How to Set Goals and Actually Achieve Them
Can we talk about effective goal setting?
“New Year is the glittering light to brighten the dream-lined pathway of the future.” Munia Khan.
A new year is a new opportunity to create the foundation of the best version of yourself, achieve your dreams and live the life you desire. One of the first things everyone attempts to do when each new year starts is put together new year’s resolutions. But there’s a running joke on social media about setting these resolutions: how it’s simply a formality or simply part of a bandwagon effect. New year’s resolutions or goals don’t have to be just another list that you create only to forget as the year ticks by only to feel guilty about not hitting your targets.
Here’s a few tips on how you can set better goals and hopefully achieve them like a rock star:
Write it down
It’s one thing to envision the life you want and build the castles in the sky and another to write them down. The act of writing down your goals solidifies them. By writing down your goals, you’re creating space to process them too and understand what needs to happen to reach your targets. It gives your mind something to focus on at the start of each day, week or month.
Bonus tip: Use present tense when you write down your goals for instance: I have a business, I drive a new car, I exercise daily.
Preparation is key
Trees do not sprout from nothing. The largest, boldest and strongest of trees all came from seeds. The goals you have are like seeds for your big dreams. Nurture these seeds. This might mean paying for that short course, finding a mentor or even more drastic actions like physically moving to a different environment or simply switching your mindset and getting out of your comfort zone.
Don’t overwhelm yourself
If you’re setting goals to hit for the year, start small. Start with 3 to 5 goals so that you’re not wearing yourself out with pressure and anxiety that comes from long lists. Especially in short periods of time like a year, sticking to a few goals at a time that you can achieve will give you more zeal to conquer much more.
“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Desmond Tutu.
Break your goals down into plans of action. Some goals can feel impossible until you break them down. Your goals may feel like elephants. You can’t swallow that elephant whole. Make habits out of the small bites you have to take every day in order to achieve your goals. That way you won’t overwhelm yourself and still achieve your dreams.
Create SMART goals
Start thinking of yourself as a living breathing company with its own vision, mission, goals and objectives. Companies that grow and thrive are very intentional about the goals they set. You should be too to see fruition in your life.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are those objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, realistic, Time-bound.
One of your goals is to get healthy in the new year. Be specific about what health means to you? Does it mean cutting down on the fast food you eat? Does it mean eating less meat and more vegetables? Does it mean meditating or journaling more often? Does it mean setting more boundaries for yourself for your peace of mind and mental health? Does it mean exercising more? If so, how much? Your goals should be focused otherwise you’ll get nowhere.
“If you aim at nothing, you hit nothing.”
If one of your goals is to make more money, you have to be specific about how much more money you want to make. How much money do you want to earn, invest or save? Write that number down - preferably in a place you will see it often. Setting a measure within your goals gives you a starting point when it’s time to evaluate how well you’ve done.
Having a goal like earning more money can be life altering. However, is your goal achievable? For instance, if you earn 1 million shillings a month, setting a goal of earning 1 million dollars may not be the right place to start. The 1 million dollars a day goal may not be achievable because you haven’t made the investments or got the job or business that will make this possible. Setting achievable goals ensures you don’t get overwhelmed, frustrated or bogged down while you try to achieve your dreams.
All dreams are valid. However, our goals have to be imagined within reason. For instance, having a goal of winning a Golden Globe without ever working or planning to work within the movie industry is not realistic. Your goals should encompass what you do now and what you plan to do. Our dreams can be as big and wild as we choose. Our goals should be based on action.
Set time frames for your goals. Your goals don’t have to be limited to one year to be relevant. Your time frame could be 2 or even 5 years depending on the goals. Regardless, you should include a time component to your goals. Deadlines help you process the time in which you need to get some things done. They also help you focus and measure your progress.
Whether it’s through journaling, your calendar or an accountability partner, find ways to keep yourself on track. Re-assess the goals if they need to be tweaked along the way. Monitoring and evaluating how you’re performing will help you learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, where you need to improve your efforts or even pivot after noticing the goal would not serve your dreams as you imagined in the beginning.
Your goals can’t be achieved while you sit on the sidelines waiting for things to magically happen. Even if magic were involved in achieving our wildest dreams, you would have to learn the right spells and potions and wave that wand. Even Cinderella had to actually go to the ball before her life changed. She didn’t stay home after her wishes came true. You must move.
You have to jump into the midst of things: the fear, pain, sweat and disappointment to get things done. Life is full of ups and downs but don’t let life happen to you. Chase your dreams. Do the work. Make the connections. Join the classes. Apply for the job. Always look to do something that will propel you towards your goals.
Sometimes life is messy. The pandemic has proven over and over again that the course of our lives can change so quickly without a moment’s notice. Have as much compassion for yourself as you do for others when they don’t meet their goals. Speak to yourself with kindness about why it might take a little longer than you expected to achieve your dreams. Lean on a supportive community that will encourage you. Then start where you stopped.