How to set your goals and stick to them

Feeling a little in need of some direction? Go just a little further to find all the tools you need to set your goals and keep up with them.
February 18, 2021
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Did you know 92% of people don't stick to their goals? You can be in the 8% that do achieve them. Read on to learn how to set your goals.

1. Decide on the goal

This is the first step to making your goal(s) more tangible. (If tangible doesn't work for you, swap it out with realistic.)

In this step, you don't have to worry about making it completely specific. Having a general idea is enough to get started.

It could be having a happier life, being more in shape, having closer relationships, or having more self-acceptance.

You see, these are pretty big picture goals.

If you're not sure what goal you want to set, try this trick...

Imagine what your life is like 3 years from now. (You can switch up the timeline to whatever time is best for you.)

Imagine yourself being your best self. What do you envision?

Go into detail, making sure these aren't unrealistic fantasies.

Let's say you imagine you're in shape, teaching a university course to eager students.

The term is almost over. After it ends, you're going to the Maldives with your spouse.

Now, you have material you can set your goals on:

  • Getting in shape
  • Becoming a university professor
  • Having a spouse
  • Being financially comfortable so you can take vacations

2. Make them specific, challenging, and achievable

Continuing with these goals in our example...

Let's break them down further. This will make them less fantasy-based and more tangible to achieve.

For instance, "getting in shape."

Perhaps you can map out an exercise programme: run 1 mile, three times a week. And steadily increase it.

For becoming a university professor, look up the qualifications you'll need to have and the institutions that offer them.

"Having a spouse" could mean signing up for an online dating site, or joining a few social clubs.

And "Being financially comfortable" could entail deciding what percentage of your current income you want to put away. Then discussing with a financial planner the various options at your disposal.

Whatever the goals are, break them down, creating a checklist to achieving them. Make the checklist as specific as possible. And be sure to make them challenging enough.

According to this study, you'll have a better chance of achieving your goals if they're specific and challenging.

3. Positive and negative reinforcement

Positive reinforcement means rewarding positive behaviour. This could mean after staying with your goal for a week, you go to the movies.

Negative reinforcement is taking something away to adjust "bad behaviour." So, if you don't go for a 1-mile run because you don't feel like it, you don't watch TV for a week.

Overall, these are psychobehavioural terms with a host of studies behind their effectiveness.

When creating your roadmap to attaining your goal, incorporate positive and negative reinforcement.

That way, you're more likely to stick with your goals.

4. Set your goals: What you need to know

According to the dictionary, goal means "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result." Synonyms: aim, end, target, intention.

From this definition, we see that goal is an abstract concept. (Not to mention, most of the synonyms are abstract too.)

Which makes it hard to conceptualise and can make goals feel out-of-reach to achieve.

The point is, in order to set your goals and achieve them, you need to make them as tangible as possible. The more tangible they are, the easier it is to see the roadmap to achieving them.

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