Do you ever feel like you’re not achieving your goals, no matter how hard you try? It’s not uncommon to feel this way, but the good news is that you’re already ahead of most people just by setting goals. Now you just need to tweak your approach. Here are eight ways to get you started on the right path.
1. Set the right types of goals
Setting big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAG) is a great way to create strategic and emotionally-driven goals. Emotional connection is crucial for achieving big life goals. Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, suggests setting HARD goals: Heartfelt, Animated, Required, and Difficult. Goals need to be urgent and necessary, dragging you out of your comfort zone, activating your senses and attention.
2. Map out your plan
It’s not enough to have a goal. You need an action plan to accomplish it too. Many people fail at achieving their goals because they set goals but do not follow up with an action plan. Breaking down your goal into smaller and more achievable steps will allow you to focus on doing small things every day. Plan one or two actions you can take each week.
3. Visualize and reflect
Visualizing yourself reaching your goals, including the process and work, is important. Form a lasting picture in your mind that will sustain your motivation over time. According to social scientist Frank Niles, visualizing an act creates a neural pathway that primes our body to act in a way consistent to what we imagined.
4. Write yourself a letter
John Carlton, the legendary copywriter, suggests writing a letter to yourself, dated one year ahead. The letter should describe your life one year from now. This technique is a great way to use visualization to map out your desired outcome in your mind.
5. Take action every day
Don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. The best way to learn is by doing and to embrace failure—it’s the stepping stone to success for all successful people and their long-term goals. Everyday actions don’t have to be big. You simply need to take one small step in the right direction.
6. Tell others
Having to stay accountable to someone is a great motivator for achieving your goals. Find someone to act as an accountability partner and spend time explaining which goals or healthy habits you’re trying to work on. You just need someone who will check in on how you’re doing with your goal.
7. Plan for setbacks
Good goal-setting is like boxing: you need to learn to roll with the punches because you know you’re going to get hit. The best way to minimize the impact of setbacks is to plan for them. Have a contingency plan for when things go wrong, and be prepared to react and learn from those setbacks.
8. Evaluate your progress every week
Ask yourself: what did I do this week to get closer to my goal? What worked? What didn’t? Consider using a journal to reflect on the progress you made (or didn’t). Check this journal each time you feel unsure of how to proceed.
Don’t forget to celebrate your progress along the way. It’s great to dream big, but that also means you need to plan big. The bigger your goal, the more organization and motivation it will require. If you’re prepared to put in the effort of making a step-by-step plan and following it to the best of your ability, set your sights high and get started.