Especially now at the beginning of the year, many people enthusiastically write page-long lists of goals they want to achieve. Only to cross them off one by one a few days or weeks later, disappointed in themselves. What follows is frustration, reduced self-confidence and disappointment. But this is easily avoidable. Because it is simply not true that you are “too bad”, “can’t do anything anyway” or that you will never make it.
The fact is that it is important to set appropriate goals CORRECTLY – because that is how we actually achieve them, boost our self-confidence and face the truth: everything is achievable if you only want it.
It all starts with a simple question: “How do I achieve my goals?” And you’ll find the answer here:
Setting your goals the right way
If you want to achieve your goals, then everything stands and falls with the right goal setting. It’s not the length of your to-do list that makes you a more productive person, but the way you set and implement your goals. And there is a simple rule of thumb for this: S M A R T
S M A R T stands for
M eaningful (this is a modification of the actual SMART rule – M = measurable – by my colleague Melissa Parks)
T ime framed
When you set goals, you should check them to make sure they are SMART. It is also important that your goals are not just an umbrella term, but broken down into small steps, because we can only get there step by step.
Step by step
The importance of small steps is great. Goals that are not tangible and/or realisable for us are discouraging and the project is doomed to failure. Instead, when setting goals, we should spend time also giving the goal a shape and drawing a map towards it.
Let’s look at a practical example:
“I want to be more efficient.”
What does that mean? What do you want to achieve with efficiency? In what area of life do you want to be more efficient?
“I want to complete my tasks in a timely manner and stop putting them off.”
What steps do you want to take to achieve this?
“I do everything that takes less than two minutes immediately. I break bigger projects into individual steps and work through them every morning.”
Why do you do it? What do you get out of it? Make yourself aware of why/where/for whom you are doing it. This will help you when your brain is much more interested in quick gratification than long-term success. The Youtube video, the Insta-story, the Netflix episode, they are designed to help us get a quick sense of satisfaction. When we are not very clear about what we want to be efficient for, we prefer the quick gratification and our real goal fades into the distance.
“I want to complete my tasks in a timely manner so that I can enjoy my free time with a clear conscience.”
“I want to do my tasks on time because then I won’t have a guilty conscience.”
“I want to complete my tasks on time because I want to finish this project.”
The kids are sick, the neighbour falls down the stairs, you’re stuck in traffic on the way to work, etc. “Life is what happens while you’re making plans.”
Life is – thank God – not a sequence of plannable moments before death and therefore we have to remain flexible in setting goals. Because something can always come up. So you can set yourself monthly goals – weekly goals – and daily goals, where you allow flexible space to achieve your goals despite unforeseen events.
So when you plan, use the example above: “I’ll break bigger projects into steps and work through them each morning.” Not until 9 o’clock or until 11 o’clock.
Because if you don’t make it to the computer on time, or have other things to do in between, frustration sets in, which leads to further procrastination.
How do I achieve my goals….realistically? For me, the realism factor is the be-all and end-all. Because realism makes the difference between a dream and a goal.
I can dream of completing the project by the day after tomorrow and set it as a “goal”, but is that realistic?
If 96 hours of work have to go into the project before it is finished, I don’t think it can be done in 48 hours. If I have a lot of other work to do on top of that, it probably won’t be.
I may want to lose 20 kilos in a month, but that is not a realistic goal. When I set such unrealistic goals, one thing happens: frustration, self-confidence in the basement, despair.
Therefore, be honest with yourself: What can you achieve? What do you want to achieve?
Let’s stay with the example of efficiency.
What does efficiency mean to you?
What does efficiency mean in relation to your tasks?
In which areas are you efficient and in which areas are you not?
What stands between you and your efficiency?
If you take longer to get going in the morning, it is unrealistic to set yourself the goal of getting up two hours earlier every day to start work.
If you are tired and exhausted in the evening, you should not set yourself any more tasks.
Find the time of day when you are most efficient and the way you are most efficient.
For some, it’s called the Pomodoro Technique – 25 minutes of concentration, 5 minutes of rest + repetition.
Others, like me, can’t possibly work that way, but need an undisturbed 1.5 hours to really get into a task.
So: be honest with yourself and set your goals in a way that suits YOU.
T ime Framed
The British sociologist Cyril Northcote Parkinson once put it succinctly: “Work expands to the exact extent that time is available for its completion.”
Deadlines motivate because they signal when all the effort is over and the thing is done. They also help us overcome the hurdle of getting started and get into the flow. That’s why it’s recommended that you set yourself a time frame for your tasks – of course with the flexibility to realistically adjust it if necessary.
Reward is a must
Don’t wait for praise from outside (boss, partner, etc.), but reward yourself for your successes. Be grateful to yourself for what you accomplish and don’t take it for granted. Nothing in your life can be taken for granted – it’s all what you create for yourself. And I think you can and should be really proud of that.
If you are having problems achieving a certain goal, then there may be a behavioural or belief pattern behind it that is constantly preventing you from moving forward and perhaps causing you to sabotage yourself.
If this is the case, please write to me and together we will discover subconscious programming, change this programming and work on new patterns that will bring you to the goals you set for yourself.