Realistic Goal Setting

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Many of us have imagined having, doing, and experiencing things that are not part of our present life. When we desire those things to come true, we’ve identified a goal. But how do we best ensure that our goals become a reality? Here is one way to go about it:

1) Determine what it is you want.

It seems like a given if you are making goals, but often we forget to clarify what we want and why. Articulate to yourself what result you want to see happen (the goal) and how it will benefit you.

2) Ask yourself if there is more than one path to your goal.

Often, there are several ways to achieve the same result. If your first attempt does not work out as you plan, it is helpful to have another tactic already thought out. This realization also helps you remain flexible in your journey.

3) Brainstorm your steps.

What will you need to know, learn, develop, practice, and so on, in order to achieve your goal? If your goal is to build a house, there are many steps to complete, many of which need to be in a particular order. If you aren’t sure what steps are involved, do some preliminary research. After getting an idea of the process, ask yourself again if this goal is what you want, revisiting the reason behind it as well. It is one thing to put yourself through a long or challenging journey for a goal you truly desire. It is quite another to subject yourself to an arduous journey only to realize the effort, time, and resources were not worth attaining the goal.

4) Give yourself a due date.

Setting a goal with an “achieve by” date provides a sense of urgency to start taking action as soon as possible. If you normally give yourself too much time for your goals, set your goal date sooner than feels comfortable, which will lovingly encourage you to begin now. If you normally place an end date on your goals that you don’t achieve, put more thought into what kind of time you have to dedicate to your goal and what steps are required to get there. Setting an unrealistic timeframe unnecessarily puts you in a position to fail, which over time, can result in a negative attitude toward goal setting.

5) Write down your goal.

Write your goal down on the top of a blank sheet of paper, or in a blank document on your computer. It is easy to forget our goal when we only keep it in our head. Also write the due date down. Studies show that those who transfer goals from head to paper are more likely to achieve them.

6) Plan backwards.

Starting from your decided due date and working backwards, write down what steps you will have taken by that point. If you believe your goal will be achieved in 6 months, you may want to go backward each month to one month from now, then backward each week, listing steps to achieve along the way in support of your goal. As you get closer to today, try to be more detailed in your steps. Chunk down any “big” steps down into smaller pieces so it is easy to see what the next step is, and to combat any feelings of overwhelm.

7) Hold yourself accountable.

Committing to your goal is the first step to the success of your goal. This may be signing a contract with yourself as a symbolic gesture of your promise. If you would like more support and accountability, share your goal and due date with others. With whom, and to what extent, is up to you. It is best to choose those whom you know to be supportive and positive. Although it is wonderful to receive encouragement and progress requests from others, remember that you are responsible for taking consistent action on your goal. Keep your goal and plans where you will see it each day.

8) Celebrate the little “wins.”

Check off each step as you make progress and take some time to recognize your achievement. Do something supportive and loving for yourself to celebrate. Positive reinforcement helps us look forward to and take the next step.

Setbacks, perceived failures, and obstacles are often part of the journey to achieving your goals. However, following the tips here will provide a foundation for a clear, actionable path to a goal you truly desire, thereby setting you up for a more enjoyable, successful experience.



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