How many times have you set a goal, whether it’s to study a short course online to get a promotion or to exercise daily to lose weight, that doesn’t get achieved? I’m guessing most of us have a few goals that just didn’t get kicked.
If you’re tired of setting career or personal goals that don’t get achieved, maybe you’re not doing it right. Psychologist Stella Franzese from Lysn gives us her top five tips on how to set and achieve smart goals.
1. Break it Down
“Many of us have long-term goals we want to achieve, but sometimes those goals can seem too big and therefore out of reach,” says Franzese. “Breaking down these goals into smaller steps is key as it’s important to have the end goal in sight without becoming lost, overwhelmed and demotivated: step by step is the key!”
“So, if buying a house is on your list, start smaller and look at things like your savings budget and breaking down the steps to achieve your financial goals. If you’re looking to lose weight this year, break it down into kilos and time frames so that you’re only focusing on losing smaller amounts of weight each time.
“It is crucial that each ‘step’ is achievable; otherwise, you’re only setting yourself up to fail. If you want to get creative, make a visual chart with your ultimate goal at the top, with each cumulative step underneath. Design it any way that suits you, just make sure that it is placed somewhere that you see every day; it could be on your fridge or in your bedroom.”
2. Build a Plan
“The biggest mistake you can make when goal setting is working on a goal without having a plan on how you’ll achieve it. How many times have we said, ‘I’ll start my diet on Monday’ without planning our healthy meals or exercise schedule? This usually results in a breakdown in commitment, a lack of action, becoming frustrated and making the same vague promise two weeks later. What is missing here? The planning, structure, action and commitment!”
Franzese recommends working towards a plan that is underpinned with structure, clarity, commitment and focus. “It is crucial that your plan includes goals and actions that are measurable and achievable. For example, a goal to get fit is not as measurable as being able to run ten kilometres. A measurable goal assists in planning and increases success! Now that you have a measurable goal to work towards, your plan might include five kilometre runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons for the month of January, to increase to seven kilometre runs in February.
“As another example, if your dream is to start a blog, your plan could be to get up an hour early every day and work on the content before you head to your 9 to 5 job. If this plan is in place and you’re willing to focus on it everyday, the only thing that might stand in your way is hard work. They say a goal without a plan is only a dream, and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to achieving your dreams.”
3. Set a Deadline
“Setting a deadline is a key component in building a plan, because without one, other tasks will take priority and before you know it, six months have passed, and you haven’t even thought about your goal again.” Franzese suggests making clear deadlines to help you focus and prioritise your tasks, but be sure to make sure that the deadline is realistic and achievable.
“That brings us back to the breaking it down point, if it seems too unrealistic and out of reach, chances are the goal will seem overwhelming and you won’t work towards achieving it. With clear and achievable deadlines, you can easily work away at tasks, ticking off goals each time. Ensure that your deadlines are set, don’t change them at your own convenience or due to laziness,” she says.
4. Do the Work
“Sounds like simple and obvious advice, right? Well it’s surprising how often this point gets overlooked, because whilst having goals is important, many people fail to realise that you have to put in the hours to make things happen.”
Franzese says setting some time aside each day to work on your goal, even if it’s only an hour each morning, adds up at the end of the week; seven hours working on your goal is a lot more productive than hitting the snooze button!
Breaking down our workload also helps with procrastination and feeling overwhelmed, says Franzese. “Try to remove whatever fuels your procrastination; for example, put your phone away if you’re a procrasta-facebooker, or stay away from the kitchen if you’re a procrasta-eater.
“Moreover, it is important that you enjoy what you are doing, otherwise your motivation and goal-directed behaviour won’t last long. If running isn’t for you, but you love the pool, go for a swim. If you dread being stuck inside a room, take your laptop outside with a cup of coffee. Also, have a Plan B for when life gets in the way. Finally, be sure to praise yourself for your achievements and hard work. Once you start to see the fruits of your labour, you’re more likely to keep going!”
5. Ask for Help
“There’s that saying that goes ‘many hands make light work’ and when it comes to achieving your goals, this really is true,” says Franzese. “Asking for help from your support networks can not only offer solutions to your problems, but the act of talking about your challenges to friends and family can ease some of the mental pressure you may have put on yourself.
Franzese says asking for help can make navigating unknown terrain much easier, can save you time and provide inspiration or generate better ideas. “Another idea could be to connect with someone who has already achieved your goals and use this inspiration to fuel your goal-directed actions. Alternatively, you can ask a friend to keep you accountable and monitor you, to ensure that you keep your eye on the prize! Although almost embarrassing to share your challenges with others, sometimes it is better to push your pride or fear aside and reach out to those who are willing to support you.”