Goal setting is an activity that’s almost as human as breathing. Reaching one’s goals, on the other hand, often feels like a task relegated to the gods. If you struggle with reaching your goals, it may be time to focus on the kinds of goals you’re setting instead of your failures in reaching them.
One of the most important aspects of goal-setting and goal-reaching is the need to be realistic. Reaching goals is about changing habits, and that takes time and effort. Doing so while continuing to work, live and maintain social ties means your attention and energy can be divided. Be gentle with yourself in your goal to reach your goals, and your odds will increase.
Set Daily Goals
Think of it as a more expanded, willful to-do list. By setting a few, easily reached daily goals every day, you set a precedent of self-expectation that is a good way to prime the pump for more serious goal-reaching endeavors. Whether it’s remembering to wish a friend a happy birthday via social media, going for a run or calling your accountant, setting and reaching a batch of daily goals will help you begin to understand yourself, which will greatly aid you when you tackle more difficult goals.
Choose Good Goals
Often, we allow ourselves to be too easily swayed by the desires of broader culture whose values may not be align with our own. If you like to spend a good portion of your day outside, don’t set a goal to get into law school. If you want to have children someday, you may reconsider your goal of being a full-time touring musician. If you want to reach your goals, make sure they’re specific to you, including what you believe about the world, and what you hope to accomplish and experience.
Generalities in goal setting only allow for an openness of interpretation that leads to a lack of follow-through. If you want to do more for the planet, don’t just set a goal like, “Drive less.” A better and more reachable goal would be, “Bike to and from work three days a week.” Goals that are specific can be measured, and what can be measured can be accomplished.
The Importance of Repetition
Repetition — even if it isn’t intentional — will lead to the formation of habits, and when it comes to reaching your goals, a good habit is your best friend. From saying your goal aloud in the morning so you and your brain can hear it and get used to welcoming it, to pushing through a dream haze until that morning yoga class becomes a joy, repetition trains your brain and body to accept a new way of doing and being as the normal way to do and be. Once repetition isn’t an effort, goals will be met.
An attitude that welcomes failure protects your ego from the bruises that can derail the effort it takes to reach difficult goals. Failure is usually just part of the path to achieving something you haven’t done before. It provides you with opportunity to tinker with your process. If you fail, look closely at why and learn from it. Failure — if you incorporate it in the learning process —means you’re closer to success.
Write It Down
One of the most oft-repeated techniques of reaching a goal is to write it down in a place where you can easily see it day to day. Not only does this provide helpful repetition, it also aids in continually stoking the desire necessary to make the sacrifices that come along with reaching a goal. Goals that are not clearly visible can get lost in the hubbub of daily life. Protect them and your hope in their eventual reality by not losing sight of them — literally.
Looking into your possible futures and aiming at the one you want is the proper way to set goals and create the effort it necessary to reach them. Like most things worth doing, goal-reaching isn’t easy, but if you set goals in the right way, your desired future will come to fruition.
About the Author: Genevieve Bloch is a yoga instructor and life coach.