are meaningful.
The older we get the more we equate meaning in our lives (option 2) with a happy life. Additionally, having meaning in life has been linked to life satisfaction and better physical health and wellbeing.
So, if you are thinking about goals for the new year one place you might want to start is:
Think about the things in your life that bring you a sense of meaning.
And if it feels a little lacking – a great goal would be to aim to sprinkle extra meaningful things into your week.
A sense of purpose – or a driving reason to get out of bed in the morning – has many benefits to both your mental and physical health.
A sense of meaning is an important part of purpose. The other two important components according to research are:
Goals aligned to the pursuit of meaning &
The pursuit of the benefit of others.
If you are thinking about your purpose. A good place to start is to think about if you have a compelling reason to jump out of bed in the morning?
If you can’t think of one – it might be worth having a brainstorm. Think about:
How you can be of service to others, by
Doing activities that bring you meaning.
Then an excellent goal for the new year is to put a plan in place to make this happen.
Do you have enough things in your life at the moment that make you smile, laugh and bring you feelings of joy?
Above, I mentioned the kind of enduring happiness we get from meaning/purpose and the many benefits. But we need to make sure we have enough of the fleeting/exciting type as well!
Because the fact is your life can be chockablock full of purposeful and personally rewarding activities but you find that you are missing laughter, joy and play.
If this resonates with you, a good place to start is thinking about the things in your week that bring you joy, make you laugh/smile, feel fun and playful.
When you weigh them up against the other things in your week, does it feel enough?
If not, sounds like you have a fun goal to re-address the balance in your week!
Do you know what your core values are?
I like to think of core values as your most important boxes – that sit right in the foundations of who you are. They are tick boxes. And the more you tick these boxes the better you can feel about life.
These are the things that motivate your behaviour. But, you can ignore them and act in conflict without realising. And unfortunately, sometimes in life when we are so caught up in work, family, etc. We might not realise that these boxes are not getting ticked.
In my experience, living aligned with your core values can be the difference between a life that feels… blah and one that feels fulfilling.
So, adding more activities to your life that align with your core values could be a great goal for you to consider in the new year.
Are you someone that sees the glass is half empty or half full?
If you have read the above and thought to yourself:
“I have goals, meaning/purpose, happiness and value-aligned activities in my life. But I still feel like things should be better.”
You might need to work on your mindset.
The way we feel, react and interact (for the most part) is all a consequence of our choices. Whether conscious or not these are driven by our mindset.
And unfortunately, our brains are wired to be pretty negative (for safety reasons).
If you work on having a positive mindset then there is a chain reaction of positivity that can happen in your life.
If you neglect your mindset and let it sit comfortably in negativity, you can expect a negative chain reaction.
So, if you are feeling the glass is half empty right now – this is a great thing to work on (if you are willing to do the hard work!).
Our lives are not static and our goals can grow and change in the same way we do. They can be influenced by both internal and external factors. So, as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us – our goal journey can require tweaking.
If you feel out of touch with your goal journey. There is no need to worry. The answer to these three questions can help you evaluate and make required adjustments.
Am I still excited about my goal?
Many things in life can stop us from reaching our life goals. Such as:
Being distracted by other priorities
Feeling unmotivated to take action
Feeling overwhelmed by the process
These are all normal issues we need to overcome as part of the process. But if your goal journey has gone off the rails you should reflect to see if there are deeper reasons to consider.
If you are feeling out of touch with your goals – take the opportunity to check and make sure they are still right for you.
The key to your motivation is to ensure your goal journey still excites you.
Self-reflect on the following:
Am I still feeling excited about achieving my goals? If not, why not?
Once you reflect on the questions above – you should be in one of two places.
Ready to reinvigorate your goal journey: In which case – check-in with your goal plan and make any adjustments you need to move forward.
Ready to start again: It is never a bad idea to go back to the drawing board with your goals.
Has my life shifted?
As our life progresses and our experiences multiply and what brings us meaning will naturally evolve as a result. As this evolves – so will our goals.
If you feel out of touch with your goal journey – take the time to self-reflect. Perhaps subtle (or massive) changes in your life require your goals to shift gears.
Self-reflect on the following:
When I think about what is most important in my life – does anything different come up?
If it does – consider what effect it has on your goals and make any required changes.
Where is my focus?
Sometimes internal factors creep into the way we shape and achieve our goals. These can come from issues such as:
Fear of failure
Comparison with others
These factors can influence goals and behaviors, and change their focus.
We find ourselves focusing on these issues and not the goals we need to be working on. We can find ourselves modifying activities to protect ourselves from being uncomfortable. And we can focus on the dark tunnel and not the light we need to reach on the other side.
Self-reflect on the following:
What am I trying to achieve and what thoughts are stopping me from taking action.
Try to understand why you are having these thoughts. (Continue to ask yourself: But why do I think that until you hit a root cause?)
If required, revisit your goals – and make any changes required.
As your lives evolve – your goal journey will too.
So don’t be afraid to keep re-shaping your goals. Continue to self-reflect and make the changes you need to go full steam ahead.
After you have chosen the right goals – you must make sure you have everything in place you need to achieve them.
This will help you to start thinking logistically about your goal – but also about who you will need to support you and help you to be accountable.
For example, if a key resource can’t make time for you – you must put a plan in place to factor this in.
If they can’t help at this time – don’t automatically set the goal aside until they can. First, think about if there are other people that can help support this goal. Or, consider if there are other ways to achieve this goal.
Completing these three steps will support you to set off on a successful journey in no time. Just remember, the most important part is to understand “why” a goal is important to you. If this foundation is right – you will have clear skies from there.
This goal setting tip is the secret sauce for your goals
This goal setting tip will ensure you choose the best path for your goals. It can craft the vaguest goal into a well defined path. A pathway that is completely aligned with your values and priorities.
I call my #1 tip to rock your goal-setting world – Analysed goal setting.
This process involves brainstorming all the possible options to achieve your goals. Then, selecting the best path – based on your personalised criteria (which is done through a quick and easy analysis).
Now, you can do this on a bit of paper or similar. But, if you would like my fully loaded spreadsheet with preformatted formulas. Grab it below.
Superpowered goal setting tip in action
The reason this is my #1 goal setting tip is because I have used it to change my life.
At the time, I was unhappy with my job and I was ready for change. But, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
There is always a danger when you are not sure what change you want or need – you do nothing. You may just sit back and wait for something to change. (And this was the road I had taken… for years.)
However, unfortunately, (unless you are really lucky) doing nothing often has the unsurprising effect of nothing changing…
So, thankfully for my lacklustre life – I used this exercise.
I started with the loose goal “I need to do something about my life” and ended with a clear picture of my various options. Plus, an understanding of how each stacked up against what was important to me.
And perhaps the biggest takeaway at the time – the trajectory I was on – was the least aligned to my priorities.
So, today I want to walk you through the process – so you can change your life too.
#1 Goal setting tip kick off – the prerequisite
The first thing you need for this exercise – is to decide on a goal.
Maybe it’s a new job, greater life balance, a passion project – or, maybe you just know you what something different.
But what I will say is this should be the wildest and wackiest brainstorming sesh you have ever had.
For example – if we use the loose goal of “changing jobs to something better”.
You would list obvious options (including stay in the current job) but if you have ever thought of being Prime Minister – put that – if you have wished you were a 1950s housewife – put that – Astronaut – ditto – professional couch potato – samesies.
The idea is to completely clear the options out of your head – the practicality of your options sort themselves out in the next steps.
#1 Goal setting tip step 2: Criteria
The next step is to decide the criteria you will use to rate the suitability of your options. This will allow you to calculate how they stack up against each other and your priorities (ie whether they are winners or not).
As part as your criteria – I recommend you use your core values.
These are the boxes that you must have ticked in the ideal world. Or in this case – your ideal job.
These are your foundational priorities that will make you feel fulfilled and content.
(If you have never done a core values exercise, or it has been a while, I recommend doing one now. If you would like access to mine – check out Day 2 of my free email course).
To use me as an example – my core values are:
Learning (ie. I always want to to be learning)
Challenged (ie. I always want to have challenges to unpack)
Helping (ie. I am happiest when I feel I am helping people)
And given the nature of our wild and wacky brainstorming – I would add another:
Practical (eg. it’s probably not practical to think I could turn back time to the 1950s)
You might like to have additional criteria relating to ease, cost, time etc.
#1 Goal setting tip step 3: Analysis
Now you have a set of criteria – you will use this to rate your brainstorming options.
So, review each option and give it a score for how well it meets each criteria.
My example: Astronaut (I will use a score of 1-4)
Learning – 4 (I imagine you would be learning all the time)
Challenged – 4 (I think it would be ridiculously challenging to be an astronaut)
Helping – 2 (I guess you might be helping the world in the broader sense with your achievements – but it wouldn’t be like a teacher who helps people directly every day)
Practical – 1 (There could be many reasons for this – but I am going to go with the fact that because I am ridiculously claustrophobic there is little chance I could do anything spaceship related [I haven’t rated it 0 because there is no required time travel])
So total score: 11
I would now go on to score the rest of my options.
#1 Goal setting tip step 4: Review
Now that you have a score against each of your options – you will be able to look at your highest-rated options and see which options align best with what is important to you and why.
From this list you can pick your most suitable goal.
The next step would be building a plan to start putting your perfect goal into action.
Do you find obstacles in achieving goals? You are not alone. You might come across them during the goal-building journey or in the process of pursuing them.
But, if you have trouble getting started on your goal journey or find your goals forever changing – your main obstacle may be your self-sabotaging brain.
The key to this problem is to make sure your goals are deeply rooted in your understanding of why you want to make this change.
Below are two examples of self-sabotaging obstacles you might face and what to do about them.
Obstacle 1 – Your brain isn’t ready for change
If you have a goal that you can’t seem to get started – think about whether you are really feeling motivated and ready to make changes.
I recently asked my friend who is an exercise physiologist (a qualified professional who trains their clients to recover from injury, lose weight or reach other exercise related goals) – whether she can generally see a difference between her clients that are likely to achieve their goals and those that aren’t.
She told me that she can work out a client’s likelihood of success within the first two minutes of meeting them. The difference between clients is how they talk about their goal.
For example, if a client says “I am here because my doctor says I need to lose weight” – there is probably a 0% chance they will meet their goal.
If a client comes in and says “I want to be able to lift my grandchild without pain” – there is a much higher chance of success.
This can be explained by the Stages of Change concept. This tells us – you will only succeed with your goal journey if you are truly motivated and ready to do so.
These are the Stages of Change in a nutshell:
Precontemplation – You do not intend to change (may be unaware of or underestimating issue)
Contemplation – You begin to contemplate change (aware of the issue – may still be ambivalent)
Preparation/Determination – Ready and starting to make a change (Goal setting time!)
Action – Making change & intend to keep going
Maintenance – Sustaining new behaviour & intend to keep going (working to prevent relapse)
So from my friend’s perspective – she can tell within 2 minutes what Stage of Change you are in and whether you are ready for the journey.
Can you think of a goal that never seems to get off the ground?
Ask yourself – Are you feeling ready to make change or maybe you are still feeling ambivalent?
Obstacle 2 – Your brain is sabotaging you
If you have decided that you don’t need to achieve your goal anymore – it might not be that your intention or goal has genuinely changed. It might be because your brain has put it in the too-hard basket.
To make life easier for you – your brain has the (slightly unhelpful) ability to convince you that you are in fact happy with the status quo and the hard work of your goals is unnecessary.
Example goal – Trying to lose weight
Losing weight is the easiest thing in the world – said no one ever.
Weight loss is hard.
Obviously, there are those people that love to eat healthily and exercise – I’m not talking about those lucky sons of b*ches here. I’m talking about normal people.
I personally think there are two main reasons this is so hard:
Food is pretty much the best thing ever – so having to reduce things or modify the diet that makes us happy sucks &
Exercise (of the proper weight loss variety) is hard and often not terribly enjoyable – and who wants to do something hard and not enjoyable.
Now – to make matters worse – our brain can dislike participating in these weight loss activities so much – it can convince us we are in fact happy at our given weight. This way it (and we) can avoid the unenjoyable hard work of reaching our weight loss goal.
So – regardless of how much your body doesn’t want to play the weight loss game – your brain isn’t that interested either.
Have you ever found yourself giving up on a goal – because you decided that it didn’t matter anymore? Have you ever decided the hard work required to achieve a goal wasn’t worth it – because in fact the status quo was okay?
How to fight these obstacles in achieving your goals
Before you start taking action on your goals
Next time you are setting goals – ask yourself:
Do you have the correct mindset to dedicate yourself to this goal?
Are you feeling really motivated and ready to make this change?
Do you know why you want to make this change?
Do you feel excited and ready for the challenge?
What excites you the most about achieving the goal?
Will it be worth all the hard work?
Remember: If you aren’t in the right Stage of Change – you can save yourself the effort (& time & money) because you won’t have the mindset to drive you to your goals.
If your goal has dropped off the radar
Self-reflect to ensure that it isn’t your brain sabotaging you – by going back to the beginning of the goal-making process.
Remind yourself what your goal is and why it is your goal. Ask yourself (again):
Why is this goal important to you?
What are the benefits for your life if you achieve this goal?
What will it feel like when you achieve this goal?
Re-clarifying why this is your goal can re-invigorate your motivation and this might be enough to spark you back into positive action.
But if things still feel lackluster… Start again! There is nothing wrong with starting the goal-making process again – if you have lost your enthusiasm.
So – next time you are struggling to get your goals off the ground. Self-reflect and make sure your brain isn’t being an obstacle in achieving your goals.
Do you have trouble getting your goals going?
Drop a comment below and let us know your struggles.