"People with goals succeed because they know where they are going...It's as simple as that." -Earl Nightingale
Last week, we checked in on our New Year's resolutions that might have been in need of a little TLC.
Goal setting is one of those things so many of us have heard about, know about, yet never really do much about.
We mean to. We really do.
We have a general idea about what we want to do, or we make a never-ending laundry list of to-dos (not the same as goals).
Sometimes we get on a roll and do start making goals, but lack intention or accountability, and watch our goal-setting ways go out the window.
I wanted to give you an easy breakdown on how to set goals because not all goals are created equal. Believe it or not, there’s a method to the goal-setting madness.
Goal Setting 101: Set Goals Like You Mean It
1. What do you want?
Begin by getting clear on what you want.
Think about driving (if you’re a New Yorker, think about taking the subway).
When you know where you want to go, you can set a location in your phone’s GPS and it will spit out multiple routes to get there. Some are faster, others slower, some have detours, but as long as you know where you’re going, the GPS will adjust and continue to give you a route that gets you where you want to go.
Goals work similarly.
When we have a clear idea of what we want, our brain’s GPS (nerd alert: the Reticular Activating System) can work to get us there. Our internal GPS will continue to adjust and maneuver until it gets us to our final location.
When we have vague, murky goals and don’t know what we want or where we’re going, we tend to “drive” around in circles.
Besides, If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
2. Make goals you actually want to achieve.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many of us are walking around with half-baked goals we don’t even want to achieve. Talk about a goal-stopper.
When we have goals that are exciting and pull us instead of push us, we're more likely to follow through and commit to them. Tara Mohr calls them "gift goals". I've heard them called "pleasure goals" as well.
Take your pick on what you call them, but this week, I want to encourage you to make goals that you actually want to achieve and are excited about.
Let’s chuck the goals you dread and have to push yourself to achieve. Deal?
3. Get clear and specific.
Goals love specificity.
Back to the GPS analogy…think about searching for a location in your phone's GPS. The more specific you are, the more accurate the location the map shows you.
Living in NYC, if I put "pizza" into the GPS on my phone, it pulls up hundreds of options...overwhelming. If I type in "Ludlow Pizza" (one of my favs), I get back one pin with a location and an address.
Our goals work the same way. The more specific we can get about where we want to go, our goal's "destination", the easier it is to map out a plan of action.
If you have a general goal of say, "save money”, it's more difficult to create a clear map. Whereas, if you get specific and make a goal of "save $25 every week" it's much easier to focus and map out a route to get there. It's also easier to see the potential detours and road blocks along the way.
4. Set positive goals.
Ok, so we already know we want clear and specific goals. But what about how we phrase them?
Positivity wins again. We want to phrase our goals positively without qualifiers.
"I'm not going to eat junk food" is a goal phrased in the negative. Our brain's GPS system picks up on this phrasing and will focus on "junk food.” No wonder we’re always craving junk when we’re trying not to eat it!
"I will eat clean, healthy food that fuels my body 5 nights this week" is phrased in the positive and is clear and specific.
5. Tie it to a deadline.
There's an unwritten life rule that something will take as much time as we have to finish it, and not a minute less. If anyone's ever written a paper last minute in college and somehow managed to get it in right on time, you've experienced this phenomenon.
Without a deadline, our goals are free to take their sweet ass time. Given our proclivity to forget our goals (ahem, New Year's resolutions), this doesn't do us much good.
Give your goals and yourself a deadline.
Like little kids, goals thrive under structure. If you're worried you can't reach your goal in your timeframe, I say, it's way better to fail trying and then readjust and recommit (or, you know, just set a more realistic deadline for yourself).
This week, I want to encourage you to set clear, specific goals you actually want to achieve!
Click the link if you want access to those goal-setting PDF’s from last week.
Want some accountability? Let me know in the comments below what your goals for the week are!
Wishing you your version of success!