Lots of us have goals we want to achieve in life but very few end up actually achieving them.
Why you ask?
Well it’s because we get too caught up in the end result and what it takes to get there rather than the journey it takes to get there. Often we feel overwhelmed by the task at hand that we tend to procrastinate or give up too soon because it seems too hard or near impossible to achieve.
It’s easier if we understand the reasons for wanting that particular goal in the first place so lets take a look at how we can do this.
- Firstly we need to define our goal
Let’s use an example:
Johnny has been running for about 6 months now, he runs about 3 times a week and has recently started joining his friend at some short trail runs which he is enjoying. He’s decided that he wants to move up from the shorter trails to the next level which means increasing his distances to approx 24kms
The first step is to break the goal down into smaller more manageable size chunks:
The what – to increase his trails runs from 8kms to approx 24kms
The why – He’s enjoying trail running and wants to take on a bigger challenge.
The how – He will need to increase his weekly training to build up to the bigger distances.
The when – what is the time frame within which you would like to achieve this goal eg. The next 24km trail run is 3 months away.
The Resources – depending on what the goal is, we may require resources that we don’t currently have e.g. knowledge or skills. Once you have identified what resources you need, you then need to assess how you can acquire them and by when e.g. getting a coach and how this fits into your time frame as it could have an impact on your end goal date.
Many people focus on the activity required to achieve their goal i.e. run 3 times a week and eat healthier as their goal instead of how achieving the goal will make them feel in the end and what it will do for them.
Should Johnny achieve his goal and complete his first 24km trail run, he will possibly feel – fitter, have more confidence on the trails, have more energy, feel healthier and better about himself and a better, more experienced runner.
This is what we need to focus on as the driving motivation behind our goal which keeps us going on those days when it seems tough or we are struggling to focus and maintain our regime.
- Break the goal down into smaller goals
This way you can track and measure your progress and it will give you a sense of accomplishment and of making headway. So in Johnny’s case if he wants to increase his running distance within 3 months, that works out to 12 weeks within which to achieve this. Is this realistically possible?
Focusing on a weekly target is more manageable and achievable than the overall end result of running 24kms.
- Watch your language and thoughts
Often it’s our, habits, thoughts and lifestyle that let us down or prevent us from achieving our goals.
Taking into account the language we use and the way we think about our goal e.g. I have to run 24kms can influence your progress. The words ‘have to’ sound negative in that you are being forced to achieve this goal and you have no other choice. This can leave one feeling demotivated and uninspired.
Making small changes such as using the words ‘I want’ to vs. ‘I have’ to is already making a change that can only contribute positively towards you achieving your overall goal.
We also need to take note of the language we use when we speak to ourselves and about the goal we are trying to achieve. If every time the alarm goes off for our training session and we tell ourselves “I’m so tired, I don’t have the energy” then that’s exactly how you will feel. Instead of if we use more positive and empowering language like “I know can do this, I’m making good progress, I’ve stuck to my training plan this week” then guess what – you will. As the saying goes – you are what you think.
- Reward yourself for small victories
Small rewards along the way help to keep the motivation levels going throughout the process. Let’s say Johnny manages to stick to his action plan of running 3 times a week and increasing his long run from 10km to 15km slowly building up to his target of running 24kms – he deserves to reward himself for being disciplined and sticking to his plan and to celebrate this small accomplishment in the greater scheme of things. This can be any type of reward that has appeal and will incentivise you to keep going e.g. a new pair of shoes, a running top, a massage, a treat etc.
- Get a partner in crime
At times it may also be beneficial to have a partner who wants to achieve the same goal. It helps to do it together as you keep each other honest, motivate each other and keep each other focused. This works for some people while others prefer not to have the pressure of having to be held accountable so find what works for you.
It also helps speaking about your goal to others, the more you share it chances are you’re going to stick to it as people will enquire about your progress.
- Don’t let the bad patches sway you
Everyone has a bad day now and then and that’s ok, we’re human after all. What’s important is that you don’t beat yourself up over it but rather get back on track as soon as possible. Let’s say Johnny’s willpower got the better of him and he skipped a training session plus had to work late the next day so missed 2 training days in a row. This does not mean all his efforts have gone to waste. Instead he needs to focus on getting back onto his exercise regime as soon as possible in order to keep the momentum going and to reach his goal.
- Visualisation is a good technique to use.
Every day visualise yourself achieving your goal. If you can see yourself achieving your goal and how that would look and feel, chances are you will. As they say, if you see it and believe it, you can achieve it.
Remember it’s small changes over time that result in big changes overall. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Paula Quinsee: Relationship expert, Tedx speaker and author of Embracing Conflict. She is a certified Imago Relationship Therapy Educator and Facilitator, NLP Life Coach, PDA Analyst, MyPDA Coach and PDA Trainer. As a Relationship Expert, she teaches individuals and companies tools and skills to immediately and positively enhance the quality of their personal and organisational relationships. She conducts regular monthly workshops, of which you can find more info here.