As I write this we are well into January and at the point that New Years resolutions start to fade and resolve starts to wane
It's all very well having great intentions to lose a stone or get your finances under control, but how do you actually follow through and actually "make it happen"? when enthusiasm starts to fade and the lure of the TV is greater than the gym
We need motivation to keep going, so if I find that I am on the slide for any goal I have set, I aim to adopt a 3 step process which is the purpose of this article
How to Achieve Your Goals
Here is my 3 step process to hitting your goals
- Make sure your goals are defined properly
- Redouble your efforts
- Make yourself accountable to someone
Coming soon is a free guide available to download which goes into all of this in much more detail but i am going to summarize here... in the meantime read this article at mindtools.com about personal goal setting
1. Make Sure Your Goals Are Properly Defined
In essence aim to make them SMART goals. Here is an article on setting SMART goals, but whatever you do, don't get too lost in the jargon.
Essentially SMART goals are setting goals which are measurable, timebound and realistic
Thus instead of defining a goal of "I want to lose weight" you can rewrite your goal as
"My goal is to lose one stone by the end of July before my holiday"
or even better break it down
"My goal is to lose 2 pounds a month by the end of July before my holiday"
This goal is both measurable, realistic and timebound
In financial terms a goal of "I want to save money" would be better rewritten as
"My goal is to save $1000 for my holiday"
Or broken down as
"My goal is to save $150 per month towards spending money for my holiday"
Again, measurable (you can track progress month on month), realistic (you are doing something which is achievable) and timebound (you have said when you are going to achieve it by)
So that is all about defining goals properly, what about actually achieving them?
So go back and look at the goals you have set yourself
- Are they measurable? (and do you actually measure them)
- Are they actually achievable (and ask yourself how you are going to achieve them?)
- Are they timebound? (do they have a "when" defined)
Now I am not going to talk too much about a "plan of execution" in this article, this is more about how you get back on course if your goals are slipping for whatever reason. essentially how to achieve your goals if they are slippping a bit!
2. Redouble Your Efforts
Assuming your goals are properly defined and realistic, what happens if you start to slip?
Here is my answer - redouble your efforts
Work extra hard to hit your dates - otherwise there is no real point in setting goals
You can give yourself a bit of tolerance if you really want to - such as losing 10 pounds or saving $800 may be acceptable - but I urge you that instead of giving up or reducing your goal - redouble your efforts
Think of your end date as an immovable target which you must hit.
Imagine that some big boss is going to come and see you at the end of July and you are going to have to present to them what you have achieved?
Think about dates from your past where it simply "has to come together", dates which are simply not movable.
- Christmas Day
- Customer deadlines at work
- Your wedding day
For all of the above, things had to come together for that day. There is no changing of dates or lowering of standards.
What would you do if things were not coming together for your wedding day?
You would re-double your efforts
You would sit down (with your partner and any other support you have) and work out what you need to do to hit your target and then you would go ahead and do it
Treat your own personal goals in the same way
- If you are not losing 2 lbs a month then redouble your efforts by taking more exercise or re-evaluating your diet
- If you are not saving $150 a month then work out where you can save even more money or where you can earn more money
Don't give up on your goal - remember the reasons you defined your goal in the first place - and re-double your efforts to get there
3. Make Yourself Accountable to Someone
Here's a question for you:
Why do you tend to get stuff done at work and meet your goals and deadlines (assuming you do) but you tend to fail when it comes to your personal goals and deadlines?
One reason is that you have 8 hours straight at work to concentrate on just that, but essentially the main reason is that you have a boss or team leader or a manager who you are accountable to
If you don't deliver your work to your deadlines then you get sacked
You should adopt the same philosophy for your personal goals
Make yourself accountable to someone so that at the end of the month you "present" to them what you have achieved
This is the reason that people get personal trainers or life coaches - not only do they provide a framework to work within, but you are also accountable to them for your achievements
It's best if your accountability partner is not your partner (as they often have a vested interest in the outcome, especially financially) but it could be that you embark on your goal achievement quest with somebody who has similar goals in mind and you are accountable to each other
This also works well for motivation
For instance if your goal is exercise related you may go for regular runs together
Or if financial then review each month what you have achieved
And if you have hit your target treat yourself (appropriately of course)
And if you haven't hit your target then withdraw the treat
Work out what works best for you, but essentially being able to share your achievement with somebody works wonders for your motivation and morale, and on the flip side having to justify your non-achievement with somebody should make you increase your motivation to achieve and redouble your efforts
Good luck in achieving your goals - whether they are health, fitness, financial or self-improvement related - especially if you are flagging somewhat. I hope this article has given you motivation and a little guidance as to how to achieve your goals