It’s early January and at this time of year our thoughts often turn to new ideas, a change of direction, or making resolutions to improve our lives in some way. However, by the end of the month how many of us are still on track and focusing on those high intentions?
One reason why things fall by the wayside is because the way that many of us set goals at this time of year is to move away from something. For example, “smoking is bad for my health, therefore I am going to stop smoking” “I feel overweight, therefore I am going to stop eating cakes and biscuits” “I dislike my job, therefore I am going to start my own business”. What happens in these situations is that the further away you get from your starting point, the less motivated you become, because the pain of being in that situation starts to diminish the further away you get from it.
Another reason that our best intentions fall by the wayside is that our goals are often ambiguous, with no timescale attached to them and no clearly defined outcome. Additionally, looking at the 3 examples above, they are focusing on the negative and not the positive – and unconsciously the mind will focus on what you tell it to focus on.
So how can we ensure the best possible chance of achieving our goals?
- Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want
- Get specific with the detail, rather than having a vague aim
- Have a timescale to measure what you will achieve and by when
- Understand the reasons you have for wanting to achieve the goal (for what purpose, what will it bring you, how will it improve your life, how will it change things for the better)
- Check on a scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high) of how achievable you believe your goal to be. If it’s anything below a 5 or 6, have a good look at what the goal is or the timescale you have given yourself to see what you can change in order to make the achievability an 8 or more.
Once you have written a really good SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound), you can then start to plan actions which will help you achieve it.
Finally, plan in some mini-goals to help you know that you are on track and, most importantly, make sure that you know how you will celebrate achieving your goal!