Artificial moments like a new year, a birthday, or a major life change often make us pensive about what we want to have in our lives. These are often amazing moments to capture as we are ripe with creativity, desire, passion, and commitment. However, often many of us struggle to translate these goals into reality. There are many books, blogs, and more written about this and below is what I’ve found to be the most effective advice achieving my own goals.
1 - Have Goals
This might sound silly but the first step in goal setting is having goals. Note: dreams, wishes, ideas, and thoughts are not goals. These can be fantastic sources to brainstorm and come up with goals, but they are not goals. Goals are more specific and embed a commitment to making them happen (by a certain time period). Net net, the mere act of creating and articulating goals makes you much more likely to achieve them. Tip: start with brainstorming everything you potentially want then down-select to the critical few you want to commit to. I find mind mapping works well (I often start with an oval in the middle of the page that says “My life in 201X” and branch out from there).
2 - Write Them Down
Putting your goals into writing makes them real, helps them come alive, and engages your brain (it also makes them easier to share — we will get to that later). There are many ways to do this and I recommend having a hard copy in your physical space (I often paste mine in the cabinet I get vitamins from daily so I see them each morning). Further, have a soft copy (a note in your smartphone or on Evernote) so you can access and share them anytime.
- Scrub what you wrote of anything negative or what you don’t want (e.g. “drink less soda” or “not be so negative at work”). It is critical that you list only what you desire and not compare it to the past.
- Write goals in the present or past tense, as if you already have accomplished or achieved them (e.g. “I am a Certified Financial Planner”).
- Create categories with objectives to organize your goals, with a compelling tagline. For instance my “financial” category says “Powerfully Manage Abundance” and all specific goals listed below support that objective. Make sure you don’t have random goals or resolutions that sound good but aren’t supporting a larger objective for your life. Test: ask yourself “if I actually accomplished this, what difference would it make in my life?”
3 - Share Them With Others
This is where it really comes together after you’ve created your goals and written them down. When you share them you instantly put yourself and your commitments out into the universe. What can happen? Accountability to make them happen. Support and ideas to increase your chances. Encouragement to push ahead and keep going. Connections and recommendations to get what you want. Follow up to hold you to your commitments when you might want to give up. This is the one that really confronts people but makes the difference.
How to share: Given that our life plans and personal goals are, well, so personal, it can be very intimidating to share these with other people. Tip: start with your ‘fans’ who you know support you, and those who have achieved the goals you want. If you are new to this do it in person vs. email or text. Tell the person you’ve put together some goals for your life and that you would love their feedback and support. Make sure to not fall into the pitfall of hearing feedback as criticism; instead listen to it as shortcuts to getting you what you want in life.
I promise you doing these three simple yet powerful things will greatly increase you probability of success. Don’t stop at #2 - sharing also helps you convince yourself that you are committed to it and going to make it happen.
There are many advanced techniques that you can worry about when you’ve first done these three (perhaps I’ll write about these in the future). For now, make your focus about doing these three steps vs. doing it perfectly or in some sort of complex/elegant manner.
If you are hungry for a good pep talk about how powerful goal setting is and how to be really good at it listen to Brian Tracey’s audio book Goals. I’ve listened to it a few times and always left motivated to have laser-like focus on achieving what I really want in life.
Getting stuck? Have another tip or idea to share? Want advice? Comment below!