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5 ways to set goals... and achieve them

One of the biggest keys to success is goal-setting. They help us define what’s important, what we’re passionate about and ultimately, they help us to create a vision and plan for what we would like our life to be. But, while setting goals seems easy, following through to achieve them is slightly tricker. So, what can we do to keep focused and stay motivated?

How to set goals – and stick to them!

Learn from the past

First things first: think about any previous goals that you’ve set in the past and write down the main reasons why they weren’t achieved. A common reason why goals aren’t reached is that they simply aren’t realistic. It could be that the deadline was too tight, or that the goal was over-complicated or unclear. This initial brainstorm can help you to identify any habits or potential obstacles that you may need to address in order to achieve your goal.

Is your goal SMART?

Life Resource Download our SMART Goal Planner template

You may have heard of the acronym before, but the SMART framework can help you to clearly define your goal to make it more achievable. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Be clear about what you want, the more specific the better.
  • Measurable: Make sure you can measure your goals, so you can track your progress and know when you have achieved them.
  • Achievable: Your goals should challenge you and push you to grow, but they also need to be achievable. Goals that are too difficult can be discouraging and lead you to giving up. While goals that are too easy can lead you to losing interest.
  • Realistic: While it’s great to want to run a marathon, having a goal to run one tomorrow when you haven’t run more than 1 km probably isn’t realistic. Be practical with your goals and the timeframes you give yourself to achieve them.
  • Time bound: Set goals with a deadline. Having a defined timeline creates a sense of urgency and will help keep you motivated to achieve your goal.

Make a plan

It’s important to write out your goals and map out exactly how you’re going to achieve them. Ask yourself what resources do you need? Are there any additional skills you need to learn? What potential obstacles might you encounter and how do you plan to overcome them? You may also want to consider if you need the help of a coach, mentor or advisor. Have clearly prioritised to-do lists and schedules to help keep you on track.

Break them down

It’s easy to get caught up in setting outrageously ambitious goals - especially if they don’t’ have a timeline ahead to achieve it. Start thinking of a really big goal as a series of smaller and simpler goals. Want to buy a house? Look at saving a certain amount of money each month. Want to write a book? Start by aiming for 2,000 words a month. If the goal is to run a marathon, try looking at setting running goals throughout the year, building up from 2 km to 5 km, then 8 km and so on.

Recruit a cheer squad

While setting deadlines to achieve goals helps to bolster our motivation, it’s still easy to delay things if we’re only accountable for ourselves. Enter: the cheer squad – trusted friends, family or colleagues who will be there to support us in the long-term as we work towards our goals. Your cheer squad could also include someone who has a dream of their own that you regularly catch up with to share each other’s progress.

Goals are varied between everyone, but the steps to achieving them are consistent for all. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a little support now and then, so if you’re keen to find out more about how you can set your goals or seeking support and motivation to help you achieve them, our experts are available to help via MyCoach.